First Impressions on How Generative AI in Search May Impact Franchise Lead Generation
By: Michael Alston for Franchise Insights
March 1, 2023 – Now that Microsoft has unveiled its chatbot-enhanced search results into new downloads of the Bing mobile app, and to Bing desktop users by signup on a limited basis, we can further analyze the impact of chatbots on paid and organic search marketing, following up on our earlier article.
Bing’s Chatbot Results
Generative AI searches are queries to a chatbot that synthesizes an answer into a conversational response from multiple sources of data. These will likely be most useful for aspiring franchise owners as they begin their search process with a broad query (“what are the best franchises to buy?” as in the above example) or an uninformed query (“how can I get a Starbucks franchise”). More specific questions like “what is the best food franchise to buy under $100,000” get reduced to the same kind of results as “food franchises under $100,000” as in the example below.
Attribution to advertisers’ (paid) and free links is embedded in the response, with links directly to each source. At first glance, this appears to keep the (advertising) revenue model intact. Listings click out to pages similar to traditional-looking paid and free search results.
While it remains to be seen exactly how generative AI will impact search results for Google advertisers, certainly the $162 billion in 2022 paid search (over 57% of revenues) will be a strong design consideration.
Google’s initial Bard demo on February 6 showed chatbot results pushing paid and organic listings content further down the page as seen below. But below that, it seems to be similar to current results.
This space erosion has been the case over many years as Google introduced new features that posed challenges for paid and free search results pages, giving rise to what has been dubbed “zero click” searches (searches resulting in no clicks).
We expect Google to minimize advertising revenue cannibalization in their pursuit of a better search experience. Further, a Morgan Stanley analyst estimates that the cost to deliver chatbot-enhanced searches may be seven times higher than current search results. So expect a balanced approach by Google rather than self-immolation.
What this means for consumers — is another matter. Conversational AI responses may not be as effective for “exploratory search” — like folks considering a franchise purchase — and may be misleading. How can a chatbot answer a question like “what’s the best franchise for me” without knowing more about “me” as any good salesperson or consultant would explore. Read a short summary of what researchers say about this challenge here.
Google is expected to reveal the Bard implementation, currently in Beta testing with its own employees, very soon.
FranchiseVentures is the leading demand– and lead-generation platform for potential franchisees to thousands of growing franchise systems in the United States and Canada. Its franchise lead generation brands include Franchise.com, Franchise Solutions, Franchise Gator, Franchise Opportunities, Franchise For Sale, SmallBusinessStartup.com and BusinessBroker.net, and together they provide the largest aggregation of prospective franchise buyers in the U.S.
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Published on Wednesday, March 1st, 2023.