Consumers believe that Google is leading the race in generative AI, according to the results of a study released by digital agency Critical Mass on Wednesday, despite the company botching the reveal of its AI chatbot Bard in February.
The online study, which surveyed 1,220 U.S. adults in February, found that people are much more likely to believe that Google is leading the race to build generative AI, followed by Microsoft and then Apple, despite reports that Bard underwhelmed early testers when compared to Bing’s AI capabilities.
During a demo launch for Bard in February, Google demonstrated an instance of the generative AI technology incorrectly answering a question, prompting parent company Alphabet to shed over $100 billion in market value.
The perception that Google is leading on AI is likely due to the brand’s recognition and equity in the tech sector, said Grant Owens, chief strategy officer at Critical Mass.
“It’s not surprising in the sense that we did a general population study across the U.S.,” he said. “Those major tech companies have built a couple of decades of equity and consumers believe that they’re the most advanced and innovative.”
The sheer size and popularity of Google search could also be skewing consumer perception. While Microsoft’s Bing hit over 100 million daily active users in early March, its user base is a drop in the bucket compared to the more than 1 billion daily active users of Google search. Bing has contributed to Microsoft’s ad business growing to $18 billion in revenue over the past year, but that pales in comparison to Google’s $200 billion in revenue over the same period.
Google’s dominance in technology skews consumer perspectives on its AI offering, but Microsoft can shrink the gap with a clear presentation of how AI can speed up daily searching on Bing in language consumers can understand.
Consumer perception about AI will continue to shift as people across generations adopt the tech. More than 80% of Millennial and Gen Z participants in the Critical Mass study said they are receptive to AI, as are nearly 70% of Boomer and Gen X respondents.
Generative AI in particular is easier for people to adopt, because its language models intuitive human conversation, Owens added.
“If you speak, you essentially have the ability to use the technology,” he said.
As marketers adopt AI more broadly, brands must be transparent about how they’re using it and give them more control over their daily interactions.
“We have to question whether or not we’re being transparent enough,” he said. “For years now we’ve been using machine learning and AI as a backbone for a lot of the interactions that we give consumers. A big conversation over the next couple of years will be just that.”