Mark vs. Machine

Our Senior Writer contemplates the potential of AI-generated content. 

In today’s digital age, content creation has become an essential aspect of marketing. Whether you are running a blog, social media campaign, or website, having engaging and informative content is crucial to attracting and retaining your audience. But with the rise of generative AI, many companies are beginning to question whether hiring a marketing content writer is still necessary. In this blog post, we will explore the differences between a marketing content writer and generative AI and why you may still need a human touch in your content creation process.

Thanks, ChatGPT, I’ll take it from here. 

Yup! The introduction to this blog was written by AI. I asked the text generator to “Write a blog post about a marketing content writer vs. generative AI,” and out came 680 well organized words on the topic in just a few seconds. No coffee break, no health insurance, no contemplative walk in the woods.

A lot of organizations are indeed wondering how this technology will affect content marketing. Here at Unreal Digital Group, some clients are already seeking assurance that we won’t give them AI-generated content in return for their hard-earned marketing dollars. (We won’t!)

Still, as someone responsible for creating exactly this kind of content, should I be worried about the future of my career? Should I take offense that my digital friend (let’s call her Chatty) damns me with the faint praise that our clients “may still need” me? 

No, and yes, in that order. Don’t get me wrong. AI is an astounding achievement. After playing around with multiple generative language tools over the past few weeks, I can only bow to Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law: AI is indeed “indistinguishable from magic.” 

But alas, not the right kind of magic. I see three ways that humble scribes like me will be able to provide an edge to clients, even as AI inevitably gets smarter: 

  1. Originality
    Generative AI draws from billions of words culled from the Internet, which means – almost by definition – that the content it generates will be, well, average. Given that the entire point of marketing is to create attention, is that really what you want for your brand?

    I believe that content creators (any creators, really) should improve on what came before. This is particularly important when it comes to making your brand stand out in a crowd, rather than blend in. As AI improves, it’s my job to stay ahead of it. When the bar gets raised, I jump higher for our clients.

  2. Accuracy.
    Chatbots have been making some headlines lately with inaccurate responses. And they have an unexpected tendency to get belligerent when called out. AI accuracy will most certainly continue to improve, even dramatically. But that could have the effect of making any error harder to find – or worse, refute. Imagine what damage this could do to your brand!

    As a writer, can I guarantee 100% accuracy? No. But what I can guarantee is that I will make every effort to be accurate, weighing sources for trustworthiness and making clear, documented statements that reflect reality.

  3. Truthfulness. Worse than inaccuracy is the tendency for AI to make up information from whole cloth. It has even cooked up fake academic citations to back up its false statements. This could have an even more serious impact on brand reputation than honest mistakes. Again, AI will improve, but it’s unlikely we will ever be able to trust it as an unquestioned source of truth.

    I can’t imagine risking my reputation – or that of my agency or its clients – by resorting to dishonesty. Yes, there’s a lot of latitude in interpreting the truth, but the skillful use of language can easily distinguish between fact and opinion. I’m not sure AI will ever be capable of that.

None of this is to say that there isn’t a role for generative AI in marketing content creation. Out of both curiosity and professional obligation, I look forward to discovering how AI can make me more productive and honing skills like crafting prompts to get the best results.

Here are a few ways I can see AI helping me and my clients alike. And bear in mind that these don’t even include the really cool use cases around marketing automation, personalization and audience targeting! 

  • Summarization. How cool would it be to throw all the background material I have for a subject matter – documents, transcripts, charts and graphs – and have AI compile a list of informative bullet points? Pretty cool. Given my attempts so far, however, we’re not there yet. The results are vague, generic, and occasionally inaccurate.
  • Outlining. AI is actually pretty good at creating a logical outline of a topic that you can use to create a full long-form piece. Like its content-creation abilities, however, the results never seem to offer anything fresh or insightful.
  • Search engine optimization. SEO is a great opportunity for AI. The tools I’ve tried can help generate useful keywords and use them in a document. It does, however, require careful review and editing so that your prose doesn’t sound like low-quality clickbait.
  • Content creation. Nope! Doesn’t work. And not just for the reasons above. On Thomas Edison’s theory that “genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” I experimented with having a chatbot sweat out a  “first draft” of a piece of content that I could then quickly edit. However, it required more time and effort to bring it up to snuff than it was worth.

Make no mistake. Generative AI for marketing is here to stay. Nonetheless, at Unreal Digital Group we believe that human creativity will continue to have the upper hand for the foreseeable future. As Chatty points out in her conclusion, “While generative AI has many benefits for content creation, it’s important to remember that it’s not a replacement for human writers. Marketing content writers offer a level of creativity, nuance, and expertise that cannot be replicated by AI.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Or was she just buttering me up?