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Microsoft has a real shot at taking search share from Google
In March of 2023, Reuters reported on shifts in page visits to Bing and Google.
Using data between 2/7/2023, the day Microsoft released their integration of OpenAI’s technology into Bing Search, and 3/20/2023 vs. previous period - we’re seeing Microsoft take off like never before while Google dips slightly in the search game.
- +15.8% in Bing Page Visits
- Nearly -1% decline for Google Page Visits
I like an underdog story, so I have a couple tips for Microsoft Marketing
As I went through my journey back to using Google and Bing - more on that later - I noticed a couple small but mighty opportunities for Microsoft’s Marketing team to get the Edge (browser pun intended) over Google in our new SearchGPT world.
I stopped using Google’s Chrome AND never really used Bing, but ChatGPT changed that
As an iOS user, the majority of my searches happen using Safari for my browser and Google as my search engine.
When Apple Relay launched in 2021, Apple users could combine private browsing with Apple Relay to truly search with more privacy. Thus, even if you used Google as your search engine you're less likely to be the subject of ad retargeting (at least to date I haven’t).
Sure, it is kind of a weird statement coming from a tech exec in the Ad Tech world. But let’s face it, most of us don't like to have ads follow us around or our data shared without explicitly opting in.
So Safari with Apple Relay turned on, private browsing has been my go to. And my experience on Google and Meta properties have much improved.
That is, until I got really curious about conversational search or what we have been calling “SearchGPT”.
I saw the power SearchGPT has on impacting people and businesses
There are two conversations that stick out as changing my mind about giving Microsoft’s Bing and Google Bard a try:
Convo 1: Getting replaced as my kid’s coding QAer
I was with my college kid, Maxwell - we were discussing a coding error he couldn’t solve and he was absolutely over the moon that he no longer needed me or any of my coding buddies to troubleshoot his coding homework.
He was fired up that he didn’t have to ask me any more questions about coding. I had been replaced with AI, he told me excitedly. Further, I had run out of stories about how back in my day people used real coding languages like COBOL.
The Edge Browser and ChatGPT helped him find his error in seconds.
He asked why I wasn’t using it or Bing/Edge.
I did download Bing for iOS but for those that are unaware, you couldn’t just download Bing and start using ChatGPT. You had to be put on a waitlist. The idea is the more you search using Bing, the sooner you will be taken off the waitlist.
Microsoft Marketing Tip #1: When able, prioritize the goal of the user over the goal of the business. Find the intersection at which they both exist.
Needless to say, I was never taken off the waitlist.
Convo 2: Seeing insights that bring calm to clients around the uncertainty of the new world of SearchGPT
Wil Reynolds, the founder of Seer Interactive, explained during our April All Hands why everyone on our team should be test driving ChatGPT. From Finance to Marketing folks.
He shared examples of how our Supernova™ Technology helped our clients gain incredible insights that could help them inform when and how to think about search in the new world. There’s a lot of uncertainty around SearchGPT and Wil’s insights brought some calm to the chaos of conversational search and Large Language Models for our team and our clients. Supernova™ also has an alerting system that is already well ahead of the game on SearchGPT with more features in the pipeline.
I was convinced and started testing
Oooook, fine. Let me take the time to go play around with this GPT thingy. Microsoft released an updated app for Bing. Bing- Your AI copilot. So I got it.
Microsoft doesn’t own it’s SERP for ChatGPT in Bing
I started to play around with the UX/UI. The first thing I did in Bing is ask:
“what is the best way to use ChatGPT?”
I was a little shocked, Microsoft didn’t actually own the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for how to use ChatGPT. On my phone, PC Magazine did. On the desktop, ZDnet owned the SERP.
Microsoft Marketing Tip #2: Owning the SERP prior to launching a campaign ensures users can easily find accurate and helpful information about your product or service.
I was curious why they don’t own the SERP and if that’s an opportunity for them.
Why doesn’t Microsoft own SERP for “How to use Bing-Your AI CoPilot”?
An idea! Wouldn’t it be great to have ChatGPT help me write a post on why Microsoft doesn’t own the Search Engine Result for how to use Bing- Your AI Copilot to use AI within it is on tool?
So, I did and here is what I got:
The Curious Case of Microsoft's Absence from Bing A.I. Copilot SERPs
Microsoft's Bing A.I., powered by OpenAI's ChatGPT, is a revolutionary search tool that aims to provide a more conversational and intuitive search experience. While it has the potential to change the way we use search engines, there's one peculiarity that stands out – Microsoft doesn't own the search engine result page (SERP) for how to use Bing- Your AI copilot. Let's explore the reasons behind this surprising situation and what it might mean for Microsoft's search strategy.
The Current SERP Landscape:
When users search for instructions on using Bing- Your AI copilot, they are directed to websites like PC Magazine instead of Microsoft's own resources. This seems counterintuitive, as one would expect the creator of the tool to provide the most comprehensive and accurate information on using it.
Possible Reasons for Microsoft's Absence:
1. Bing A.I. in Beta: Microsoft might still be refining the Bing A.I. experience during its beta phase, and as a result, they may not want to direct users to their chatbot until it can provide the best possible experience.
2. A Broader Search Strategy: Microsoft could be focusing on creating a better overall search experience for users, regardless of where they find the information. By allowing other trusted websites to own the search term, Microsoft may be prioritizing user satisfaction over self-promotion.
3. Indirect Marketing: Allowing other websites to cover Bing A.I. and its usage might be an indirect marketing strategy. By letting third-party sites create content about Bing A.I., Microsoft can benefit from increased buzz and user interest generated by these sources.
The Future of Bing A.I.:
Regardless of the reasons for Microsoft's absence from the SERP, Bing A.I. represents a significant step forward in search engine technology. As the tool continues to evolve, it may become a formidable competitor to Google and other search engines. With ChatGPT integration, Bing A.I. has the potential to change the way we search the internet forever.
Microsoft's decision not to own the SERP for how to use Bing- Your AI copilot might seem puzzling at first, but it could be part of a larger strategy to create a better search experience for users. As Bing A.I. develops and gains traction, it will be interesting to see how it compares to other search engines and whether Microsoft's strategy pays off in the long run. For now, the dawn of the post-search internet era is upon us, and Bing A.I. is at the forefront of this change.
But it still seems off to me to never return any content on “how to use Bing - Your AI assistant”, yet, show content on the People Also Asked section of the page linked to Bing:
I’d still recommend Microsoft Marketing work with your in-house staff or agency on owning those SERPs in order to work folks over to their tool at a higher rate.
And if you work with Seer and sign up to use Supernova™, we'll help you find these types of insights a lot quicker!
Microsoft is creating competition
Maybe Steve Ballmer was just 15 years early when he excitedly gave his predictions of how the future would conjugate "Bing":
"Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Bing, Man."
"Bing Me! I'll Bing You. Let's Bing the Lakers. I Binged it last night"
There is no doubt Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Edge browser is leading the way in exposing users to Open AI’s ChatGPT and the new world of AI conversational search or SearchGPT. Using Seer’s Supernova™ technology, we see it in the data.
Times are hectic. Everyone is moving at the speed of light to launch products with ChatGPT. Which is great but a lot of questions remain around who owns the content and how to monetize fairly content creators in the world of SearchGPT. All that said, my bet is Microsoft’s Marketing Team just didn’t have time to fully capture the buzz from launching something new, facing other priorities.
However, we do know Microsoft as a corporation is one of the best implementation and operations.
This could be Google’s first existential threat to search.
I would love to tell you how Bard compares, but, alas I am on their waitlist.
Funny enough, Google also doesn’t show up as first in the SERP but at least is third...
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Over the coming weeks Seer will be talking more about how Supernova™ is exposing how clients should be thinking about the new world of SearchGPT and the existential threats to search as we know it today.