OpenAI’s Web Search Product Aims to Challenge Google

Google Search could face yet another formidable challenger thanks to OpenAI’s latest developments.

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The ChatGPT maker is working on a web search product partially powered by Microsoft Bing, bringing the startup in more direct competition with Google. The news was first reported by The Information.

It’s unclear whether this product would be a standalone or part of ChatGPT.

However, large language models (LLMs) are trained on huge static blocks of data, not a steady stream of new information like a search engine that indexes the web constantly, said Damian Rollison, director of market insights at martech firm SOCi.

“It’ll be hard [since] search relies on a timeliness of incorporating new information that LLMs are not built for. But if anyone can do it, OpenAI is certainly the one to watch,” he said.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Between the lines

Challengers to Google’s search supremacy have surfaced before, with names such as DuckDuckGo and Neeva (which ceased operations last year due to sustainability issues) making waves in the market.

Even Bing has been a distant second in global online search markets; as of January 2024, Bing’s share of the U.S search market stood at 7.87%, while Google had 87.46%, per Statcounter.

In early 2023, Bing injected OpenAI’s ChatGPT into its search engine.

“We haven’t seen any substantial shift in audiences over to Bing after [ChatGPT integration] in the first six months of 2023,” said Travis Tallent, vice president of SEO at Brainlabs.

Meanwhile, media agency Exverus Media has tested Bing campaigns for various advertisers to drive additional traffic and conversions typically at a lower cost-per-click (CPC). Sometimes CPC is 20% lower compared to Google Search, driven by competitive spend and volume of searches, according to Michael Robbins, senior manager of paid search at Exverus Media.

While the agency hasn’t observed an uptick in user growth on Bing, the combination of low CPC and targeting 55 years or older demographics prompts the agency to allocate no more than 20% of search spend on Bing. Google still gets the lion’s share of 80% of spend.

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