ChatGPT, Custom GPTs, and The AI Chat Challengers: CoPilot, Gemini, Perplexity, and More

ChatGPT hit a new traffic milestone in the US in February, while Google Bard, now Gemini, gained unique visitors 

By David F. Carr, Senior Insights Manager

The market for AI powered websites and apps continues to reshape itself, with AI Chat platforms like Open AI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard) providing a springboard to mass-market acceptance and understanding of the technology. Image generators and other apps, such as Open AI’s Custom GPTs, are increasingly part of the package.

Web traffic doesn’t tell the complete story as companies like Open AI and Anthropic (maker of the Claude chatbot) may be as interested in licensing their technology to other companies as engaging directly with consumers. Still, web metrics and app engagement are a useful barometer of interest in AI tech.

Key takeaways 

  • With 1.6 billion visits in February, ChatGPT’s worldwide traffic has yet to match the level it hit in May 2023 – 1.8 billion visits, according to Similarweb estimates.
  • However, ChatGPT hit a new high in February with 208.8 million visits for traffic from within the US. That includes 10 million visits from people accessing Custom GPTs, which are only accessible to paying customers.
  • As Google rebranded its chatbot from Bard to Gemini, usage hit a new high of 51.7 million unique visitors. The traffic picture is harder to interpret as visits are redirected from to, but seems headed in the right direction.
  • Challengers like Perplexity and Claude are growing but are still relatively small, as measured by web traffic.

Challengers like Perplexity and Claude small by comparison

Including  Microsoft Bing, which is both a search engine and an AI Chat app, the pecking order among these platforms by web traffic worldwide looks like this:

As a search engine emphasizing AI features, Perplexity has been in the news for a new round of funding, reportedly driving its valuation to $1 billion. However, it’s still relatively low on the totem pole. 

After experiencing explosive growth in early 2023, ChatGPT has seen traffic ebb and flow from month to month since the summer. In February, worldwide traffic was up 62% year-over-year (YoY) but just 1% month-over-month (MoM).At 1.6 billion visits, it hasn’t quite gotten back to the peak it hit in May 2023, when it topped 1.8 billion visits.

However, for traffic from within the US, ChatGPT actually hit a new peak of 208.8 million visits, up 87% YoY  and 15% MoM.

The role of Custom GPTs

OpenAI has been working to add more excitement to ChatGPT with an app store-like model of Custom GPTs. Within the US, Custom GPTs drove more than 10 million visits to the ChatGPT website. That includes GPTs for integration with with OpenAI’s tools like DALL-E image generation as well as many third-party apps. Custom GPTs are only available to paid account holders, making this an important segment for OpenAI.

Google’s Bard becomes Gemini

Google Gemini recently took the place of Bard as Google’s lead brand for AI Chat, while Google continues to experiment with surfacing more AI features in core search.

The Bard-to-Gemini transition is not only  a rebranding, but also represents the introduction of a more sophisticated generation of AI tech. Google had to pull back an image generation feature of Gemini after it was roundly mocked for excessively “woke” multicultural representations of very white moments in history, like the signing of the US Declaration of Independence. The image generator is expected to return soon, after some adjustments are made.

Despite that, Gemini seems to have sparked new interest. The Gemini website attracted 51.7 million unique visitors in February, more than Bard ever received, according to Similarweb estimates.

Daily traffic to the Gemini website peaked at about 17.5 million visits on February 22, at about the time the image generator controversy was in the news, maybe partly because of people trying the tool to see whether the criticisms were fair. As of March 3, traffic was down to 13.2 million daily visits. The remaining visits represent people going to that address before being redirected.

CoPilot, Perplexity, and Claude

Meanwhile, Microsoft has been aggressively exploiting AI Chat features in Bing, while also beginning to promote as a distinct destination for accessing AI functionality. The CoPilot website is one piece of a much broader Microsoft strategy to incorporate CoPilot-branded AI features into Office, as well as tools for developers and designers.

As a standalone website, CoPilot is just starting to show up among the challengers farther down the pecking order like Perplexity and Anthropic’s Claude.

ChatGPT’s apps grew 5% from January to February

Microsoft’s AI seems to have successfully helped grow Bing’s mobile app active users. In February, US monthly active users for iOS and Android combined were up nearly 20% YoY (although down 8.6% from the previous month) to 13 million users. OpenAI hadn’t yet launched its ChatGPT app a year ago, but it reached 6.7 million users in February, a 5% increase from the previous month.

Usage of Character AI apps in the US was essentially unchanged at 3.1 million, while the new CoPilot app is just getting started, with a little over 1 million monthly active users in the US. Perplexity has about 266,000.

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Report By: David F. Carr, Senior Insights Manager

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