By now you’re probably used to hearing from us that we believe a big change is coming to digital marketing. We’re bullish on AI, as evidenced by our recent SEO posts. We are used to change as digital marketers, but this feels different. Momentum has been building since Chat GPT 3 was released a year ago, almost to the day. The advancements feel like an inescapable avalanche, growing in volume and speeding up at an overwhelming rate.
Ethan Mollick recently shared this tweet that sums things up pretty well.
Someone just shared this post on this very site with a warning "it is a bit old now."— Ethan Mollick (@emollick) November 19, 2023
I wrote it 17 days ago. AI, sigh. (For the record, the basic techniques have not changed, though GPTs became a thing the week after, and then OpenAI blew up after that) https://t.co/PEYmzypOvm
There’s an untenable amount of tools emerging that deserves serious consideration. There are countless ramifications of new technologies that require serious deliberation. Opinions, predictions and forecasts are shifting and capabilities are advancing weekly, if not daily. So, what better time for all of this to be reaching a peak than now, while we’re all in the middle of budgeting our needs and setting our goals for 2024?
Here is how we are approaching planning conversations at Seer. We share in the hopes that it helps you as well.
Where do we start? Let’s take stock of what’s changing and when
There are two main categories of change we are bracing for at Seer. Wil discussed these in his July webinar, “The Great Reset.” The webinar is worth watching, but for now I’ll share the gist: We believe the advancements of Generative AI are driving an inflection point in digital marketing, changing both how we work (as marketers) and how we search (as consumers).
- How we work as marketers will be fundamentally different next year. This isn’t exclusive to marketing professionals. This article by Harvard Business Review proposes that the most impacted industries can be defined as “WINS Work - the places where tasks, functions, possibly your entire company or industry - are dependent on the manipulation and interpretation of Words, Images, Numbers, and Sounds (WINS).”
- How we search as consumers will be fundamentally different soon. While changes to how we work aren’t exclusive to us, changes to how users search for solutions has unique ramifications on marketers - search marketers, especially. With the rising popularity of tools like GPT-4 and AI Search Engines like Perplexity, we are seeing more possible entry points for our clients’ audiences to discover them than ever before. This represents both opportunity and complexity.
So, back to the original question: How do we plan for these changes as it relates to 2024 goal setting and financial planning?
I believe the biggest opportunity for marketers to focus on is how we work. Evolving our tech stack and work flows will be pivotal to accelerate our ability to drive performance.
While I am all-in on Generative AI transforming all things digital (and, sorry for the clickbait-y title), I don't believe we'll reach an inflection point of change in the way we search as consumers in 2024. I think Google will maintain it's market share and continue it's attempt to weave improvements into the search products the majority of consumers use today: Google Search and YouTube.
Back to the 2024 focus...
Investing in tools and technologies that evolve the way we work is an existential need for marketers
This may feel dramatic, but I firmly believe it. Not investing in implementing LLMs and Generative AI into workflows today is going to be akin to businesses that were slow adapters to the internet. It changes everything, and the sooner you embrace that, the better.
Here are five questions you should be discussing internally today:
- Is your organization investing in an Enterprise Generative AI tool, like GPT-4?
- If so, have you stood up your internal AI Council and/or working committee?
- If you’re committed to investing in an enterprise tool, which tool will you choose?
- What will your approach be to integrating these tools into your workflows?
- Who will lead this work?
- How will progress and success be measured?
Note that it’s critically important that you’re having these conversations with all stakeholders within your organization. That includes sales, marketing, legal, IT, and people operations. For more guidance, Marketing AI Institute has great resources and insights.
Investing in identifying new entry points for your audience is important, but not urgent
Make no mistake: new digital entry points are highly likely to be coming and there is work to be done in 2024 to prepare. We'll need to balance a focus on the current entry points, and prepare for those coming quickly. This is an exciting concept and there’s much to discuss:
- What are AI Search Engines, and can we optimize for them?
- How will advancements like Search Generative Experience change the value of Google organic search visibility?
- Will the advancement of AI Content render search unusable, finally killing SEO?
- What new channels is your audience using to discover products and services relevant to your business?
- How do you know if you’re present in these new channels?
- What is your measurement plan for monitoring that presence?
- What is the inflection point at which you’ll shift focus and reprioritize channel investments?
These are important conversations to start having now. Early monitoring, awareness, and stakeholder education will be key. But, we don’t recommend anyone pull investment away from other tried and true channels in favor of these new entry points yet.
There are many reasons for that, but one big one is a lack of data. Tracking tools need a bit of time to catch up, and Analytics teams need the space to set up proper tagging and reporting to monitor the trend of users coming from these new channels.
This is easy enough to say, but how do you respond to executives asking you about your plan for optimizing for ChatGPT? In those instances, we go to the data. Danny Goodwin published a great article titled “No, ChatGPT isn’t stealing Google’s search market share,” in response to many alarmist soundbites. He included many great sound bites of his own. Here are my favorites:
- Claim: Google’s worldwide search market share has dropped year-over-year!
- Data: That’s true, but the drop was from 92.34% to 91.53%. This certainly could be the start of a larger decline, but we’re likely still years away from Google losing its position as the 500 lb gorilla in the room.
- Claim: Google search market share has only been stable for the past 12 months!
- Data: Yes, but this is true dating back to August 2015, not just the past 12 months. Framing this as one-year trend doesn’t do the actual data justice.
- Claim: ChatGPT traffic is up month-over-month, but Google’s traffic is down!
- Data: While this is also factual, it obfuscates the fact that ChatGPT’s traffic is just 2% of Google’s web traffic.
Let’s underscore that last point more deeply. There is a very exciting world emerging, and anyone who uses the internet as part of their daily life should be eager to follow these advancements. But, for now, these new opportunities represent just a small fraction of where your audience is engaging.
The overall message here is that while things will undoubtedly change, we are talking about long standing consumer habits that won’t change overnight. Start talking about these changes today, but don’t develop a marketing strategy to chase traffic from Bing Chat or Perplexity AI at the expense of your core digital channels today.