How will the search landscape change in an AI/ChatGPT world?


And what can marketing teams do to succeed as these changes occur?


My guest David Wilson oversees the digital marketing team at Zozimus agency and has over 20 years of digital experience in marketing.


In this episode, he’ll share his thoughts on the relationship between search and AI, analyze how new technology will impact marketing, and weigh in on Bing’s new AI chatbot.


Mentioned in this episode:



Voiceover: This is Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success with Steffen Horst and Dave Antil.


Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they build successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst. The topic for today’s episode is search and the GPT AI world. Here to speak with me is David Wilson, the EVP digital marketing and analytics of services. David has over 20 years of experience in digital marketing work in both in house and proof agencies. He has successfully grown leads and revenue for a wide range of clients ranging from SMBs to Fortune 100 in both b2b and b2c. Currently, he oversees the digital marketing team at CMOS agency and provides paid media social media SEO in analytic services. David, welcome to the show.


David  Wilson: Stephen, thank you very much for having me. I’m really looking forward to our conversation.


Steffen:  David, before we start talking about today’s topic, tell us a little bit more about yourself. How did you get started in your career? And what led you to leading digital marketing team assessment?


David:  It’s a great question. So I got started a long, long time ago. And like pre Google to sedate myself, I was working for a small internet company. It was an ISP at the time, we had these business clients who came to us and said, this internet thing, you know, we want to build a website on it. So I built websites. And then they asked the question, well, how’s people going to find it. And I found that driving people to the website was much more enjoyable than building the website, because driving people was numbers based. So it’s like we either succeeded or we didn’t, it wasn’t a I don’t like that. But I can’t tell you why. And the color or, or the layout on the website. So that’s how I got started in my career by taking meat from, you know, big agencies working with the holding companies and the big companies is just spoke about smaller agencies and affiliate markets in house. And then about four and a half years ago, I moved over to him to Zaza as I had been in house for a b2b and SaaS company, they were in the process of getting sold. And I got this opportunity to work with, you know, a friend of mine was working with an agency in Boston. And she said, looking over there, paid search, SEO, analytics and SEO and, and it has been really enjoyable for me to actually go back into having a wide variety of clients. were mainly in, you know, higher ed and finance, medical devices are three big niches. But you know, we cover a wide group of clients, that gives me a really good perspective about what’s going on across the whole internet. Instead of just like SAS marketing, where that’s that’s all I’m focused on. And as a much better, more gratifying, overall viewpoint that I get to see now.


Steffen:  It’s interesting that you say that I’ve never worked on client sites, you know, but I always wondered if it gets boring at some point, that gets boring when you work with the client, just because that’s one client. I mean, sure, there are different challenges that you have there too, but it’s not as wide as when you have different clients from different industries with different challenges, etc.


David:  I was lucky in that the boss, I had it at Ipswich, sugar bought by progress software was I kept getting promoted. So I started off with SEO and paid and that sort of got expanded into working with Reb ops team, to then handing out working with a and BDM team that was we had one in Galway, Ireland and one and then Medellin, Colombia, so So I was able to sort of expand that. So I wasn’t just working on one ad as an account, you know, for a period of time, I got to look at a whole variety of different pay tactics, and specific to b2b, which was really good. But I think how it helps me in an agency standpoint is it allows me to sit in the seats of the client and say, if I was a client, I would be asking this. And, um, you know, and my team, you know, what, especially when I first started, my team would just look at me like, you know, what are you saying, and we’d go into a meeting, right, and the client would ask that same question. And so I think that’s why in house is really useful from an agency standpoint. It lets you understand the pain points that client is going through, and think it helps develop better solutions.


Steffen:  Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Now, shut up to something that kind of popped up last year. For the majority of people I mean, for people that are in the EO AI world. They weren’t aware of what was going on for that but for the majority of people that were just just popped up at anywhere, you know, businesses started to kind of look at it, what can we use it for, et cetera? And then kind of, I think that was set up at three. And now just recently, I think, as we record this, I think about two, three weeks ago set up 84 was released, which is a huge improvement to the third version, obviously. And as such as kind of improving, the question always comes up, how can it be used for different industries, right? So wherever your listener is working in, you know, whatever challenges you have, kind of solution, like shut up to any AI solution, help you overcome certain shown to improve certain things. So today, we want to talk about search. But let’s start off a little bit wider. How will shed GPT, or AI tools, impact marketing? David?


David:  I think this, as you said, is like, you know, we’d had this conversation the first week of April 1 week in January and have been like, you know, what is this thing? It’s amazing how much has happened in a quarter? It really is remarkable. So answering the question, How will it help marketers? Well, I think we’ve seen already, if you’re in content production, blog, right? And if you’re doing video scripts, if you’re doing social media, caption social media, hashtags, things of that nature. You know, this saves so much time that, you know, it might take a week to do a blog post. Well, now it now it today, right? And the chatty DPO give you the first version, your editor can then work on it, but now they’re working from something that’s half developed, right? It really, it really shuts that down. So if you use it well, speed to market really, really decreases. And I think for a lot of companies, the faster they get into market is that where That’s where they win, right? That allows them to get some of them to market to iterate to test, and to grow. And they can, the more frequently they can do that. I believe the more the likelihood of them being successful is so I think you have that pot. And that’s the part that everyone talks about. Right? That’s what all the tools are. I’m really excited about the plugins which are now coming to GTP for so Zapier is already on there. And Instacart is on there. Right. So I can see chat gdb for being a dashboard. And you go to and it’s connected to your Salesforce and your HubSpot, and your Mikado and your Shopify, right. And you can you can, you can ask it, the email campaign that we sent out over the weekend, what was the open rate? And you know, how much revenue did I get? And how many of them were from new customers in plain language? And you will get that answer in like 30 seconds, you don’t have to contact three people on your team, or the one person on your team and add that to your list that you can do that. So the ability to get data, I think is is really going to fundamentally change how we market going forward, because we’ll have more data that’s going to be widely available. So there’s that and I think that’s the part that everybody’s focused on. The other part. And the part that really interests me is how does this impact search? Right? We’ve spent the last 20 years going to Google, right? And we type it in and we get 10 blue links. We trusted this the best answer and we go from there. In early February, I got a Bing Bing chat, right I had access to that totally changed how I look to search. Because once you’ve had a chat experience, which is similar to a chat TTP experience, but once you’ve used that you’re like, Well, wait, why do I need 10 links? I want the answer. And that’s what chat GTP gives us whether it’s bad or being or chatty before, it gives us the answer to the question that we have. And once you’ve experienced that enough, it’s really, really difficult to go back to the other part. And I think also with that is that what I find fascinating is that the chat bots, lead you down a buyers journey, you can ask them a generic question, you know, tell me about network monitoring software. Right. And that will give you a nice answer. And then I will give you three questions. Right? Which one of these are you interested in? If you would do higher ed, if you’re talking about a university or school, it gives you three options, and variably those are not the option to the marketing department and the school or the software company think that you should be going down. But for some reason the AI disagrees with that based on all the data that they have. And I think that a lot of marketing departments will need to have to start to look at So, what are these paths? You know, what is this new buyers journey that I have to be aware of? Because I thought it was something different than what it looks to be now. And I need to adjust.


Steffen:  Yeah. Now, one thing that really comes to mind here is probably the need for asking more detailed questions. So even if you have a very generic question, you will have to add a lot of fluff around it to explain exactly what you want. If I just asked, you know, I want to buy a blue shirt, right? Or what is the best blue shirt? The system bias will give me an answer. If I say I want to tell me the best blue shirt and give me five options, I would assume the system giving you five options, so that I then can make decisions, or I want to have a blue shirt with certain characteristics, right? You name it. So when we go to search engines, I mean, you and I, we are educated search marketers. So we should know and probably know how to use the search engine. But the average Joel might just type things in, they will feed those people have to learn how to probably use that system to get the most out of them and not being, as you said, Let down a buyers journey.


David:  I totally agree. I think that there’s two paths, I think there’s a job career paths that somebody around how good you are at these prompts. I think you can have a super valuable asset within a company position within a company, if you’re really good at understanding the prompts. But I would go back if you’re the average consumer, most consumers didn’t know how to use Google. Right? And you would go and you do the same thing on Google. Right? You would type in blue shirt, and then you realize, well, that doesn’t help me. Right now I need to get specific with my search. You know, it’s like, I mean, I’m in Southern New Hampshire, right? So if I’m looking to buy something, I ended up putting, you know, in New Hampshire, near me, something like that. Right? So the search term got expanded for that. And I think the chatty DP walk in, will get the same treatment, and will evolve over the next six to nine months.


Steffen:  So you’re basically banking on people self educating themselves and learning how to get the most out of that form of finding information?


David:  Yes, and no. So yes, I think that the early adopters, and for, you know, I think they would learn that by themselves. I think the chat a i, because it’s already creating decision trees for you, based on your answer that will take you down different paths. I think that that will evolve. People will say, Oh, yeah, now that’s the detail that I was looking for. And it will click on that. So I think the AI will get better, which will help direct. And I think we as humans will get a little better at adding in the prompts.


Steffen:  If we wouldn’t have cookies disappearing, this could be a great thing, right? Because if you have cookies, you could store previous information in those cookies. And therefore, you would learn about the person at the end of the day, right? You would learn what their preferences are, what they like, what they dislike, size, color, you name it, and therefore, that search engine on your machine could become so much more knowledgeable about you really personalized.


David:  I think, yeah, I think there’s two parts me as an individual, the ability to be able to tie, Google Drive, Microsoft Office, all of that, together with a chat that’s privacy driven just for me, would be phenomenal. I mean, I spent half my day searching something and Outlook or Google drivers, like where do they put that file? So I think that would be great. I think from a consumer standpoint, the interesting thing with the chat is all of this conversation is not taking place on your website. It’s not on GAAP, right? It’s taking place on chat or on being bad. You don’t get to the website. So all of this money that you’ve spent on branding, and how your website looks and the colors, and all of that doesn’t really apply unless you show up in the search, right? Unless you’re one of these reference sources that says, you know, these are the three or four sources that we think are relevant to this. And if you’re not one of those, you don’t show up in the search. And if you don’t show up in the search, you’re never gonna get any search engine traffic, and that this situation is going to be really tough for businesses the second half of the year.


Steffen:  Let’s stay with this for a second because, you know, obviously search is a medium where people go they have a need and they look for information and stuff. into display advertising where we are bombarded with advertisement, whether we like it or not right, based on what we’ve done before. But with search, if I start with a very generic topic, I can go on a journey in discovering again, obviously, I like shirts to buy a shirt. So that’s my journey. That’s where I start. And now I find out about all these companies that have the shirts that I like, whether it’s a cut size, color, you name it, right, but I go to join, and the further I go down the funnel, the more narrow my searches will be. And the narrower also, I will be in regards to what I like what I’m going for. I almost want to point out, when I think about this shed approach, that’s where I see things will get lost, so to speak. Because if I don’t have 10 search results on the search result page by where I can then myself make a decision on going to all of them, or whatever kind of pitch mantras, that will literally go away, but would go wave for for the people, which limits the opportunity for companies that are not known that are new to the market, because the point of entry for them will be very difficult, you know, they might have to pay a lot to be picked up. We have to do certain things to be considered by the artificial intelligence to be suggested. What are your thoughts on that?


David:  I think that you hit it nail on the head head on the now will we say that will restate that? I agree. Exactly. I think that I think there’s two things that come out from mine, one from an SEO standpoint, because my background is is SEO is that I think that PR now replaces link building that you know, get an A D 30. linker D 40. Lincoln, a website doesn’t matter if it doesn’t show up in an AI, right, so PR now becomes crucial to that. But also, if you look at the infrastructure, if you go with my premise that this three search engines now is just TTP, this being in his Google, one often relies for 95% of his income. Being under 5%, of Microsoft and chat GDP is gone with a different model. If you use the Bing chat and chat GTP, it’s difficult to see where you insert paid ads, you might get a sponsored or place around this. But on a typical results page, you get, you know, three, four or five paid spots, depending on the type of search, right and you got the shop and feed I mean, there could be 1015 paid spots, you can get 10 to 15 paid spots in a in a chat, which means the number of them are gonna decrease, and the cost of them is gonna go higher. And that’s, that’s where I see I don’t see that that changing is that doesn’t matter to being better said because it’s such a small piece of their revenue, if I was Google, who have the third, out of the three search engines BOD is the worst of the three. If I was Google, I am really concerned about that.


Steffen:  If we look at it on the flip side, though, it might reshuffle the entire search engine market, right. I mean, maybe Bing, or the company, you know, where you don’t even know if comes up with a model that actually allows the monetization I mean, at the end of the day, it’s an advertising model and monetization. Right, that there comes up with the monetization model that’s still enabled this discovery. So awareness, consideration and action, you know, approach uses that artificial intelligence to provide much more direct answers for the individual that is searching for information.


David:  Yeah, I mean, I would like to see in this place going back to this sort of personalized desktop search. But if we use whichever one of these chat engines we like, and it becomes personalized enough, that would know that when you put in that you’re looking for a search for a shirt, and we’d know, Oh, these are the three this Stephen likes, these are these brands. So let me just bring up these for you and let you let me tell you what’s going on with them. Right. So personalized search that Alexa never got to that Siri never got to the Google tried to do it never got to, right. You know, I could envision a situation where that and maybe it’s like, Hey, these are the three that you like. And let me introduce another one that you might not be aware of right? And then that starts to become really interesting, where it’s like, I’ve got my brand and I’m introducing something else based on your specific history and your preferences and that can be really powerful.


Steffen:  Yeah, yeah. Now you mentioned already be right and then being as the first major search engine to launch within AI powered chatbot your initial thoughts?


David:  I really like it. And as I said, once, once you’ve used it as like, Huh, why would I? Why would I go back to research? You know, I was doing something as simple as we’re looking at getting a new car, my wife and I were having discussions like, we want to, you know, it’s 2023. We want an Eevee model. On SUVs one is like, you know, what, what do we want? So, go to Bing. And it’s like, asking, you know, what, what are the best ones? And then it comes up with the top five, and it’s like, okay, and these, you know, we pulled it from current driver and admins and something else that’s like, well, I didn’t have to go to all of those websites to read it to find it. They miss out on all the traffic. But this is great for me, because I’ve got, I’ve got the answer really, really quickly. And now I have a starting point, because I’m like, okay, these, you know, however I phrase this, I get these two or three consistently. And now those become the ones that I go, and I follow up on. So I really like it, because it gives me answers to the questions that I have. And I think that if you do that for for a week, and after a week I was sold on it. I’m like, yeah, don’t make me go search for an answer. Just give me the answer.


Steffen:  It cuts our time. But I mean, we save time, as you said, you don’t have to visit all of these websites, you know, you got an aggregated, you get aggregate information that helps you make a decision on where to what to do next, basically.


David:  Yes, exactly. And if you can take that, with the plugins, it’s coming into, like, you know, for restaurants and different stuff like that, where it’s, you know, I don’t have to go to Yelp, I don’t you know, church GDP and OpenTable plugin comes in. And now I’m now I’m looking for what’s the best Italian restaurant and Manchester, New Hampshire. There you go. We pull in all the reviews. For everyone else. Here’s the two and here’s the rest. He’s what’s open for you. Great, I’ll do that. Nope. All that time this good St. Is would be phenomenal. If I’m a restaurant and Manchester, New Hampshire that sells Italian food, I might be really concerned about it if I didn’t come up in that search.


Steffen:  Of course. So what do you think, an AI powered chatbot will have on SEO and website traffic? I mean, you already hinted, you know, obviously, as it relates to website traffic, they might actually see a decline in website traffic just because people don’t necessarily have to go to the good website to get information.


David:  Yeah, so this split data path, is that where the website design, companies invest an awful lot of money on that look and feel on their website. And they hope that you know, that you come in, and you follow the path that they’ve laid out. But if I’m a user, and they become used to use and chat to get answers to questions, I when I come to your website, I want a chatbot. Have you done this? Right? If they come into our website and Europe School University, have you done? Have you worked in higher ed? Bingo? Yes, here’s a case studies. Great. Let me read them, how to find out about you. Everything else is just background noise. Nobody needs it. So I think this can have a really big impact on how websites are designed going forward. And for SEO, as I said, most of the talk about SEO is how you can pump out more content in a quicker period of time. But to me, it comes back to if you don’t show up in the AI searches, it doesn’t matter how much content you put out, because users won’t find you. So and the end result of that is you will get less website traffic. And I think the second half of the year, you know, we’re in we’re in higher ed, as I said, finance, I think these are places that we’ll see significantly lower organic traffic in the second half of the year. And then the AI now is this adoption comes out.


Steffen:  I mean, content has been important, as long as I can think about, you know, yeah, that’s the beginning. I mean, if you don’t have code on your website, how are people supposed to find you because search engines can’t index you and then can’t kind of suggests your website for specific search term. You said obviously, you know, more content is probably even sort of focused on content is probably one thing. But it also highlights what you just said. It’s still it’s not just more content, it’s about the right content. And then kind of doing enough research to identify what will help you get visible to these chatbots not just having a list in an in an old form search result page basically, on an old form search results.


David:  No, no, I I totally agree here, it’s an sell old way of doing SEO. So let’s go back to q4 of last year, right? We’re going to use my as a stress Pick, pick your tool of choice. And we’re going to generate keywords to go and target. What I would say in q2 of 2023, as marketers should be going on these chat bots, and working their way through all of these searches, and seen as one of the search phrases that will come up, and then build content around that. Because, you know, just a simple one that says, you know, is, is ABC Corp, a reputable company? Being chat will rearrange that to reviews of ABC Company. Right? So it’s like, well, that’s not the term, actually the term is reviews. And if you don’t enter the term, you won’t know that. So now you need to figure that answer. Okay. Now, any content around reviews? And where’s it going to be? So, you know, I think that something that all marketers should be doing is, go spend a day or two, work your way through each one’s different. And look and see what are the suggested phrases in terms going down your funnel? What’s the top of the funnel? That the AI says, these are all the related terms? And then as you said, Now look and see is, am I showing up for it? No, I’m not, why not? What’s you know, what’s my middle of the funnel? What’s my bottom of the funnel? And then how can I optimize my content around that, and now becomes really, really key.


Steffen:  That’s a great last point, actually. And finally, we come to the end of today’s podcast episode. David, thank you so much for joining me on a performance of our podcast and having this discussion with me about you know, what does shed GPT in the AI world, what are they going to do in the search environment? Such marketing environment now if people want to find out more about you, and awesomeness, how can you get in touch?


David:  And so my email address is D Wilson, w i l. So when Or they can find me on LinkedIn at David Wilson.


Steffen:  Sounds good. As always, we’ll leave that information in the show notes. Thanks, everyone for listening. If you’d like to post about podcasts, please subscribe to us. Leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. You want to find out more about supporting digital, you can visit us at or follow us on Twitter at Symphonic HQ. Thanks again and see you next time.


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