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?

Conclusion

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.

Cheers

Tim…

Chasing an Audience

I’ve touched on this subject in my writing tips and public speaking tips, but I wanted to elaborate a little, so here goes…

If you are creating content, at some level you want people to see that content. I always say I write for myself, and I do, because I have a terrible memory and I like to be able to reconnect with a subject. The best way I know how to do that is to take notes that I can refer back to later. Having said that, 22 years ago I made the choice to make my notes available on the internet, and so some part of me wanted people to read them. If not, I would have password protected them…

So what do you create content about?

This is where we get on to the subject of chasing an audience. I always say you should write about what is important to you. I think that’s the only way you can sustain any level of output for a prolonged period of time. Over the last 22 years I’ve seen many people come and go. Many! If you happen to be producing content that has mass appeal, you may well get a lot of readers and followers. If you are producing content on a niche topic, the likelihood is your base of followers will be smaller. I figure that should be obvious. Either way, you should do what you care about.

Are you pleasing your audience?

Even when you have built up an audience, not everything you produce will resonate with them. My website is predominantly known for Oracle DBA, SQL and PL/SQL articles, but in my day job I’m an allrounder. I have articles on the website about a range of things including general Linux topics, Terraform, Ansible and Containers. Invariably anything I produce that is not about core Oracle technologies performs really badly in terms of hits/views. A good example of that is my recent run of 10 videos about Ansible (YouTube playlist). From a views perspective is was a disaster. 🙂 I can’t lie and say that’s not a bit disappointing, but if I’m honest I knew it wouldn’t go well. It’s not what I’m known for, and it’s not a subject a lot of my core audience care about that much.

The important point is I wanted to make those videos, so from that perspective I achieved what I set out to do. Was it good for my core audience? No. Do I care? No. 🙂

I think you have to cut yourself some slack and understand not everything you produce will strike a chord. That’s fine. Don’t sweat it…

Does your audience span multiple platforms?

When I started my YouTube channel I figured I would get loads of subscribers and views because my website was so popular. I very quickly found out that was not the case. Most of my core audience don’t really care about watching videos on Oracle topics. Sure there is some crossover, but not that much. If I compare the stats for an article and a video on the same subject, the article out-performs the video by several orders of magnitude. I’ve pretty much had to build my YouTube following from scratch.

If you are producing content on multiple platforms, don’t stress about this. You will always have some platforms that work better for your content than others. If you enjoy pushing content to multiple platforms, do it. If not, stick with the ones you are happiest with, even if they aren’t the best performing…

Controversy sells, but…

I’ve said this numerous times before. If I blow my stack in a blog post, or on Twitter, it’s easy to get a lot of attention. On several occasions I’ve written negative posts about Oracle and had people reach out to me from the press for a quote. They love that “Oracle fanboy attacks Oracle” angle. Controversy sells, but the attention from controversy is fleeting. You’ve either got to keep doubling down on things and getting more extreme, or you will lose that attention.

Personally I think it’s important for the message to remain positive. I made a decision many years ago that I would try to keep my main website free from opinions, but allow myself some more latitude on the blog. I often say the website is for facts. The blog is for bullshit. 🙂

I do throw in some clickbait, like “The Death of the DBA” type articles, from time to time, but that’s because I think people are sleeping on a subject and I want to give them a kick. I don’t want people to wake up one morning and realise they’ve been left behind. So I could argue this type of “negativity” is done for a positive reason…

It’s not for me to tell you what you should write about, but I think you need to consider if you are looking for a viral moment, or something more sustained. I don’t think controversy is sustainable.

What about professional content creators?

If your job is being a content creator, you are going to have a lot more invested in pleasing an audience. If nobody is reading or watching your stuff, you aren’t going to get paid. You’ve got to look for subjects that pay the bills. I understand that, and this post is not really directed at you. 🙂

Conclusion

Some people may join in for the ride. Some people won’t be interested. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter. You do you! 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Quick note about publishing…

Howard Rogers has been very vocal on a few of points recently. I would link to his blog entries on the subject, but he’s thrown his toys out of the pram and blocked his blog for the time being.

The blog tag game. I love it. I like reading stupid stuff about people and I’m really glad Jake started it. It’s nice to see that we don’t all take life too seriously. I would hate to think that one person making a mountain out of a mole hill would stop people from trying new (for this community) things.

None of these blog posts are unsolicited. These blog posts are not being forced on anyone. If people don’t want to read them they can just switch off. I don’t remember ever asking for my blog to be included in one of the many aggregator sites, so I’m not going to apologize about writing lots of off-topic blogs. If you don’t like it, don’t subscribe.

Alternatively, just subscribe to the Oracle catagory of my blog, which probably will be on-topic:

https://oracle-base.com/blog/category/oracle/feed

Crediting other people. I would like to take this opportunity to say something about crediting the work of others. I got some grief from Howard because I did not reference his article, or give him any sort of credit in my article on rlwrap. There is a single very big reason for this. I didn’t know his article existed and I hadn’t read it when I wrote the piece. I Googled the term “rlwrap”, clicked on the first link returned, downloaded the utility, installed it as was obvious from the “./configure” output, and used it. Simple as that. It’s not exactly rocket science so I didn’t bother to search the net for other examples of how to do it. As a result I have no reason to credit him in this article.

If I had read his or anyone else’s article on this subject, I probably wouldn’t have written it in the first place, but I would certainly have credited them if I had.

You are not duty bound to search the net looking for similar articles and give credit where credit is not due. It’s good to credit people if their work has helped your understanding while writing your article. It’s important to credit people if you are quoting directly from them. It is illegal to republish information without permission.

Conclusion. Have fun with your blogs. That’s what the internet is all about. Write what you want to write. Don’t worry if someone has already done something similar. As long as you are not stealing it’s no big deal. Most of the articles the Oracle community write, including Howard’s, are variations on a theme, so to claim some form of ownership of the subject is wrong. Different people like different viewpoints and writing styles. There’s room for us all.

A request. Please don’t use the comments for this post for “me-too” posts. It’s only my opinion and it’s no more or less valid than anyone else’s. I’m not looking for support or validation because I’m secure enough in my self to not need it. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…