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Microsoft is exploring ways to share ad revenue it generates through the new Bing, Bing Chat, with select publishers.

Bing Chat has had ads since it launched on Feb. 7. Now, Microsoft says it will look to “share the ad revenue with partners whose content contributed to the chat response.”

What’s new. “We’re also exploring placing ads in the chat experience to share the ad revenue with partners whose content contributed to the chat response,” Microsoft vice president Yusuf Mehdi wrote. “We recently met with some of our partners to begin exploring ideas and to get feedback on how we can continue to distribute content in a way that is meaningful in traffic and revenue for our partners.”

Microsoft Start partners. This seems to be something that Microsoft is conducting through its Microsoft Start partners program.

“For our Microsoft Start partners, placing a rich caption of Microsoft Start licensed content beside the chat answer helping to drive more user engagement with the content on Microsoft Start where we share the ad revenue with the partner.”

– Yusuf Mehdi, Driving more traffic and value to publishers from the new Bing

Microsoft introduced Microsoft Start in 2021. It is a personalized news feed that aggregates content from about 7,500 participating “premium publishers.” Start is available via desktop and mobile devices.

Microsoft gets publishers. Mehdi acknowledged the value of publishers:

“The Internet works because of an important ecosystem which starts with publishers creating great content which drives traffic and interest by people to consume that content, and then ultimately advertisers that want to reach people in a high quality and targeted environment.”

Without publishers, search and chat would not function as well and Microsoft wants to make sure that at least some publishers are compensated so they can continue to generate quality content.

“For the most part this dynamic has worked well as publishers get paid for their content through advertising which enables people to access the content for free,” he added.

Ads in Bing Chat are not new. Many reports have been published in the past 24 hours claiming Bing Chat is just now adding ads. (You can see many of them on Techmeme.) Those reports are simply incorrect.

In fact, on Feb. 7, Microsoft demonstrated ads in Bing Chat. We also reported on meetings Microsoft had with advertisers and brands about the future of ads in Bing Chat.

Here are some of those ad formats (more details from Search Engine Roundtable here). Click to enlarge any of these images:

Why we care. While Google Bard seems to have turned a blind eye to publishers, Microsoft is looking for ways to not just link and drive traffic to publishers but also help them earn revenue from the responses provided by Bing Chat.

It is nice to see one big search engine outwardly talking about compensating publishers for the answers it generates through the content produced by hard-working publishers.

That said, the term “premium publishers” concerns us. It’s nice that ABC News, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, HuffPost, CNN and 7,500 other publishers may get paid, but there are nearly 2 billion websites producing content on the internet. As a percentage, 7,500 isn’t even detectable.

Additional reporting on this story from Chris Elwell.