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How to Create a Buyer Persona for Your Business

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Looking to create a buyer persona for your business? You’re in the right place.

Many companies have experience creating buyer personas. It’s usually done after a day of brainstorming in a meeting room. After the session, documents with demographic and psychographic details (married, have two kids, own a car, etc.)—appear, and the executives are satisfied. They’re even given names—Anna Agency, Billy Blogger, etc.—to remind the marketing team that they’re marketing to actual human beings. 

But these “buyer personas” are then tucked into the recesses of Google Drive, never to be seen again. You spend time “identifying” these personas, yet they have zero effect on any marketing activities.

Why? Because these buyer personas were not created in the right way. As such, they’re not helpful and can’t influence a company’s marketing strategy.

In this post, we’ll learn how to create a buyer persona that you can actually use to impact your business. 

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your target customers. They’re semi-fictional because while they’re not actually real people, they’re based on market research and data you have about existing customers. 

Why are buyer personas important?

While every customer is different, it’s almost impossible for most companies to address all of them individually. (There are exceptions, however, which is why account-based marketing exists.)

However, buyers do generally have similar wants and needs. So, rather than cater to every individual difference, a buyer persona allows you to address those similarities in your marketing.

For example, a hobby blogger and an in-house marketer are entirely different people on the surface. But they do have a similar goal: to get more traffic to their website. So, rather than targeting them differently, we can address the main issue—how to get more traffic—and attract all of them to our business. 

Also, since the buyer personas you’re creating are born out of actual stories related to your buyers, creating a buyer persona will help you understand your customers deeply—how they think and make decisions, who they’re influenced by, and so on. 

This will help you create and align your messaging, product, customer service, etc., with what your customers actually want and need. 

Finally, a buyer persona helps you visualize your buyers. Many companies make the mistake of focusing too inwards and forgetting who their products are serving. A buyer persona serves as a reminder that you are selling to actual people. 

How to create a buyer persona

Creating a buyer persona isn’t about downloading a template and filling it in. It’s about talking to real people and understanding their perspectives. 

Here’s how to create a buyer persona:

1. Find people to interview

Creating a buyer persona means picking up the phone (or, these days, a Zoom call) and talking to your customers. 

That means the first step is to find people to interview. Who should you talk to? The easiest group of people to start with—and the ones you should start with—are your customers. 

Finding them should be relatively easy. You should have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool where you store your customer data. Look through the list and pick out those you’d like to interview. A quick way to narrow the list is to find your best buyers—those who have been with you the longest or spent the most money with you. 

If you’re just starting out and have no customers, don’t worry. You should have a general idea of who your product or service is for. Reach out to these people and see if they would be up for an interview. You can probably find them in their respective communities on Facebook, Telegram, Discord, Slack, Twitter, Reddit, etc. You can also consider attending physical events like conferences and meetups. 

At an early stage, these interviews can simultaneously act as customer development interviews and help you determine product-market fit.

Now, while you should talk to your customers, note that talking only to them isn’t enough. After all, these people have bought from you and used your products or services. They’re clearly satisfied with what they’ve gotten. So, interviewing them might only yield stories where your business got it right. 

Everyone wants to hear good things, but knowing where you came up short is also important. So, beyond your customers, there are other people you should interview. Here are some options:

A. Your users

Users are people who have started a trial with you or used a free version of your product but didn’t convert into a customer. You have users if you’re a SaaS or even a gym that offers a one-month trial. 

Again, this group of people should be relatively easy to find as they would have submitted their contact details to access your trial or free product. For example, if we wanted to interview our users, we could easily find everyone who signed up for our free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools but is not currently a customer.

Ahrefs Webmaster Tools signups in the past 7 days.

B. Your sales prospects

This group of people either reached out to your sales team (e.g., for a demo) or talked to your sales team but did not purchase your product. They may not necessarily be users. 

Likewise, your sales team should have the details of these people. Work with your sales team to identify who they are and reach out to them. 

2. Reach out to them for interviews

Once you’ve identified a list of people you’d like to talk to, send them an email and ask them if they’d like to hop on a call with you.

Be honest and transparent. Tell them directly that you’re trying to learn more about your customers and that you’d like to hear about their experience. 

Make sure to state the time commitment upfront so you don’t scare them away. 20-30 minutes should suffice for the interview. 

Also, assure them that it is not a sales call. Especially if you’re interviewing your users or sales prospects, they might be wary that you will use the opportunity to segue into a sales pitch. 

Finally, you can offer an incentive to show appreciation for your customer’s time. It’ll also help encourage take-ups. 

Adrienne Barnes of Best Buyer Persona says that she has found that discounts on your product (especially when talking to your customers) have yielded great success. Alternatively, charitable donations to your customer’s charity of choice (under their name) are also a great incentive idea to try. 

3. Interview them

With the interviews scheduled, it’s time to do the actual interview. 

Before the interview begins, ask if you can record it. This is important because we’re not going to lean on our unreliable memories to try and parse out insights. And while note-taking during the interview is essential, excessive note-taking disrupts the session. 

When your interviewee has signified an “ok,” you can start.

Adele Revella of Buyer Persona Institute suggests that you begin with this question, “Take me back to the day when you first decided to evaluate [the category of solution your product fits into] and tell me what happened.”

This should set the tone and allow your interviewee to relate their experience. 

You can also ask questions based on Adele Revella’s famous Five Rings of Buying Insight:

  1. Priority Initiatives — What’s causing buyers to invest in products like yours? What about buyers who are satisfied with the status quo?
  2. Success Factors — What results does your buyer expect to achieve from buying your (or a similar) product?
  3. Perceived Barriers — What concerns do your buyers have regarding your product? What’s stopping them from buying?
  4. Buyer’s Journey — How do buyers evaluate their options?
  5. Decision Criteria — Which aspects of your competitors do buyers consider the most important? 

From there, follow these tips to ensure a smooth interview:

  • Give interviewees time to respond. Your interviewees are not robots with prepared answers to every question. Silence is golden—give them space and time to think through their thoughts and respond. 
  • Listen. Don’t insert your own opinions or defend yourself or your products. Your goal is to find answers, not sell or be judged by a court of opinion. Make sure to listen to what your customers are saying. 
  • Ask “why” and ask follow-up questions based on what they’ve said (and use the words they’re using). Your interviewees may not answer your questions directly or fully. Or maybe they might need prodding to provide more information. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions and get them to clarify what they’re saying. You want to be on the same page. Even better: use the words they’ve been using so you can build rapport with them and get them to open up more. 
  • Don’t be afraid to guide your interviewees. It is likely that they will not answer chronologically. They might skip ahead and add a flashback to their story. You should feel comfortable slowing down the pace and guiding them back to the part of the conversation you’re interested in. 

4. Organize your data

When the interviews are over, you’d want to get them transcribed. Use a service like Rev.com to turn them into text. 

Next, it’s time to mark up your interview transcripts. You can then read through the transcripts and identify patterns (such as commonly repeated words and phrases) among what your customers are saying.

When you see two or more of the same pattern, create a category for them. The easiest way to create these “categories” is via the marketing funnel.

The Marketing Funnel.The Marketing Funnel.

For example, say we interviewed a few of our customers at Ahrefs. Reading through the transcripts, we noticed that one commonly repeated phrase was “we wanted to figure out how to rank in Google for more keywords related to our business.” Since we sell an SEO toolset, we could easily file that under the category of “Interest.”

You can do all of this in Google Sheets. 

Using Google Sheets to record important data from persona research.Using Google Sheets to record important data from persona research.

An alternative method of marking up the transcript is to follow the Five Rings of Buying Insights.

5. Create your buyer persona(s) by segmenting your data

Finally, you’d want to segment your data into different audiences. 

Here are some ways you can segment your audience, courtesy of Adrienne Barnes:

  1. The “jobs to be done” your customers bought your product for
  2. Pain points
  3. Usage
  4. Company size
  5. Industry

Sometimes there are clearly two different people you can see popping out of your data. Sometimes, there’s clearly just one “job-to-be-done,” so you only have one persona. How you segment and how many segments you should create depends entirely on your business and customers. There’s no perfect way to go about it. 

Once you’ve identified your segments, transfer them into a document(s) with all the relevant qualitative data. 

How to use your buyer persona in your marketing

The goal of creating your buyer persona is to use them in your marketing. Not store them somewhere and forget about them. 

So, here’s how to use buyer personas:

1. Positioning

Positioning consultant April Dunford writes that “positioning is the act of deliberately defining how you are the best at something that a defined market cares a lot about.”

You can use the information you’ve gathered to fix or adjust your positioning with what your customers care about.

2. Creating content for the different stages of the buyer’s journey

To create content for the buyer’s journey, you need to know who the buyer is. And you need to know how they progress through each stage until they purchase your product. 

You now have both pieces of information. 

For example, let’s say we’ve created a buyer persona at Ahrefs. We’ll call him Billy Blogger. And here’s Billy Blogger’s journey:

An example buyer's journey.An example buyer's journey.

In the Awareness stage, Billy is struggling with getting more traffic to his site. So, if we’re creating content for this stage, we’re looking for topics related to:

  • Website traffic
  • Blog traffic

Here’s how we can find topics related to this stage to target:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter the above terms
  3. Go to the Matching terms report

Since the “Awareness stage” keywords are mostly informational, we’ll switch the toggle to Questions.

Finding keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.Finding keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer.

As you can see, there are over 1,600 potential topics we can target. However, since not all of them will be relevant to us, we’ll eyeball the list and pick out relevant ones. 

We can repeat this step to look for topics for the other stages of the buyer’s journey.

Recommended reading: What Is the Buyer’s Journey? How to Create Content for Every Stage

3. Alignment with sales and product teams

With the information from your buyer interviews, you can help your sales team anticipate buying barriers, create relevant marketing and sales materials, and prepare tools and arguments for moving customers towards purchase.

Likewise, it can also help your product teams create products that customers want and remove friction from how they use your product. 

Here are some frequently asked questions about buyer personas. 

1. How many buyer interviews should I do?

To kickstart your process, aim to conduct at least ten interviews. But bear in mind that buyer interviews are not a “campaign.” Ideally, you should be doing this every month—meeting buyers, interviewing them, getting real-life stories and quotes, and updating your buyer persona document (where necessary). 

2. What questions should I ask in the interview?

There’s no fixed set of questions to ask. Most of it should come spontaneously and naturally since there should be follow-up questions based on what your interviewee says. 

Other than that, you should also be constructing questions based on what you want to know. And this depends heavily on your business, product, customers, and the existing information you have.

However, if you really need a set of questions to ask (or at least use as inspiration), I like this list from Mike Fishbein.

3. Should I include demographics and psychographics in my buyer persona?

In the introduction, I poo-pooed the idea of adding these details to your buyer persona. But they’re not all that bad. 

You can add them if they’re actually useful to your marketing. Although there are plenty of times, especially in B2B and software, where this information is not useful.

Think about it: If you’re selling a martech software, does it matter whether ‘Charlie CMO’ is married? If his partner is the CEO or CFO, it does, but that’s an exceptional circumstance. Usually, it won’t impact your marketing.

However, it is useful if you own a wedding photography business. A married person doesn’t need wedding photography services, so demographic information such as marital status would be helpful to such a business. 

4. Can I do surveys instead of calling my customers?

I know. Picking up the phone or hopping onto Zoom calls can be intimidating. But there’s no substitute for actually talking to someone. 

Plus, surveys have to be designed by someone. And that someone can only design a survey based on their existing knowledge. That means a survey can be subjected to the designer’s unintended bias and therefore fail to discover new or unexpected insights. 

Sidenote.

Interview questions can be subject to the interviewer’s unintended bias too. So make sure that you create open-ended questions and leave them to your interviewee to answer in any way they like. Do not insert your opinion or try to guide them to the answer you want to hear. 

You don’t want to conduct multiple surveys and end up only perpetuating your confirmation bias. 

Instead, use surveys to validate the insights you acquired via your interviews. See if the comments given by your interviewees are one-off or representative of a larger audience set.

5. How many buyer personas should I create?

Adele Revella writes:

The fundamental question isn’t how many buyer personas are required, but rather how many ways do you need to market your solution so that you can persuade buyers that your approach is ideally suited to their needs?

We can achieve this goal only if the way we define our buyer personas makes it easy to know when a different version of our story will result in more business for the company.

Adele RevellaAdele Revella

This is the reason why we’re less concerned with demographics but more with the “job-to-be-done.” When you segment by demographics, it’s tempting to create every variation after the sun—after all, there isn’t just Charlie CMO; there’s also Claire CMO, Chantelle CMO, CMO Chen, and so on. 

However, since they are CMOs, they will have similar “jobs-to-be-done.” And if you find that to be true from your interviews, you can create one buyer persona to target them all. But if you find that some expectations are different, then that’s when you can consider creating another buyer persona. 

If you think that creating another buyer persona can help you market your product better—like what Adele Revella says—then consider investing some resources to conduct additional buyer interviews to “prove” that this persona exists. Surveys can work, too—use them to see if your current findings apply across all segments. 

6. Should you interview the “final decision maker” (e.g., CMO, CFO, CEO)?

In many companies, especially large ones, —the final decision maker is a higher-up. And traditionally, many sales teams are taught to target the final decision maker to sell their products.

In that case, should you take cues from the sales team? Probably not. That is because while the “final decision maker” gives the ok to buy, they may not be involved much in the evaluation process. 

If so, interviewing them (if they’re even available in the first place) will not yield much insight. You’re better off interviewing people who are involved. 

Final thoughts

This post would not have been possible without the work of Adele Revella and Adrienne Barnes. If you’d like to explore more of their work, I recommend:

  1. Reading Adele Revella’s book, Buyer Personas
  2. Listening to this podcast episode, where Adrienne Barnes explains how to create buyer personas

Any questions or comments about creating buyer personas? Let me know on Twitter.

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Google’s AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

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Google's AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

An analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries by Bartosz Góralewicz, founder of Onely, reveals the impact of Google’s AI overviews on search visibility for online retailers.

The study found that 16% of eCommerce queries now return an AI overview in search results, accounting for 13% of total search volume in this sector.

Notably, 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.

“Ranking #1-3 gives you only an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews,” Góralewicz stated.

Shift Toward “Accelerated” Product Experiences

International SEO consultant Aleyda Solis analyzed the disconnect between traditional organic ranking and inclusion in AI overviews.

According to Solis, for product-related queries, Google is prioritizing an “accelerated” approach over summarizing currently ranking pages.

She commented Góralewicz’ findings, stating:

“… rather than providing high level summaries of what’s already ranked organically below, what Google does with e-commerce is “accelerate” the experience by already showcasing what the user would get next.”

Solis explains that for queries where Google previously ranked category pages, reviews, and buying guides, it’s now bypassing this level of results with AI overviews.

Assessing AI Overview Traffic Impact

To help retailers evaluate their exposure, Solis has shared a spreadsheet that analyzes the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.

As Góralewicz notes, this could be an initial rollout, speculating that “Google will expand AI overviews for high-cost queries when enabling ads” based on data showing they are currently excluded for high cost-per-click keywords.

An in-depth report across ecommerce and publishing is expected soon from Góralewicz and Onely, with additional insights into this search trend.

Why SEJ Cares

AI overviews represent a shift in how search visibility is achieved for ecommerce websites.

With most overviews currently pulling product data from non-ranking sources, the traditional connection between organic rankings and search traffic is being disrupted.

Retailers may need to adapt their SEO strategies for this new search environment.

How This Can Benefit You

While unsettling for established brands, AI overviews create new opportunities for retailers to gain visibility without competing for the most commercially valuable keywords.

Ecommerce sites can potentially circumvent traditional ranking barriers by optimizing product data and detail pages for Google’s “accelerated” product displays.

The detailed assessment framework provided by Solis enables merchants to audit their exposure and prioritize optimization needs accordingly.


FAQ

What are the key findings from the analysis of AI overviews & ecommerce queries?

Góralewicz’s analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries found:

  • 16% of ecommerce queries now return an AI overview in the search results.
  • 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.
  • Ranking positions #1-3 only provides an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews.

These insights reveal significant shifts in how ecommerce sites need to approach search visibility.

Why are AI overviews pulling product data from non-ranking sources, and what does this mean for retailers?

Google’s AI overviews prioritize “accelerated” experiences over summarizing currently ranked pages for product-related queries.

This shift focuses on showcasing directly what users seek instead of traditional organic results.

For retailers, this means:

  • A need to optimize product pages beyond traditional SEO practices, catering to the data requirements of AI overviews.
  • Opportunities to gain visibility without necessarily holding top organic rankings.
  • Potential to bypass traditional ranking barriers by focusing on enhanced product data integration.

Retailers must adapt quickly to remain competitive in this evolving search environment.

What practical steps can retailers take to evaluate and improve their search visibility in light of AI overview disruptions?

Retailers can take several practical steps to evaluate and improve their search visibility:

  • Utilize the spreadsheet provided by Aleyda Solis to assess the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.
  • Optimize product and detail pages to align with the data and presentation style preferred by AI overviews.
  • Continuously monitor changes and updates to AI overviews, adapting strategies based on new data and trends.

These steps can help retailers navigate the impact of AI overviews and maintain or improve their search visibility.


Featured Image: Marco Lazzarini/Shutterstock



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Google’s AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

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Google's AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

Google’s rollout of AI-generated overviews in US search results is taking a disastrous turn, with mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, BBC, and CNBC reporting on numerous inaccuracies and bizarre responses.

On social media, users are sharing endless examples of the feature’s nonsensical and sometimes dangerous output.

From recommending non-toxic glue on pizza to suggesting that eating rocks provides nutritional benefits, the blunders would be amusing if they weren’t so alarming.

Mainstream Media Coverage

As reported by The New York Times, Google’s AI overviews struggle with basic facts, claiming that Barack Obama was the first Muslim president of the United States and stating that Andrew Jackson graduated from college in 2005.

These errors undermine trust in Google’s search engine, which more than two billion people rely on for authoritative information worldwide.

Manual Removal & System Refinements

As reported by The Verge, Google is now scrambling to remove the bizarre AI-generated responses and improve its systems manually.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company is taking “swift action” to remove problematic responses and using the examples to refine its AI overview feature.

Google’s Rush To AI Integration

The flawed rollout of AI overviews isn’t an isolated incident for Google.

As CNBC notes in its report, Google made several missteps in a rush to integrate AI into its products.

In February, Google was forced to pause its Gemini chatbot after it generated inaccurate images of historical figures and refused to depict white people in most instances.

Before that, the company’s Bard chatbot faced ridicule for sharing incorrect information about outer space, leading to a $100 billion drop in Google’s market value.

Despite these setbacks, industry experts cited by The New York Times suggest that Google has little choice but to continue advancing AI integration to remain competitive.

However, the challenges of taming large language models, which ingest false information and satirical posts, are now more apparent.

The Debate Over AI In Search

The controversy surrounding AI overviews adds fuel to the debate over the risks and limitations of AI.

While the technology holds potential, these missteps remind everyone that more testing is needed before unleashing it on the public.

The BBC notes that Google’s rivals face similar backlash over their attempts to cram more AI tools into their consumer-facing products.

The UK’s data watchdog is investigating Microsoft after it announced a feature that would take continuous screenshots of users’ online activity.

At the same time, actress Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI for using a voice likened to her own without permission.

What This Means For Websites & SEO Professionals

Mainstream media coverage of Google’s erroneous AI overviews brings the issue of declining search quality to public attention.

As the company works to address inaccuracies, the incident serves as a cautionary tale for the entire industry.

Important takeaway: Prioritize responsible use of AI technology to ensure the benefits outweigh its risks.



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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

A keynote at Google’s Marketing Live event showed a new AI-powered visual search results that feature advertisements that engage users within the context of an AI-Assisted search, blurring the line between AI-generated search results and advertisements.

Google Lens is a truly helpful app but it becomes unconventional where it blurs the line between an assistant helping users and being led to a shopping cart. This new way of engaging potential customers with AI is so far out there that the presenter doesn’t even call it advertising, he doesn’t even use the word.

Visual Search Traffic Opportunity?

Google’s Group Product Manager Sylvanus Bent, begins the presentation with an overview of the next version of Google Lens visual search that will be useful for surfacing information and for help finding where to buy them.

Sylvanus explained how it will be an opportunity for websites to receive traffic from this new way to search.

“…whether you’re snapping a photo with lens or circling to search something on your social feed, visual search unlocks new ways to explore whatever catches your eye, and we recently announced a newly redesigned results page for Visual search.

Soon, instead of just visual matches, you’ll see a wide range of results, from images to video, web links, and facts about the knowledge graph. It gets people the helpful information they need and creates new opportunities for sites to be discovered.”

It’s hard to say whether or not this will bring search traffic to websites and what the quality of that traffic will be. Will they stick around to read an article? Will they engage with a product review?

Visual Search Results

Sylvanus shares a hypothetical example of someone at an airport baggage claim who falls in like with someone else’s bag. He explains that all the person needs to do is snap a photo of the luggage bag and Google Lens will take them directly to shopping options.

He explains:

“No words, no problem. Just open Lens, take a quick picture and immediately you’ll see options to purchase.

And for the first time, shopping ads will appear at the very top of the results on linked searches, where a business can offer what a consumer is looking for.

This will help them easily purchase something that catches their eye.”

These are image-heavy shopping ads at the top of the search results and as annoying as that may be it’s nowhere near the “next level” advertising that is coming to Google’s search ads where Google presents a paid promotion within the context of an AI Assistant.

Interactive Search Shopping

Sylvanus next describes an AI-powered form advertising that happens directly within search. But he doesn’t call it advertising. He doesn’t even use the word advertising. He suggests this new form of AI search experience is more than offer, saying that, “it’s an experience.”

He’s right to not use the word advertisement because what he describes goes far beyond advertising and blurs the boundaries between search and advertising within the context of AI-powered suggestions, paid suggestions.

Sylvanus explains how this new form of shopping experience works:

“And next, imagine a world where every search ad is more than an offer. It’s an experience. It’s a new way for you to engage more directly with your customers. And we’re exploring search ads with AI powered recommendations across different verticals. So I want to show you an example that’s going live soon and you’ll see even more when we get to shopping.”

He uses the example of someone who needs to store their furniture for a few months and who turns to Google to find short term storage. What he describes is a query for local short term storage that turns into a “dynamic ad experience” that leads the searcher into throwing packing supplies into their shopping cart.

He narrated how it works:

“You search for short term storage and you see an ad for extra space storage. Now you can click into a new dynamic ad experience.

You can select and upload photos of the different rooms in your house, showing how much furniture you have, and then extra space storage with help from Google, AI generates a description of all your belongings for you to verify. You get a recommendation for the right size and type of storage unit and even how much packing supplies you need to get the job done. Then you just go to the website to complete the transaction.

And this is taking the definition of a helpful ad to the next level. It does everything but physically pick up your stuff and move it, and that is cool.”

Step 1: Search For Short Term Storage

1716722762 15 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows an advertisement that when clicked takes the user to what looks like an AI-assisted search but is really an interactive advertisement.

Step 2: Upload Photos For “AI Assistance”

1716722762 242 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above image is a screenshot of an advertisement that is presented in the context of AI-assisted search.  Masking an advertisement within a different context is the same principal behind an advertorial where an advertisement is hidden in the form of an article. The phrases “Let AI do the heavy lifting” and “AI-powered recommendations” create the context of AI-search that masks the true context of an advertisement.

Step 3: Images Chosen For Uploading

1716722762 187 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows how a user uploads an image to the AI-powered advertisement within the context of an AI-powered search app.

The Word “App” Masks That This Is An Ad

Screenshot of interactive advertisement for that identifies itself as an app with the words

Above is a screenshot of how a user uploads a photo to the AI-powered interactive advertisement within the context of a visual search engine, using the word “app” to further the illusion that the user is interacting with an app and not an advertisement.

Upload Process Masks The Advertising Context

Screenshot of interactive advertisement that uses the context of an AI Assistant to mask that this is an advertisement

The phrase “Generative AI is experimental” contributes to the illusion that this is an AI-assisted search.

Step 4: Upload Confirmation

1716722762 395 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

In step 4 the “app” advertisement is for confirming that the AI correctly identified the furniture that needs to be put into storage.

Step 5: AI “Recommendations”

1716722762 588 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows “AI recommendations” that look like search results.

The Recommendations Are Ad Units

1716722762 751 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Those recommendations are actually ad units that when clicked takes the user to the “Extra Space Storage” shopping website.

Step 6: Searcher Visits Advertiser Website

1716722762 929 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Blurring The Boundaries

What the Google keynote speaker describes is the integration of paid product suggestions into an AI assisted search. This kind of advertising is so far out there that the Googler doesn’t even call it advertising and rightfully so because what this does is blur the line between AI assisted search and advertising. At what point does a helpful AI search become just a platform for using AI to offer paid suggestions?

Watch The Keynote At The 32 Minute Mark

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

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