We are starting to get questions from customers and partners about the potential impact on advertising of ChatGPT, a new artificial intelligence tool that may actually give technology the ability to think like people. In this post, I will share my thoughts on the implications of ChatGPT on ad agencies, Google Search, and SEM in general. To be clear, ChatGPT is probably the first of many major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and ultimately, the ramifications for the world are enormous, and that’s why people are focused on what ChatGPT means for the world’s biggest industries. Here are my six most important observations about what to expect from ChatGPT. 


1. First, ChatGPT is going to predict human behavior more than just search, and so, I think the financial services, health care industry, and other implications are at least equally as interesting as the implications for search. I think that in all likelihood, these industries provide an easier path to monetization than search, because you don’t need to necessarily put it in front of consumers instantly.

2. Secondly, by starting with different industries, I think that ChatGPT will iron out its rough edges, and that is super important, because a tool like ChatGPT, in my opinion, needs to be almost flawless, because it is trying to be a “single source of the truth.” So, if it is inaccurate, people are NOT going to tolerate that as an alternative to Google. Google doesn’t need to be 99% flawless, it just needs to be about 80% flawless, because the Google model of aggregating results is more forgiving, as it always gives searchers at least 10 results, but in reality, it provides far more than that – if some are bad, doesn’t need to ruin the experience the way it would for ChatGPT. This makes ChatGPT similar to voice dictation tools like Alexa, which only took off after the tool hit a very high threshold of reliability. 

3. Third, from a marketing agency perspective, ChatGPT provides tools that agencies can leverage in the near term to create content, including landing pages, that may boost results for ongoing campaigns. This cuts both ways, and will also empower businesses to continue the trend of moving digital marketing IN HOUSE rather than relying exclusively on external agencies.

4. Fourth, as it matures, I anticipate a proliferation of tools that are powered by ChatGPT – I would anticipate that they may be integrated with Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Bing, all of which are aligned with Microsoft (which has invested $1 billion in ChatGPT). If this comes to pass, I believe that we may see these apps answering questions that would have previously been answered on Google, and thus reducing Google’s pool of searches to sell advertising against. Essentially, this would have the likely effect of driving UP the cost-per-click, due to the same number of advertisers chasing a smaller number of searches.

5. Fifth, It is important to note that the vast majority of Google searches are one word, or two word searches. It is impossible to know for sure, but it is very likely that these one word, or two word searches, are too simple for a tool like ChatGPT to be necessary or deliver value. It is very likely that more complex (and rare) searches are the true value of ChatGPT, and it does not pose much of a threat to the vast majority of Google’s search share.

6. Sixth, and finally, it is also likely that Google will continue to benefit from the last click purchase phenomena, in which consumers do their research in many, many places, but then head directly to either Google.com or Amazon.com to make their final purchase — thus, as tools proliferate that capture attention, they may not be able to break Google’s connection as the most common place to end the search journey before making a purchase.


We hope these thoughts on ChatGPT are helpful to you as 2023 gets underway, and we will be following closely to advise our clients, and revise our expectations, as we learn more about this new tool. 

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Will Marlow is the founder and CEO at the Will Marlow Agency. Besides being a full-time entrepreneur, Will is also a wrestling coach, as well as the host on Road to CEO podcast.

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