AI Search and the future of content creation

The recent announcements of GTP-4o by OpenAI and the AI updates from the Google IO keynote made me want to revisit the topic of how AI search will affect the future content creation. I’ve already touched on this here, but I think it’s worth revisiting the impact of AI search.

The view from the top

I’ve seen a few places talking about the Gartner post predicting a 25% reduction in search engine volume by 2026. This specifically relates to chatbots and virtual agents, but I think this figure could be higher if we separate AI search from traditional search.

Google have been experimenting with Gemini and search results for some time, hoping to offer a better search experience. According to the keynote, that service will become generally available soon. ChatGPT can already be considered a replacement for traditional search. Instead of doing a search and getting links, you just get an answer, which is after all what you are looking for.

Here lies the problem. If AI search presents answers directly, rather than referring you to the source websites, that represents a drop in traffic on the source websites. If there is indeed a 25% drop in traditional search by 2026, that will result in a drop of 25% in revenue for many online content creators.

Why is this a problem?

Professionally produced content will definitely be affected by a 25% reduction in traffic. Those content creators rely on traffic to their sites for their ad revenue. Without this, they can’t pay their workers. I don’t think many companies or people would be happy about a 25% cut from in their earnings.

The money from online advertisements has already fallen drastically over the last few years. Speaking from personal experience, for the same volume of traffic I’ve already seen ad revenue drop to about a quarter of what is was a few years back. Assuming that is true for professional content creators who rely on this income, they have already been hit hard, and now are likely to get hit again.

Even for those that don’t make money from publishing content, having a drop of 25% in their readership can be a demotivating factor.

So what?

So some people lose money. So what?

Well, AI typically relies on original source material to provide the information in the first place. If content creators give up, where is that new source content coming from? An endless recycling of AI generated content? That seems like a race to the bottom to me.

I spend a lot of time on YouTube and in recent months I’ve noticed the rise of AI generated content. I click on a video that looks interesting, only to find what sounds like an AI generated script being read by a very generic voice. Lots of words that sound related to the topic, but ultimately nothing of substance, leaving you with the feeling that you just wasted your time. I could easily see this happening to online publishing in general. The signal to noise ratio is likely to get really bad.

And another thing

I’ve focussed mostly on text publishing, as I’m mostly about articles and blog posts. Clearly there are other areas that are going to be massively affected by this.

  • Images : Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will already know about the complaints by people claiming AI image generation has stolen their material or art style. For companies that sell images online, AI image generation means game over for their business.
  • B-roll : When you watch videos on YouTube, you will notice many channels making use of b-roll footage. High quality clips inserted into their video to give it a more professional feel. Companies make money selling b-roll clips. That business will pretty much end overnight once the latest video generation is widely available. Why buy b-roll footage, when you can generate it for free?


Initially I see this as a win for the consumer, as we will be able to get access to information, images and video clips much more easily than we can currently. My concern is the initial progress may be followed by a gradual decline in quality to the point where everything becomes soulless dirge.