What you need to know
- Over 100 million chats have been held with Microsoft's Bing Chat.
- The chatbot generates responses to questions by scouring the web for information.
- Microsoft is exploring ways to compensate websites that are used as sources for Bing Chat.
The new Bing powered by ChatGPT has been in preview for several weeks. It's garnered quite a bit of attention and helped Bing hit the milestone of 100 million daily active users. The search engine's chatbot has drawn particular interest from the media and general users.
The Bing chatbot scours the web for information in response to queries. It then generates answers, allowing people to get information right within Bing rather than having to jump to another webpage. That may be a smooth end-user experience, but it has raised concerns about how publications will be compensated for the information Bing gleans from articles.
Our Managing Editor Jez Corden discussed how Microsoft will compensate websites that Bing "steals information" from. It seems that Microsoft has received similar feedback as that shared by Corden, as the company has outlined new revenue streams that it's testing out to compensate publications.
Microsoft's Yusef Mehdi, Microsoft Corporate Vice President & Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, shared a blog post outlining some methods Microsoft is testing to compensate publications.
"We want to drive more traffic to publishers in this new world of search. It is a top goal for us, and we measure success in part by how much traffic we are sending from the new Bing/Edge. Second, we want to increase revenue to publishers," said Mehdi.
Microsoft's CVP specified that Bing is now driving more traffic to sites than before. Additionally, the tech giant is testing out ads within the chat experience. Revenue generated by those ads would then be shared with websites that are cited as sources.
Here are two solutions for compensating publications that Microsoft is looking into:
- An expanded hover experience where hovering over a link from a publisher will display more links from that publisher giving the user more ways to engage and driving more traffic to the publisher’s website.
- For our Microsoft Start partners, placing a rich caption of Microsoft Start licensed content beside the chat answer helping to drive more user engagement with the content on Microsoft Start where we share the ad revenue with the partner. We’re also exploring placing ads in the chat experience to share the ad revenue with partners whose content contributed to the chat response.
Microsoft already cites the webpages that it takes information from, but that doesn't always lead to clicks and revenue for publications. For example, if a person asks how to do something in a game and Bing answers it directly through the chat interface, it's unlikely that the person would then click on the source website to obtain the same information.
Mehdi emphasized that "conversations are early days," so specific methods will likely evolve over time. It appears that Microsoft is keen to work with publishers and find avenues to compensate content creators. The exact shape that will take is not set at the moment.
Windows Central take
As you may expect, this topic hits close to home. Windows Central and many of our sibling websites create how-to guides and articles regularly to help our readers. If Bing or another search engine can gather information from those pieces without any form of compensation, it would take revenue away from the website used as a source. While a word like "steal" may seem harsh, I think it's appropriate.
Microsoft wanting to work with publishers and find ways to compensate websites is promising. Bing would generate revenue for Microsoft and for the publishers used as sources, creating a partnership that's sustainable for both sides, depending on compensation amounts of course.
Ironically, if Bing Chat is too good at gathering information from the web, it could cannibalize itself. If people stop going to websites for information and use Bing Chat, publications will shift to other forms of content. Bing, in turn, would then not have content use for answers.
Microsoft and the Bing leadership team seem to be aware of this and are working on solutions. I hope that publications and Microsoft can find a path that works for all sides. Then, Google needs to follow suit with Bard.
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Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org.