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Consumer trust and ad potential in conversational search

June 18, 2024
Four people in a classroom looking surprised at a laptop.

Consumer interest in generative AI and exploring the many use cases for this emerging technology is increasing. Microsoft Advertising and Publicis Media collaborated on a custom research study to better understand how consumers are experimenting with generative AI platforms, the barriers and opportunities around adoption, and attitudes and opportunities for advertisers around AI-powered conversational search.

Consumers are still in the early stages of generative AI adoption, with just 15% using generative AI extensively. ChatGPT is, not surprisingly, a “gateway” to AI experimentation with both more users and more experimental users than other generative AI platforms.

Building consumer trust in generative AI and chat results

It is well known that trust is an imperative. A product or offering will not gain traction in the market without a baseline of trust that the offering can deliver. Fortunately, the majority of consumers maintain a moderate level of trust in both AI platforms (59%) and the results that they receive (54%).

We believe that increased usage of these platforms will lead to increased trust. Based on our study, 74% of daily users on generative AI platforms have high trust both in the technology and in results, while experimenters have the lowest levels of trust in both. Consumers plan to use these tools more in the next 6 months, with over 50% saying they will use them more and under 10% saying they will use them less. As consumers shift from experimentation to more regular usage, increases in trust should follow.

Bar graphic displaying overall trust generative AI and trust in generative AI is percentages.

Conversational search adds value

Consumers are already very positive about the opportunities for conversational search to serve as a welcome complement to traditional search methods. Four in ten (41%) of the consumers in our study believe that conversational search is more accurate than traditional search, with another 35% agreeing that conversational and traditional search are equal, and just 24% who believe that traditional search is more accurate.

Eight in ten consumers agree that conversational search is a complement to traditional search, and seven in ten agree that they enjoy the conversational nature of search, and that they can find information both faster and more easily than with traditional search methods.

Perception of AI chat top two box chart.

Ad receptivity for conversational search is high

Advertising opportunities in conversational search are still nascent, but 33% of the consumers in our study have noticed ads in their chat results. Among this group, reception to advertising is positive, with 46% saying that the ads improved their search results, while another 30% reported that the advertisements did not have an impact on their experience.

In another positive for brands in conversational search, the appearance of ads in search results did not have a negative impact on either brands or the perception of bias in search results. Just 11% of consumers said that ads in the search results would lead to lower trust in the brand, and 16% in the chat results while nearly twice as many consumers reported that the presence of ads led to higher trust in the advertised brands (26%) and in the chat results (27%).

Conversational Search ads impact on trust bar graphic.

Key takeaways

  • Adoption of generative AI and conversational search are growing, and increased usage will lead to higher trust in both AI platforms and search results
  • Conversational search is seen as a welcome complement to traditional search, allowing consumers to complete tasks faster and more easily
  • Ads are welcomed in conversational search, and the appearance of ads does not have a negative impact on either the advertised brand or in trust of the search results

Our recommendations to advertisers

  • Experiment now – consumers are in the early stages of experimenting with generative AI platforms and conversational search, but usage and trust are growing. Advertisers must also begin to experiment with engaging consumers on these platforms.
  • Advertise for AI search – as consumers shift behavior and adopt conversational search, paid search strategies will need to adapt.
  • Reach out to your Microsoft Ads and Publicis Media account teams to begin exploring conversational search strategies.
  • Watch this space for future research from Microsoft Advertising and Publicis Media exploring conversational search use cases in key categories and how advertisers can align their search strategy to changing consumer needs, to be released later this year.


  • Kelli Kemery


    Kelli Kemery
  • Ted A’Zary


    Ted A’Zary

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