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In this week’s Brand Publishing Briefing:
- Google’s AI-driven search experience could be a threat – or an opportunity – for brand publishers
- Speaking of AI, here are some legal considerations for brand publishers using AI tools
Google’s AI-driven search experience is here
Google’s Search Generative Experience is now available in beta. Understandably, it has brands and publishers reliant on audiences discovering their content via search a little bit afraid.
The Atlantic explored the ifs and whys of this giant change coming to the Internet. As Justin Pots writes:
“Instead of sending you off to other corners of the web, more search results appear within Google. Sort of like ChatGPT, it pulls information from various websites, rewords it, and puts that text on top of your search results—pushing down any links you see. In the process, it stifles traffic to the rest of the internet, lessening the very incentive to post online. With AI, Google Search might eventually set off a doom loop for the web as we know it.”
Ever since Google announced that it was working on building AI into its search results, brand publishers have been fretting about how those changes will affect how audiences discover their content.
The crux of the issue is that the new search “experience” grabs information from a number of different sites and spits out entire paragraphs in answer to users’ queries, rather than simply pointing them to third-party sites. There are some links in the corner that, when expanded, also provide a list of the sources the bot used to generate that information. But ss Pots writes, in theory, there’s no reason to ever leave Google ever again. For brand publishers and traditional publishers alike, that’s a concerning prospect.
A few things could happen next:
Brand publishers may recognize quickly that this is a defining, do-or-die moment, and decide they either need to create content that is truly high quality, differentiated, and valuable enough to make it worth people clicking through to them, or they simply fold their hand and decide how they will pay for distribution.
Another possibility is that a search-pocalypse plays into the hands of brands who decide to pay up for distribution, since it could lead to less competition for organic search traffic and attention.
Along with this, as Pots points out, it is possible that the generative experience actually leads to less useful search results. Bots may be able to synthesize information, but they aren’t actually living it. A writer covering a specific piece of news, or reviewing a movie or product, actually lived that experience; the bot did not.
Another trend to watch for is how AI platforms and tools actually partner with publishers – both brand and media organizations – in order to train their own models. Last week, the AP said it reached a deal with OpenAI to share access to certain content and tech, which means OpenAI will license some of the AP’s own content and archive to train its algorithms. As we covered a couple of months ago, it is possible that platforms like OpenAI or even Google will step up their efforts to work closely with publishers in an effort to keep them “onside” as AI search looms. Depending on how high-quality brand publishing content is, there’s a chance for partnership there too.
Brand publishers grapple with legal questions around AI-generated content
Brand publishers are increasingly using generative artificial intelligence to aid with content production, but legal questions are arising as they do so. Does the use of AI breach copyright laws? Are brands culpable for AI-generated inaccuracies? And are they legally required to disclose their use of AI to consumers?
Toolkits spoke with lawyers and IP experts about the legal considerations brand publishers should keep in mind as they experiment with generative artificial intelligence.
Also worth noting:
- No social network is complete without branded content. Instagram plans to bring branded content tools to its Twitter competitor product, Threads, reports Axios. The move comes before advertising is launched on the platform, but is seen as a way to still get brands to participate via paid promotion on the app in the meantime.
- An opinion piece in Fast Company explores how Barbie represents a new frontier in branded entertainment for companies. Its main advice: “Any company can build an entertainment empire,” which may be a tad hyperbolic.
- Nieman Lab has some ideas for newsrooms looking to write guidelines for AI use.
- Albertsons Media Collective, the grocery brand’s retail media arm, is replacing digital circular ads with interactive ones across Facebook and Instagram. The ads will target customers using product and promotional data. It’s part of an overall industry-wide shift to rethink circulars.