Home Ad Exchange News IAC You On The Other Side; Chatbots Nail The Rehearsal But Aren’t Ready For Showtime

IAC You On The Other Side; Chatbots Nail The Rehearsal But Aren’t Ready For Showtime

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Dot Dot Dot – Dash Dash Dash – Dot Dot Dot

Dotdash Meredith is feeling the same pain as many others amid a pullback in advertising. And IAC’s revenue woes were compounded by soft consumer demand, which dinged its affiliate marketing business, according to its Q4 earnings.

Dotdash Meredith’s Q4 2022 revenue may seem strong at first glance, with 89% year-over-year growth to $477.6 million. But that’s because Meredith’s publisher properties were new to the business last year.

Taking into account Meredith’s profits prior to the acquisition, revenue across print and digital was down 26%, while digital revenue dropped 14% year-over-year to $260.1 million.

The digital revenue dip was due to soft programmatic and direct-sold demand in the key holiday season, as well as traffic declines. Those two factors resulted in a 10% to 15% drop in CPMs. Lower traffic also weakened Dotdash Meredith’s affiliate ecommerce revenue. Although the company says its affiliate business is still strong, it wasn’t strong enough to offset a drop in ad spend from brands that shelled out big in 2021.

“In retrospect, the crypto spend wasn’t sustainable … who knew?” IAC CEO Joey Levin wrote in his letter to investors. Good one.

The Mad Chatters

For all the ink spilled about (and by) content-generating chatbots – not to mention Google’s and Microsoft’s market cap each swinging by more than $100 billion – are content AIs ready for primetime?

The fact that Microsoft shares are jumping and Google’s shares are dropping reflects the perceived difference between OpenAI, the Microsoft-backed maker of ChatGPT and DALL-E, and Google Bard, which was a dud at launch last week. Neither works well for search, though. 

Google Bard was dinged for its easy errors, but ChatGPT-infused Bing responses were perplexingly off, writes software engineer Dmitri Brereton in a blog post. For instance, an itinerary for Mexico City featured restaurants and venues that were way off the mark. Rather than distilling page one of a search for “Mexico City trip ideas,” the Bing chatbot scoured seemingly nonexistent names, locations and online descriptions.

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Unlike ChatGPT, Bing includes citations for AI results, but they don’t always substantiate the claim. 

A best-selling “Bissell pet hair eraser handheld vacuum,” for example, was described as being noisy, with limited suction power and a short cord. You might wonder why and how this product is a bestseller. “Oh wait, this is all completely made up information,” Brereton notes in his post.

ChatGPT and Bard clearly have their work cut out, but so do marketers and publishers in figuring out how to appear appropriately (and correctly) in chatbot responses.

Feed The Buzz

Although machine-learning-based chatbots may not fit the bill for search engines right now, some publishers are leaning into AI-generated content.

BuzzFeed shared its first use of AI tech from OpenAI: a set of quizzes and options to have AI generate pithy romantic comedy bits or breakup messages, including one quiz sponsored by Miracle-Gro that informs readers which type of plant is most like their ideal romantic partner, Bloomberg reports. 

“With this, we have the ability to have an infinite number of results,” says Jessica Probus, BuzzFeed’s SVP of editorial. 😭

BuzzFeed can also help software like ChatGPT evolve into more palatable human interfaces because it’s bringing a human touch to the use of AI.

For instance, BuzzFeed writers testing the product discovered it had scraped a pre-2021 version of the web and couldn’t respond to contemporary news or comments about recent shows and movies.

Also, according to Probus, the chatbots can write coherent sentences but haven’t figured out how to be funny.

But Wait, There’s More!

AMC Networks restructures its sales division to merge linear and digital deals. [Ad Age]

How this branding expert built a following on TikTok. [Marketing Brew]

You’re Hired!

Ogury appoints Emily Barfuss as chief marketing officer. [release]

Carbon intel platform Cedara hires Eric Shih as COO. [release]

Permutive announces four key executive hires, including Chloe Grutchfield as GM of publishers and Sean King as VP of engineering. [release]

SmartFrame Technologies brings on Jennifer Clements as global publishing director. [ExchangeWire]

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