In recent months, Microsoft has launched a new search interface called “Instant Answers” that can serve up key information from online articles with no need to click through them. By returning results from inside the article itself, this technology could drastically change how consumers access the internet — and, potentially, how media organizations drive revenue.
Instant Answers uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology to quickly scan the world of online content, gathering the most pertinent and relevant pieces of information from within articles. The interface is designed to make the process of searching and finding information quicker and easier — rather than clicking through multiple websites to find information, users can now receive a snippet of the article directly in their search results, eliminating the need to ever read the actual article.
Depending on how widely adopted this technology is, the media industry could stand to be fundamentally changed. Many media organizations rely heavily on web traffic to fund the stories they report. If a significant amount of news consumers are able to access only the key items they are searching for and do not have to click through to the sources that originally published their pieces, a decline in page views and revenue could ensue.
While some may see this Microsoft technology as a potential death-knell for the already troubled media industry, there is a chance that news organizations may also be able to benefit from this new search interface. Through Instant Answers, Microsoft may be able to connect users to publishers, leading to increased exposure and potential markets for the organizations who are making their content available.
Ultimately, the introduction of Instant Answers is an intriguing move by Microsoft, one that could potentially have major ramifications on the way people access online content — and the way that the media industry gets paid for their reporting. Stay tuned to see how these changes will unfold.