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Perplexity Will Embed Ads in Generative AI Search Engine: Report

Perplexity AI is planning to incorporate advertising into responses from its generative AI  conversational search engine, according to a report from AdWeek. The startup will allow brands to sponsor and impact what pops up under related questions in the search results via a new native advertising platform.

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Related questions are populated based on a user’s initial query. The report cited Perplexity’s claim that related questions account for 40% of prompts submitted to the generative AI search engine. Perplexity will offer brands the opportunity to pay to appear among relevant related questions, similar to the sponsored search results from Google. Though that might seem at odds with Perplexity’s boast that advertising-driven models have no place in the responses provided by the AI, Perplexity reportedly had something like this in mind from the beginning.

Perplexity employs both proprietary and third-party large language models, including OpenAI’s GPT portfolio and Meta’s Llama 2 GPT model. The search engine chatbot has a limited free version and a $20 premium subscription. The startup recently raised a $73.6 million funding round and claims to have 10 million monthly active users, so there are a lot of potential eyeballs and financial flexibility to try out different advertising approaches.

This wouldn’t be the only example of a generative AI chatbot exploring ad dollars. Microsoft tested the idea a year ago when the Bing AI chatbot had only just rolled out. Other generative AI advertising has centered more on creating or adapting ads, like the Adthos tool for making an image into an audio commercial. There are also more do-it-yourself generative AI ad tools like those offered by Google and Amazon for creating synthetic images to use in ads.

Perplexity has been on a roll of expansion and upgrades over the last several months. The Rabbit r1 generative AI device that was the talk of CES chose Perplexity’s LLM as the source for answers. Specifically, the Perplexity LLMs with real-time internet access will power Rabbit. Perplexity released them after augmenting the search engine with the ability to answer questions with images and debuting a personalized copilot option.


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