Does the rise of generative AI spell the end of B2B content marketing as we know it? Discover the good, the bad and the ugly of this new phenomenon and how you can prepare for the inevitable shift.
Generative AI (artificial intelligence) has taken centre stage in recent times. From ChatGPT to Google Bard, we can’t seem to go a week without seeing a new development making the headlines.
For B2B marketers, it brings new pressures. The landscape is changing, and we’re facing an age of uncertainty. Suddenly, we’re having to ask ourselves:
- Do we adapt and adopt?
- What are the ramifications of using generative AI?
- How does this change the dynamic of our team?
One thing is for sure is that there are several moving parts we need to consider. So much so, that the answers to these questions will gradually unfold before our eyes over the coming months and years.
But for now, here’s a current overview of generative AI and content marketing taken from Chris Stokel-Walker’s talk at our recent B2B Content Marketing Summit, and what it means in the world of content marketing.
What is generative AI?
“We are at a moment in the development of AI that will have profound ramifications on our lives”.Chris Stokel-Walker
To define generative AI, it seemed only logical to use the technology in question.
In the words of ChatGPT, “Generative AI refers to artificial intelligence techniques that can generate new content, such as text, images, videos, and music, without explicit human input. It utilises machine learning models, such as Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Variational Autoencoders (VAEs), to create original and realistic outputs based on patterns and examples it has learned from training data.”
Since the phrase, “artificial intelligence” was first coined by top researchers involved in the Dartmouth Summer Project, a lot has changed.
In 1997, the first real breakthrough in AI arrived when Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov in a game. It showed subject matter expertise and its potential for humans to teach it about specific topics.
But it wasn’t until ChatGPT’s arrival in November 2022 that the generative AI movement really started to take shape.
Although AI has been the subject of discussion for well over a decade now, generative AI platforms, which seemingly diminish the reliance on human-generated creative content and design, have flipped the B2B content marketing dynamic on its head.
Generative AI is helping content marketers:
- Create content – Including social media captions, blog articles, product descriptions and short stories.
- Personalise content – Generative AI analyses user data and preferences to create custom recommendations, product descriptions and targeted advertisements.
- Optimise content – AI-powered tools analyse vast amounts of data including user behaviour, content performance and market trends, which can enable marketers to optimise content.
- Automate processes – Generative AI can automate repetitive tasks in content marketing, such as translation, video editing and content summaries.
Research believes up to 49% of workers could have half or more of their tasks exposed to LLMs (large language models like ChatGPT).
The same report revealed the probability of risk facing several key professions in content marketing:
- Poets, lyricists and creative writers – 68.8%
- Public relations specialists – 80.6%
- Graphic designers – 13.4%
- News analysts, reporters and journalists – 100%
So, is this “sayonara” to B2B content marketing as we know it? Not exactly.
The disadvantages of generative AI
We need to take the developments of generative AI with a pinch of salt. The favourable statistics we see are often from a source of bias. For instance, the statistics above are taken from a paper funded by OpenAI.
It also overlooks the fact that there are many ways to adapt to the arrival of generative AI and to show the possibility of co-existing.
Before getting carried away and deeming AI as the best thing since sliced bread in B2B content marketing, we must consider the existing disadvantages:
AI does not “think” with its “brain”
When we don’t understand things, we try to humanise them. Most of us are trying to do this with generative AI right now. But AI doesn’t think or have a brain. It’s a by-product of human creation.
AI comes at a cost
Generative AI tools aren’t free. They come at a price. Its training has significant environmental impacts. In fact, the MIT Technology Review stated that training just one AI model can emit more than 626,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent. That’s nearly five times the lifetime emissions of an average car in America.
Generative AI tools are only as good as their training data and are often regenerative. It builds on prior knowledge and can create a patchwork of previous works.
It will usually repeat parts of what has gone before, raising issues of plagiarism. And on other occasions, it will attempt to fill in the gaps by producing new elements that you’ve never seen before, which brings the level of accuracy into question.
AI is mimicking others. It isn’t here to create wholly new things. Instead, it borrows and augments. Chris Stokel-Walker says, “To think of it like a collage of prior work rather than generating anew”.
Where to start with generative AI
Nevertheless, there is still some value in using generative AI – or bracing yourself for the change.
“Everything will be touched by AI. That’s why it’s important to understand it.”Chris Stokel-Walker – Stokel
Right now, generative AI is the equivalent of a first draft. It has a long way to go to become the be-all and end-all in the creative space.
But it’s an inevitable development which agencies and businesses in the B2B realm need to embrace in some shape or form. Chris Stokel-Walker suggested four ways we can best use generative AI right now:
The sounding board
As humans, we can’t always develop brilliant ideas. Maybe you’ve got a rough concept but aren’t sure whether it works. Generative AI can act as a virtual colleague, enabling you to bounce ideas to see if it sticks.
Reduce manual labour
There are many admin-based jobs that agencies and businesses could streamline. For instance, writing monthly reports, calculating data, writing boilerplate rough copy and producing presentations. Can you outsource some of these jobs to allow you to do other more creative tasks or client-facing jobs?
Spark new ideas
We face challenges every day and will often take these issues home with us. But instead of chewing your partner’s ear off, can you use generative AI to help you find solutions and spark ideas?
Create mood boards and use them as a foundation of research to form initial ideas.
The water cooler colleague
Putting our ideas out there to our colleagues or the world can feel rather daunting. Generative AI can act as the water cooler colleague you confide in.
You take a moment to decompress and discuss the potential of your ideas without feeling like you’re being judged or criticised. There’s clarity in the AI process, even if it’s not a real living thing.
“For many, it will mean a significant rethink of their organisational structure and talent strategies placing emphasis on strategic counsel and breakthrough creative thinking, the areas which clients – and boardrooms – will feel the most benefit from.”Gareth Davies – CEO of Leagas Delaney
Like it or loathe it, the potential of generative AI is enormous. But it’s also vital to remember that it’s in its infancy stage. The world is still figuring out the best cases and how we can use its disruptive nature as a force for good.
The legalities, environmental impact and lack of originality pose major challenges, which will inevitably slow its evolution and development ever so slightly.
In the meantime, it’s a case of keeping calm and carrying on but being mindful of the possibility of co-existing from a creative and organisational standpoint.
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