Pulse is a Q&A series answered by and for our members that provides insights on the important content marketing issues of the day.
Unless you spent the holiday period meditating in a cave, you will have seen a plethora of articles and posts about how generative AI is going to disrupt a number of industries including marketing.
This is because generative AI technology has reached a tipping point in terms of the content it can produce. A recent article on the World Economic Forum’s website said, “In the wake of newly released models such as Stable Diffusion and ChatGPT, generative AI has become a ‘hot topic’ for technologists, investors, policymakers and for society at large.”
The article goes on to say, “Based on a new era of human-machine based cooperation, optimists claim that generative AI will aid the creative process of artists and designers, as existing tasks will be augmented by generative AI systems, speeding up the ideation and, essentially, the creation phase.”
With this in mind, we asked our members how generative AI will impact the content marketing industry. Is it a content marketing trend we need to understand? Or is it more hype than hope? Or will it disrupt the creative process as we know it?
Meet this month’s Pulse contributors
Robert Stevenson has over 15 years media experience within newsbrand publishing and artist management, and is Head of Business Strategy within the Innovation team at award-winning social creative agency THE FIFTH.
Kathryn Strachan is the CEO of CopyHouse, a leading content marketing agency for fast-growing technology brands.
Kathryn started her career agency-side before striking out on her own. She’s taken CopyHouse from ground zero to a £1.5 million turnover within three years, turning CopyHouse into a successful agency.
As well as managing CopyHouse, Kathryn is a respected Forbes contributor and industry speaker featuring at events like MoneyNext, Semrush, and more. She regularly speaks on topics like customer-centric content, technology marketing, and female entrepreneurship.
Brian is a girl dad, Brooklynite, a storyteller, world traveler, street-art collector, marketing disrupter, web3 technology evangelist and head of visual innovation at Pace. Brian is at his best when he’s executing creative ideas across a variety of platforms and technologies; he loves bringing ideas into existence.
Andy is a content and thought leadership manager, bringing to life stories that show how PwC brings together human ingenuity and the right technology to help clients solve their most important problems. With over 20 years’ experience in the industry, Andy started out as a music hack, became an award-winning B2B business and technology journalist, launched a global Chief Information Officer publication for a major tech brand, edited a rock climbing magazine and worked freelance and agency-side as a B2B content marketer for the technology sector.
1. Which parts of content marketing will generative AI add the most value or cause the most disruption to?
Brian Bowen, Vice President at Pace said, “Companies and creatives that resist embracing AI technology will fall behind. AI technology at this stage can increase output. Think of it like the jump from a typewriter to a laptop or from analogue to digital. Creatives and companies need to embrace the technology and use it to increase creative output and have fun doing it.”
Rob Stevenson, Head of Business Strategy at THE FIFTH said, “AI technology that learns how its users interact with it will be very useful. Outputs that incorporate the information needed and the preferred tone of voice, will be adopted by marketers. This is what makes ChatGPT so fascinating and addictive; it is, by design, built with the end user in mind.
“There are a raft of products like Jasper.ai which are, effectively, a layer (or a head) built on top of GPT3. Companies that take OpenAI data and layer their own tech on top will soon become mainstream.
“The GPT4 release, expected in the next few months, will be another leap forward. This technology is able to sophisticate rapidly.”Rob Stevenson
“Most AI tools are clunky for now but do have clear utility. Whether it’s helping write blog posts, product descriptions or helping ideate campaigns. Marketers using AI, are able to find a starting point, removing the dreaded ‘blank piece of paper’, and also help to refine their ideas. Of course, Generative AI should enhance human creativity and not be a substitute for it.
“The GPT4 release, expected in the next few months, will be another leap forward. This technology is able to sophisticate rapidly. I’m excited to see how it disrupts and democratises animation and video, although realistically, this is a few years away.”
Kathryn Strachan, CEO of CopyHouse said, “AI certainly has the potential to help content marketers speed up manual elements of the process like research, generating content topics and proofreading. We’re currently investigating using AI to create a proofreading app to catch errors that human copywriters may not.
“However, I think that AI risks devaluing our work, especially with brands that don’t understand marketing. For brands that don’t understand the value of content, they may see AI as a quick win or cost-effective solution. While it may be cheaper, AI won’t replicate human emotions or expertise so will struggle to create truly authentic thought-leadership content (after all it learns from the masses).
“I think that AI risks devaluing our work, especially with brands that don’t understand marketing.”Kathryn Strachan
“If you want generic, anyone can produce content, AI will provide. If you want something more closely aligned with your brand or that showcases in-depth expertise and a unique perspective, you’ll struggle to get the same results.
“I worry about brands being misguided, but cutting corners never produces top-notch results.”
Andy McCue, content and thought leadership manager at PwC said, “On the surface, the early examples of content created from ChatGPT are pretty impressive in terms of producing complete and coherent pieces of work. However, scratch beneath that and it’s clear it cannot replace the human ingenuity and creativity that is core to great content. Ask it to write a short post on a specific subject and its response may be ‘correct’ but it will also be pretty formulaic and uninspiring, lacking personality and depth.
“There may be more potential for this kind of technology as it improves to augment the creative process but the greater value of AI now is likely to be automating repetitive tasks. Tools such as ChatGPT could do some of the heavy lifting on time-consuming descriptive and objective content, such as product features and glossaries, or summarising long reports – freeing people up for activities where they can use their skills and experience to add more strategic and creative value.”
2. It’s clear that generative AI is here to stay and the technology will only improve, how should content marketers adapt to it moving forward?
Kathryn said, “I think it’s important to understand the technology, how it works and how it can be used for maximum impact. We need to have the knowledge and expertise to guide clients and shape their understanding of how it’s used in the marketing landscape.”
Rob said, “Content marketers should be aware of AI developments and be developing use cases now. There is an opportunity to be at the bleeding edge of a huge change while the technology is nascent.
“While we are talking about it – and it is a buzz in the industry – the reality is that a tiny percentage of the world knows about it, is using it, and an even smaller subset is building with it. Innovative marketers will research and test now so that future developments are iterative and not a shock.
“Learning how to write best in class prompts is a skill and will be highly sought after. Prompt Engineer is already a job! For inspiration, check out the Midjourney Discord, where you can see how the community writes prompts. There’s an interesting interplay between transparency and gate-keeping with regards to this technology.”
“While it’s not going to replace the role of content creators and marketers anytime in the near future, think about where the power of the technology combined with the experience and insight of marketing teams could start to improve the quality and production of content.”Andy McCue
Andy said, “Content marketers should certainly keep a watching brief on the technology. And the best way to do that is just get on it and try it out. Look at what other people are using it for and explore its potential and limitations.
And while it’s not going to replace the role of content creators and marketers anytime in the near future, think about where the power of the technology combined with the experience and insight of marketing teams could start to improve the quality and production of content.”
3. How do you think generative AI can help content marketers create more effective and compelling content?
Brian said, “Lean into the technology and have fun with it. Content marketers still need creative leads however, when this technology is embraced content marketing companies should be able to have writers and copywriters become more visual (using tools like Midjourney) and art directors to lean further into copywriting. This is an exciting time and content marketing companies need to use the tools because generative AI is here to stay.”
Kathryn said, “Yes, in a way. I think it can be used to explore ideas that may not have been considered or find new sources of research. However, I think, like all emerging technology, it has its limitations and I would caution against relying on it too heavily.”
“This is an exciting time and content marketing companies need to use the tools because generative AI is here to stay.”Brian Bowen
Andy said, “The technology is impressive but the assumptions that this can replace humans are some way off the mark. I think the bigger issue – and probably the biggest barrier – with generative AI for content marketers right now is the accuracy and credibility of the information it produces. There is no easy way to verify sources or check for plagiarism in the responses of generative AI technology. And it is unclear who owns the data and content generated. All of which pose a huge legal and reputational risk when content is so central to brand building.
“Without appropriate governance and oversight of third party AI, any false or inaccurate content generated could expose brands to regulatory penalties (for example, in relation to advertising standards) or legal action through copyright infringement or libel. Organisations and marketers will need to do more to understand these risks. This is why harnessing the power of ChatGPT and similar AI requires a human-led approach using the expertise and experience of content marketers to augment the creative process.”
Rob said, “The way you interact with ChatGPT, in an interactive ‘call-and-response’ manner, is more natural than existing search. The ability to communicate via chat enables users to stretch their line of questioning in a way that’s not always possible in a room of people.
“Creatives will be able to spin up ideas visually and cycle through them, discarding or taking them forward, in a more efficient way than ever before.
“I think we will also come to see coding, which was once seen as something too complex for marketers and solely the preserve of backroom specialists, as accessible.