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Microsoft's Bing gets a jolt with AI capabilities, but will comfortable consumers actually switch from Google?

Microsoft's Bing gets a jolt with AI capabilities, but will comfortable consumers actually switch from Google?

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 Microsoft has launched a new version of its search engine Bing in Beta, and web browser Edge powered by an upgraded version of the artificial intelligence (AI) technology that powers OpenAI’s chatbot, ChatGPT.

“Today, we’re launching an all new, AI-powered Bing search engine and Edge browser, available in preview now at Bing.com, to deliver better search, more complete answers, a new chat experience and the ability to generate content. We think of these tools as an AI copilot for the web,” wrote Yusuf Mehdi, the corporate vice president and consumer chief marketing officer of Microsoft in a statement on the company’s website that was seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE.

Don't miss: ChatGPT unveils US$20 subscription plan: Why timing is crucial to success

With the new, revamped Bing, Microsoft says users will see improved search results, more complete and summarised answers to questions and a new interactive chat feature to refine searches. Users will also be able to get Bing to generate content for them to help them write emails, generate an itinerary, prep for a job interview and more. Microsoft Edge has also been updates with new AI capabilities and a new look. Consumers can now use the chat and compose features from the browser to summarise lengthy reports, ask for comparisons to competing company financials and compose a LinkedIn post.

The new Bing will be powered by a next generation OpenAI large language model that is more powerful than ChatGPT and customised specifically for search. “It takes key learnings and advancements from ChatGPT and GPT-3.5 – and it is even faster, more accurate and more capable,” wrote Mehdi. Microsoft has also developed a proprietary way of working with the OpenAI model that allows it to best leverage its power. They call this collection of capabilities and techniques the Prometheus model and it can give users more relevant, timely and targeted results, with improved safety.

This comes as Microsoft stakes its future on AI after investing US$1 billion into the ChatGPT platform. Microsoft is also gearing up to take on Google who unveiled Bard this week, it’s AI-powered platform that is also set to change the way we search for things online.

Bard is an artificial intelligence chatbot technology that Google plans to roll out in the coming weeks. The system is powered by Google’s Language Model for Dialogue Applications (LaMDA) and is a conversational AI service that seeks to combine the breadth of the world’s knowledge with the power, intelligence and creativity of our large language model, according to a statement by Google and Alphabet’s CEO, Sundar Pichai on its website. It reportedly draws on information from the web to provide fresh, high-quality responses, which is similar to ChatGPT which has a scarily human-like ability to produce well-researched content in seconds.

Don't miss: Google's Bard for dummies: What is this new AI software that could challenge ChatGPT?

Will Microsoft’s efforts with Bing really get consumers to switch from Google?

Most recently, Google reported advertising revenues of US$59.04 billion, a slowdown from US$61.24 billion in the year-earlier quarter. The results came as Google saw threats not just from the slowed economy and tech layoffs but also as it faces legal action from the US Department of Justice. However, its search business continues to remain strong with Search Engine Journal, a search marketing news site, reporting that Google has over 86% of the search market share. Bing on the other hand has a market share of about 25.7%, putting it at quite a disadvantage to Google.

The statistics then raise the question of if Bing has a solid chance to go head-to-head with Google in its AI war and why Google issued a "code red" alert after ChatGPT's release in December last year to build a rival for ChatGPT.

According to Siddharth Surana, CCO of Media360 Communications while the new effort by Microsoft and Bing is commendable, changing user habit will still be a challenge as many people are familiar with Google’s search features. Nonetheless, the incorporation of AI features into Edge browsers, makes for a more useful case to start using Bing as a default search with the Edge browser.

Calling the current state of the new Bing “still a little underwhelming”, he says that most consumers at this point are using Bing to test and play with the AI results. Once Google launches Bard, his money remains on Google as the go-to platform.

“The real question is - how search overall will be impacted and what this means for businesses dependent on search,” he added.

Where Google has the real power is in its interconnected ecosystem, argues Kabeer Chaudhary, APAC managing director of M&C Saatchi Performance.

“It's not just about changing your browser or your search engine. Google has our passwords, bookmarks and documents. Google’s moat is that it has created a universe around the browser and it would take some effort from users to change their default ecosystem,” he said.

Having said that, Chaudhary adds that Bing will truly be a challenge to Google's dominance. How much would that be, would be dependent on how well Google's Bard AI works in comparison to Open AI's GPT3.

“The key point here is that Google is so heavily reliant on search revenue that even a few percentage points of market share being sucked out will have a dramatic effect on their bottom line,” he added.

Related articles:
How ChatGPT exploded onto the scene with so little marketing spend
ChatGPT for dummies: What you need to know and can it revolutionise advertising?
Is Bondee here for the long run or just another fad for the ad world to play with?

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