The impact of generative AI on search and ecommerce

Ellie Burns Written by Ellie Burns

5 min read   -  12th December, 2023

The impact of generative AI on search and ecommerce

Generative AI is the buzzword of the moment for search and ecommerce marketers worldwide. But what can it do for your business?

Search and ecommerce are hugely impacted by AI, and its influence on digital marketing and sales is only set to expand over the next decade. Now is the time to act if you want to stay up to date with these developments and not fall behind your competition.

Let’s move beyond the generalised buzzwords and drill down into exactly how generative AI can be used to enhance your resources, time and outcome.

What is generative AI? 

Generative AI is a modern form of content creation, based on a partnership combining deep learning models of AI with your human input.

This covers all sorts of content types. Text such as ad copy and product descriptions can be generated using programs like ChatGPT. But you can also create graphics, photo-realistic images and artwork using various AI apps.

At this point, there are even some emerging options in the video space. So all your key content elements have at least some potential solutions worth exploring in the AI space.

A new era of search

In online search, we’re seeing huge changes and developments in using AI in the analysis of current trends and user behaviour.

But it’s not just demographic and audience analysis that comes into play. AI is being used in more sophisticated ways for campaign analysis. Now, AI has always been used to a certain, more minimal extent in things like PPC, but now it’s entering a new era of development. Here are just a few things you can now do with AI in search.

With AI, you can take massive reports and get the topline metrics in seconds. Spot check for anomalies in huge data sets.

Generate ad copy and variations of existing ad copy, with predictive analysis on what will perform the best when you set it live.

Brainstorm concepts and keyword placement through variations on your existing ad copy, using your existing ads, a competitor’s ads, or even copy from your website or marketing strategy.

Bid optimisation in real time. PPC has been enjoying this AI highlight for several years now, but AI has come a long way over the last few years. 

Predictive analytics. As always, worth taking with a pinch of salt, but these can give strong indicators of what could bring you the best conversion rate in your next campaign. Pair any predictive analytics with your own expert judgement for the best middle-ground.

Images and text in ecommerce

Ecommerce is a natural partner with AI. They both fit into a specialist space of reactionary marketing on a large scale, as you navigate ever changing algorithms and competitive searches. They deal equally in scale and detail at the heart of their conversion potential. It’s worth starting to explore how you can elevate your ecommerce through bringing ecommerce and AI together.

Image Creation

If you’re working with an extensive product list with regular new releases, it can be time consuming and highly expensive to create. Luckily there are now some options in the AI space that can potentially reduce costs and save you some time. A good example of this is the Amazon AI Image Generator which can transform existing product photos into more contextualised and complete compositions. If you take a quick photo of a product in front of a plain background, it can generate a new background to your specifications, such as a Christmas themed kitchen or an aesthetic living room. It’s all about what translates best to your specific demographics.

In terms of how users search and find your products, AI can be used to help recognise products based on images, pulling up a list of similar products for customers to peruse. Say goodbye to endless scrolling and learn to 

Product Descriptions

A/B testing your product descriptions can take your ecommerce to the next level. But if you’re working with a huge product list, you often don’t have time to manually write every single description. You want to include detail; keywords, product specific metrics and unique selling points. 

Naturally this is almost impossible after your product list reaches a certain number, but AI can step in to help you out. There are plenty of free options to experiment with like, but for larger campaigns it’s worth paying for a premium service that can help out with hundreds and even thousands of product descriptions at once. There are various separate options like Decribely, but many sophisticated sales platforms have built-in options that instantly enhance their platform, like Shopify Magic.

Saving time - efficiencies 

The most immediately useful benefit of AI is its ability to save time. Tasks that can be completed slowly and manually by humans can be run thousands of times over, in seconds.

This is personalisation on a huge scale, in minutes. You can create variants of what you’ve already built, ready for analysis and evaluation before you A/B test your options. You could create one or two bespoke templates and generate thousands of ads in their likeness.This efficiency is useful for large product lists in Google Merchant Center or similar programs.

But let’s not lose sight of the most powerful asset of any marketer. Your skillset and experience in creating and running successful campaigns. These AI tools are fantastic collaborators, but they need your input and guidance every step of the way to make the most of your marketing opportunities. It’s useful for analysis and initial brainstorming, but make sure you’re equally involved in shaping your creations.

Google’s AI capabilities 

Google are embracing generative AI in a big way. They want to help users search and shop via generative AI.

This is currently only running in the US, but it’s set to roll out globally in the next few years. US users can now opt into SGE (the Search Generative Experience in Search Labs) to get generated text and image results from search queries. This is a more conversational style of search than the stereotypical Google search query. Users can ask follow up questions to refine their search further, as if they’re chatting to a shopping assistant.

For the first time ever, generative AI is now being used at Google during the festive season to help with gift suggestions, which will pop up automatically beneath search results.

This is a great example of how the future of technology is embracing AI for future shoppers. Google’s generative AI is already proving a success with younger audiences (18-24 year olds) in particular.

In summary

AI is far from taking over, but it’s clearly well established within marketing and ecommerce for a very good reason: it works. If you know how to use it well, have taken your time to consider how you work with it and how it can revolutionise your current workflow, you’re set to free up time in your schedule. 

The generative, analytical and intelligence capabilities of this emerging technology has the potential to save you time and budget, and increase your ROI and overall results of your campaigns. But this only works if you learn when is best to make use of AI for your specific business needs. 

That said, as the ecommerce and search industries pick up AI at speed, it’s worth understanding it. The future lies in this relationship between AI and human expertise. Make sure you’re part of the conversation.

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It starts with discovery

Speak to us today and let’s start growing your business.