Perplexity planning revenue sharing program with web publishers next month

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AI chatbot Perplexity will begin a revenue-sharing program with web publishers next month, the company announced during VB Transform Thursday.

Dmitry Shevelenko, chief business officer at Perplexity, said the program will stem from advertising the company plans to run alongside search queries on the Perplexity platform. 

“It’s the first of its kind revenue share program where if they are contributing a source input for an answer, and we’re monetizing that answer with advertising, we’re going share that revenue with those publishers that contributed to that,” Shevelenko said onstage. 

He added that revenue sharing will be based on links and results throughout Perplexity, not just its paid Perplexity Pro offering, but also from any links and ads run on the free Perplexity option. Partners will get a percentage of revenue from every ad run against a result, and if a link from a partner’s website is cited, they are entitled to that cash. 

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Perplexity first talked about running ads against question-and-answer results in April. Shevelenko told VentureBeat that advertising on the platform would begin “in the next quarter.” 

Shevelenko said the revenue-sharing program will launch “with some incredible top-tier publishers” and will not be limited to media organizations, but will be open to people with WordPress or newsletters. The company did not provide other information about the planned revenue-sharing program or who the first publishing partners will be. 

Perplexity has faced criticism

The chatbot has made search the basis of its product offering and has even brought in a growing number of traffic referrals. The company raised a $63 million round in April, bringing its valuation to more than a billion dollars and reaching unicorn status. Since its launch, Perplexity has expanded its features, including a publishing capability that lets users make a webpage generated from web search-based information called Pages. 

But lately, Perplexity found itself in hot water after Forbes sued the company for alleged copyright infringement and has been called out for ignoring opt-outs in Wired magazine’s robot.txt. Nieman Labs reported that chatbots like Perplexity and OpenAI’s ChatGPT are prone to hallucinating links to information or news stories they surface on their platforms. 

Shevelenko shrugged off the criticisms, saying that the reporting on infringement “is inaccurate” and doubled down on the fact that Perplexity has been putting source links on answers from the very beginning. Shevenlenko said the company has been working on the revenue-sharing program even before criticisms that the platform willfully ignored opt-outs were reported. 

“These issues of aggregation and sourcing and citing, all this predates AI and goes back to the very first book publishers in the 17th century,” said Shevelenko. “AI doesn’t fundamentally change some of the core dynamics here. One important difference is that Perplexity doesn’t train our own foundation model, and we’re not in the business of scraping up the internet and using that to train the reasoning of a foundation model.”

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