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Local Memo: Instagram to Add Generative AI Features


In this week’s post, learn about Instagram’s upcoming generative AI features; ChatGPT’s new prompt examples and file uploads; Google Merchant Center’s new rules forbidding AI-generated reviews; and a roundup of Google Business Profile updates. 


Instagram to Add Generative AI Features


Meta is reportedly working to launch six new generative AI features on the Instagram platform, as shared on X (formerly Twitter) by developer Alessandro Paluzzi. These include:


  • Message summaries that will provide a synopsis of DM conversations
  • AI-powered image editing in Stories to remove unwanted objects from photos
  • Customized AI stickers that “reflect your mood”
  • AI-generated comments in response to posts
  • AI chatbots, known as “agents,” who can interact with users and answer questions; users can choose from 30 available personalities
  • Labels that identify when content was created by AI


Meta noted on a recent earnings call that it expects AI tools to provide a boost to user engagement. 



ChatGPT Launches Prompt Examples, File Uploads


OpenAI has announced several new ChatGPT features that bring useful functionality to the tool. These include prompt examples to help users get started with a chat conversationn as well as suggested replies to help users continue a conversation. GPT-4 will now be the default model for Plus users. In addition, users employing the Code Interpreter plugin will now be able to upload multiple files for ChatGPT to analyze. Finally, users will stay logged in rather than being prompted to enter login credentials every two weeks; and a new set of keyboard shortcuts will make routine tasks more efficient.



New Google Merchant Center Policy Bans AI-Generated Reviews


Google has updated its product ratings policies in the Merchant Center help pages to indicate that reviews generated by AI are not allowed and will be considered spam. Specifically, the new policy states: “Automated Content: We don’t allow reviews that are primarily generated by an automated program or artificial intelligence application. If you have identified such content, it should be marked as spam in your feed using the <is_spam> attribute.” The new documentation states that action may be taken on reviews that violate Google’s policies, including “disapproving violating content or a violating review, as well as issuing warnings or suspending accounts for repeated or egregious violations.” Google has been relatively lenient in its approach to AI-generated content on web pages, but the company appears to be drawing the line when it comes to AI-generated reviews. 


A Roundup of Google Business Profile Updates


1. Reorganized Help Pages


Google has reorganized its help pages for Google Business Profiles and has published  a new overview page with links that make it easier to access needed help content. As outlined by Krystal Taing in a LocalU post, the new documentation helps businesses understand the importance of setting appropriate hours of operation, including holiday hours and special hours for services like the drive-through window. Google also advises special business types, like movie theaters and hotels, not to advertise their hours since most of their services are by appointment or in operation around the clock. 


2. AI-Powered Business Descriptions


Google is testing generative AI in Google Business Profiles to help business owners compose content for the business description field. This was first noticed by Will Scott, whose firm Search Influence is shown in the example below. Barry Schwartz shares a help document from Google that describes the new feature and notes that AI descriptions are “currently available for select regions and languages and may not be available for all users.” The document recommends that businesses fill out all relevant profile information to help the tool generate relevant description content. In related news, Google also began rolling out an automated FAQ feature in July that creates questions and answers from the content in business profiles and the business website, including information on opening hours, appointments, contact details, location, payments, and deliveries. 



An example of an AI powered business description


Courtesy Will Scott / Search Engine Roundtable


3. New “View as Customer” Link


A new “View as customer” link is rolling out to Google Business Profile users, allowing them to switch to a customer view for their business listings while remaining logged in. This was first reported by Ben Fisher.


An image showcasing the "View as customer" on a Google Business Profile


Courtesy Ben Fisher / Search Engine Roundtable


4. No More Services in Product Lists


Though it has been a longstanding recommendation from local SEOs for service-oriented businesses to make use of the Products feature in GBP to list their available services, Google is apparently now cracking down on this practice, removing services from product lists for some businesses with the flag “Not Approved.” An accompanying notice reads, “Unsupported shopping content (Services): Content that promotes services (e.g. labor, time, effort, expertise, or actions), which do not result in ownership of a tangible product. This includes any services sold bundled with physical good.” 


5. Updated Food Ordering


Google has added some useful features to the Food Ordering section of Google Business Profiles for restaurants and other relevant businesses. The changes were first noticed by Claudia Tomina. Users can now set any third party provider, such as GrubHub, as the preferred service for pickup or delivery, and can configure whether that provider’s menu is viewable. More significantly, businesses can now request that specified providers be removed from their business profiles. Previously, Google required that restaurants work directly with the service provider to have their services removed. 



An example of GrubHub's updated food ordering on GBP



Courtesy Claudia Tomina / Search Engine Roundtable

Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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