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AI Is Nigh For Google Search; Streamlining Streaming Sales

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Comic: A Brief History of Search

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Prompt And Search-umstance

Google is ramping up its AI capabilities for its flagship search product, The Drum reports.

During its Google I/O developer conference on Wednesday, the company announced it’s launching Search Labs, an experimental program aimed at expanding AI search functionality.

The first Search Labs experiment, Search Generative Experience (SGE), seeks to develop generative AI that can handle multiple queries within a single prompt. For example, a query about which vacation spot is more appropriate for a family with kids under 3 and a dog would previously have been broken up over multiple searches.

Google will also surface sponsored product recommendations related to the prompt within its AI-powered search results.

The Search Labs launch comes amid the revelation that some Google employees are concerned the company is losing ground in the AI marketplace to open-source developers.

In an internal memo that was leaked last week, a senior Google software engineer said the company is too focused on competing with OpenAI’s Microsoft-backed ChatGPT while ignoring how open-source AI companies are “quietly eating our lunch.”

So, if you were worried the open internet might prevail over Big Tech in the race for AI dominance, fear not – Google’s on the case.

Smooth Sale-ing

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At this point, many advertisers are combining their streaming and cable TV ad buys, and they’re tired of having to deal with multiple sales teams from the same network.

For this year’s upfront season, NBCUniversal announced a sales reorganization to address those frustrations. “Agencies needed us to be easier to deal with,” Mark Marshall, NBCU’s president of advertising and client partnerships, tells AdExchanger.

Prior to the restructuring, NBCU had separate sales teams for linear, streaming and social, meaning a single account could have up to three reps. Marshall says clients can now deal with just a single account director for cross-platform campaigns.

Along with the restructure, NBCU is launching a new business unit meant to help small and midsize advertisers plan and buy TV ads on NBCU.

The need for better media buying efficiency is all the more urgent with agencies and advertisers under intense macroeconomic pressure, Marshall says.

Both the reorg and the new business division are responses to the shifts in the TV ad buying market.

The Only Exception

In February 2021, Airbnb started pulling away from performance marketing in favor of brand marketing. In a Mobile Dev Memo piece, Eric Seufert examines why the brand moved in this direction, debunks common misconceptions swirling around its choice and why the company’s decision paid off.

Seufert notes that Airbnb reducing its performance marketing budget didn’t happen in a vacuum. The COVID-19 pandemic hit revenues hard. Fellow travel industry brands reacted similarly, such as Expedia cutting its ad budget by 80% in 2020.

He also points out that Airbnb still directs dollars to performance marketing. Reduce ≠ eliminate. Plus, performance and brand marketing aren’t exactly bitter foes. They exist on a spectrum and work in concert to drive outcomes for brands.

As for how Airbnb fared so well, Seufert cites what CEO Brian Chesky said in a Q4 2020 earnings call: Airbnb is that rare brand that’s become “a noun and verb in pop culture.”

Bottom line: Brands that aren’t household names with 95% organic traffic should think twice before trimming their performance marketing spend.

But Wait, There’s More!

Marketers know identity is important but have no clear answers on what happens when cookies go away, a survey from Ogury and IDC finds. [Digiday]

Inside Bud Light’s brand identity crisis. [Marketing Brew]

Scope3 launches Climate Shield, a plug-in for DSPs that lets buyers block high-carbon publishers. [Adweek]

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