As news publishers increasingly embrace artificial intelligence to churn out content, a novel approach is emerging from tech outlets aiming to integrate generative AI into their websites. Foundry, a media/marketing company, has introduced an AI chatbot tool called Smart Answers across its platforms, including Macworld, PCWorld, Tech Advisor, and TechHive. Unlike typical AI-generated content, Smart Answers doesn’t produce standalone articles but instead assists readers by providing tech-related information derived from the sites’ existing articles and reviews.

The rationale behind Smart Answers is to cater to readers seeking specific facts or details amidst vast volumes of content. By leveraging the wealth of articles published on Foundry’s platforms, Smart Answers aims to offer concise and accurate responses to user queries, thereby enhancing the overall user experience. Neil Bennett, global director of product and data at Foundry, emphasizes the importance of providing readers with relevant information efficiently, without the need to sift through lengthy articles.

Despite its potential, Smart Answers is not immune to limitations. While it excels in retrieving information from recent articles, it may falter with queries requiring nuanced understanding or outdated content. Marie Black, editorial director at Foundry, acknowledges these challenges and underscores the company’s commitment to refining Smart Answers based on user feedback.

Beyond its role in information retrieval, Smart Answers also serves as a revenue-generating tool through affiliate marketing. By integrating buying options relevant to user searches, the tool seamlessly incorporates affiliate links, potentially leading to purchases and revenue generation for Foundry. This approach aligns with the broader trend of publishers adapting to changes in online search algorithms and prioritizing user engagement to mitigate losses in traffic and ad revenue.

However, Foundry emphasizes that Smart Answers is not intended to replace traditional journalism but rather complement it. Black emphasizes that journalists remain integral to the process, providing the foundational content that powers Smart Answers. Moreover, user queries and feedback can inform editorial decisions, helping prioritize topics that warrant further coverage.

In a landscape where AI-driven content generation has sparked controversy and resistance, Foundry’s approach with Smart Answers strikes a balance between leveraging technology for enhanced reader engagement and preserving the integrity of journalistic practices. As AI continues to shape the media landscape, initiatives like Smart Answers represent innovative solutions to evolving reader needs while reaffirming the indispensable role of human expertise in journalism.

By Impact Lab