Apple Intelligence (AI), Impact on Google, More API Leak Local Tactics

Apple Intelligence (AI), Impact on Google, More API Leak Local Tactics

Apple Intelligence: Better Siri + ChatGPT

At Apple's WWDC event yesterday, as expected, the company announced numerous AI features and integrations, including ChatGPT. But it didn't lead with them. The AI announcements were widely expected and partly a function of Wall Street pressure. ChatGPT emerges as just one aspect of Apple's overall AI strategy and brand, which it's calling "Apple Intelligence" (get it). The multiple LLM-based generative features include writing help and image creation, among others. Apple Intelligence will be available across the Mac, iPad and the iPhone later this year. Siri will now be more capable and more deeply integrated into the iPhone, including the ability to control or take action in apps. This was ironically part of the original pre-Apple vision for Siri. It remains to be seen how well this works. Interestingly, ChatGPT was presented as a kind of accessory or add-on rather than at the core of Apple Intelligence. Siri will figure out whether the question or "search" should be handled by ChatGPT and then ask for permission to hand it off. You won't need a ChatGPT account and your data won't be stored. Apple has developed an elaborate solution to manage data privacy in the cloud called "Private Cloud Compute," to be used only when the device can't handle the request. (The AI/Siri discussion in the Apple keynote begins at 1:04).

Our take:

  • Siri must get better and undoubtedly will. But will it be incremental or dramatic or somewhere in-between (probably)?
  • After declaring ChatGPT the best gen-AI model, Apple left open the door to working with Gemini and others in the future (iOS 18).
  • Given Apple's installed base of users globally, ChatGPT should get a major boost in awareness and usage from this deal.

Will Apple Intelligence Impact Google?

One of the immediate questions in the wake of Apple Intelligence is: how much will it impact Google on the iPhone? Many people, including us at Near Media, have long speculated about the potential market impact of some sort of improved Apple general search capability. However, Google's $20 billion in annual "default search" payments to Apple have largely prevented that from materializing. The forthcoming new and improved Siri, including the hypothetical ability to execute actions within apps and access to ChatGPT, suggests that iPhone users might be able to do more in the future without turning to Google. All this is speculation until we can test it. But my instinct is that this combination of new capabilities and ChatGPT access will reduce the number of searches that iPhone users need to do on Google – at least for informational queries. Somewhat strangely, there were a few small Apple Maps announcements but no discussion of any integration with Apple Intelligence. Apple Maps data could be more deeply integrated with Apple Intelligence/Siri to create a more convenient and viable local search experience on the iPhone as part of the broader new-Siri proposition.

A dynamic and intense graphic depicting a samurai battle between an improved Apple Siri search engine and Google. Apple Siri is represented by a sleek, glowing samurai warrior with the Apple logo, wielding a katana made of holographic technology and advanced search algorithms. Google is represented by a powerful samurai figure with the Google colors and logo, wielding a katana made of data streams and search engine prowess. The background is a high-tech, digital battlefield with elements of cyberspace, glowing lines, and data grids. The scene is vibrant and energetic, highlighting the fierce competition between the two tech giants.
Source: ChatGPT

Our take:

  • As Siri becomes better, there's a kind of logic to substituting it (or it + ChatGPT + apps) for Google in some cases and contexts.
  • Google's competitive advantage now boils down to two or three things: its vast data and knowledge graphs, local (its own graph) and habit/familiarity/inertia.
  • If Siri + AI does erode informational queries, Google may see little impact on ad clicks. But there's also a scenario where the very bottom of the funnel (at least re local) is affected: brand and some category queries ("best . . .").

API Leak Local Tactics

Rand Fishkin is a popular podcast guest these days. Recently we had him on the Near Media podcast to discuss the implications of the Google Search API leak. We got into some discussion of local tactical implications but not extensively. (David subsequently wrote about them.) Luckily, Fishkin and Mike King of iPullRank were recently interviewed by Joy Hawkins. The following are some of the tactical recommendations that came out of that discussion. Build your brand through multiple channels, on and offline – and through digital PR. Awareness will improve rankings. If you're entering a new service area you need to create much more content to gain visibility; don't worry about no-follow links. Do internal linking to reinforce desired keywords with a consistent linking structure. Maximize user engagement with your site design and monitor user interactions with Google Search Console to minimize pogo-sticking. Experiment with different tactics and monitor feedback to see what works. In that spirit, they did a live test during the webinar/podcast, directing coordinated audience clicks to a Seattle restaurant (+ some time on site) to see if they could boost their rankings. It seems to have worked.

Our take:

  • Most local marketers don't think a lot about brand (vs. leads/sales). But brand building is hugely important for consumers and also for Google.
  • It's common sense that you need to deliver a great CX – online and offline. But that will also contribute to online visibility long term.
  • Local SEO ultimately requires a mix of great content, PR, brand development, multi-channel marketing, GBP optimization and testing. Rinse and repeat.

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