Bard, Google’s AI chatbot, has steadily been getting more useful after a lackluster introduction. Now, as noted by Android Authority, the bot’s YouTube integration is getting a handy upgrade so it can analyze individual videos to surface specific information for you — like key points or recipe ingredients — without ever pressing play. That’s potentially a hugely useful tool, but could spell more worry about generative AI for creators.
To try it out, I turned Bard on a YouTube video I regularly reference for spiritual guidance: America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for an Espresso Martini. Seriously, it’s really good. I often find myself in my kitchen with half the ingredients in a cocktail shaker trying to remember how much Benedictine I’m supposed to add, then re-watching the video to find out. But with Bard on the case, all I have to do is type a few prompts and viola — I have the full list of ingredients and some step-by-step instructions.
Bard got all of the critical bits right in summing up the video: the ingredients and measurements are all accurate, and the instructions are correct. It even includes the first step of chilling a martini glass by filling it with ice and water. The only thing that’s not quite on target is that it says you should shake the drink for 30 seconds — the video definitely doesn’t demonstrate or advise you to shake it that long. But overall? Yeah, job well done Bard.
Here’s the problem though. America’s Test Kitchen has already published the full recipe to its website — it’s just behind a paywall, like a lot of their content. The YouTube video doesn’t include the recipe in the video description. By watching the YouTube video every time I make the espresso martini, presumably there’s some value going back to ATK for that content. By having Bard spit out the recipe for me, I’ve just skipped the step where I press play, watch a preroll add, and see the channel’s other recommended videos at the end. That’s great for me, but probably less good for the publisher of the video.
At the moment, this feature only exists as an opt-in Labs experience, and it takes a little work to get to the answer you’re looking for. When I asked for the “full recipe” from the video, Bard wasn’t able to generate anything. But asking for “step by step instructions” on a subsequent prompt got me the whole recipe.
With that much friction, there’s probably no current danger to ATK’s YouTube strategy. But it’s not hard to imagine a future where this tool exists right inside of YouTube, and at that point, there’s a different conversation to be had about how the value of Bard scraping the content of a video can benefit creators — right now, the only clear benefit is to Google. It’s nothing new for generative AI, but it’s a question anyone in the industry — Google included — has yet to find an answer for. We’ve reached out to Google for clarification on this and will update this article with their response. Regardless, if it wants to keep YouTube creators happily churning out content for its platform, then Google will have to figure that one out eventually.
Update November 22nd 2:55PM ET: Added a note that we have reached out to Google to ask for a statement on the potential impact to YouTube creators.