Google, Microsoft generative AI experiments concern advertisers

Google and Microsoft are placing ads into AI experiments without giving brands the choice to opt out. Advertisers are now concerned that their products and services could be promoted next to inappropriate content.

Why we care: Brands could potentially be at risk of damage to their reputation should their products or services be advertised next to unsuitable content. Digital marketers are calling on Google and Microsoft to give them the chance to opt out of their ad placement experiments in response.

What is happening? Google announced last month that it was planning to use existing search ads in experiments with its new Search Generative Experience. The search engine also said that advertisers would not have the choice to opt out, however, it would be closely monitoring the performance of ad placements during the experimental phase.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is experimenting with ads in its Bing AI chatbot. Advertisers once again are not being given the choice to opt out. However, despite their concerns, the new Bing chatbot has so far received positive feedback from searchers, with 71% giving it the thumbs up in its launch week.

Have Google or Microsoft responded to concerns? Both tech giants have said that they are listening to issues raised by advertisers and are actively working on addressing their feedback. However, as these ad placement experiments are still in the very early stages of testing, marketers still will not be given the choice to opt out.

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How have advertisers responded? Digital marketers are concerned about the content their brands could potentially be associated with and are eager to take back control over where their ads appear online. Some businesses have temporarily pulled their ad spending in response to such restrictions, according to Reuters. Others have described the practices as “not industry standard”.

What have Google and Microsoft said? We’ve asked Google and Microsoft to comment on our story and will update if we hear back.

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid search, paid social, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book ‘Mastering In-House SEO’.

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