Updated: Sep 8
Artificial intelligence (AI) has accelerated at light speed in recent years. It has won at a state fair, is being trialled in courts of law and has even assisted with writing academic papers - though not all academics approve. Some have even trialled how it could be used in peer review.
If you look at social media now, AI is everywhere. People are discussing AI's impact on creating marketing content. In particular, ChatGPT (was 3, now 4 is available) – an AI content generation platform – has been taking the internet by storm. We use Jasper sometimes for our own internal marketing to help brainstorm and inspire ideas. Sometimes the generated content is laughable but it sparks ideas, and will only improve as the tool learns what we like and don't like.
It isn't the only one, either. Platforms like you.com are revolutionizing the ways in which we search online. You.com is a particular favourite of our boss Lou who loves the summary with authoritative links to sources, beating Google's more 'traditional' search results. Google has released its own generative AI tool, Bard. Even Hubspot now has its own AI tool.
So, how are AI content creation tools affecting marketing and scholarly communications? Let's find out.
How AI affects us
Generally, the marketing industry is embracing AI and harnessing AI tools for content generation – also known as generative AI. Marketers are using AI tools for creating images, written content, simulations and more.
Marketers’ AI usage increased from 29% in 2018 to 84% in 2020 — a 55% jump, according to Salesforce. However, AI adoption slowed significantly from 2019 to 2021, before picking up again last year when AI adoption grew by nearly 250%, according to HubSpot.
Moreover, this number is expected to increase, with investments in generative AI tools exceeding $2 billion in 2022.
What is hindering AI adoption?
Digital Smiles also goes on to detail the top five things hindering AI adoption:
Limited AI skills, expertise or knowledge (34%)
Price is too high (29%)
Lack of tools or platforms to develop models (25%)
Projects being too complex or difficult to integrate and scale (24%)
Too much data complexity (24%).
What are the top 10 factors driving AI adoption?
Advancements in AI making it more accessible (43%)
The need to reduce costs and automate key processes (42%)
An increasing amount of AI embedded into standard business applications (37%)
Competitive pressure (31%)
Demands due to the COVID-19 pandemic (31%)
Pressure from consumers (25%)
Directives from leadership (23%)
Company culture (22%)
Labour or skills shortages (22%)
Environmental pressures (20%)
Using AI to write content is nothing new. There are numerous examples of companies using AI for a few years to write content, too. For instance, in 2016 the Washington Post used its artificial intelligence tool, Heliograf, to write its social media post coverage of the Rio Olympics. It was also found that CNET was using AI content tools without anyone noticing. It's just the volume of organizations now using tools that are much more accessible and sometimes free.
Media giant Buzzfeed also noted its intent to use ChatGPT for content creation in 2023, though it's worth pointing out that ChatGPT doesn't access the internet - only an archive from 2021. But then there are plenty of other tools out there writing articles for you with authoritative citations.
Of course, there's one major concern for some marketers. If AI tools can create content, where does that leave human marketers in charge of content creation? Are marketers going to be replaced by machines and AI? Will human marketing as we know it become a thing of the past?
Can AI really replace human marketing?
Marketers rest easy – it's unlikely that human beings will become completely redundant to content marketing. People sell to people, not companies to people - which is the same for machines to people. That human touch is fundamental for marketing to make an impact, and it's something that AI tools can't replicate. We're seeing content agencies thinning staff as their clients use AI tools to generate content and feel they don't need them. But you still need people to have ideas and generate quality content. It just means we can get more done than we did before, with better tools to help us. It's more about generating quality content through the noise and embracing AI - it is certainly here to stay and only going to get smarter.
At the recent CILIP Cymru Wales AGM, journalist John Naughton and AI library specialist Phil Bradley ran two really enlightening talks about AI. As Phil says, search for your problem and try a tool rather than looking for a named tool. There are 30-40 AI tools launched A DAY (!) so try one, if you don't like it, use another.
Make sure you keep updated with the latest technology in the industry, including AI. AI can revolutionize marketing, but marketers will need to quickly adapt and change or else risk being left behind.
AI can be a powerful asset to marketers when used correctly, with many benefits but also shortcomings.
Benefits of AI for content creation
According to a study by Orbit Media, people who publish content to their blogs between two and six times a week get much better results than people who post less frequently. Many marketers don't get the time to generate this much content in one week.
AI content creation tools are helpful since they can create content faster than humans. AI tools can write, research and develop ideas in minutes, whereas it may take a person hours to do. So if you want to increase the amount of content you are generating on a large scale, AI tools can help.
It can be used to inspire new content
There are AI tools designed to create articles, and content outlines for your next post. They can be incredibly beneficial for inspiration.
It may be useful for short-form content
Do you have some social media posts you need to generate this week? AI content tools can help generate short-form content like social media posts as well as generate metatags, product descriptions and more. This can allow you to reduce time spent on performing repetitive marketing tasks.
It can help you to personalize your marketing
79% of people are highly influenced in their purchasing decisions by user-generated content.
AI tools can help create user-generated content, as they have algorithms that enable them to curate data about consumers and create content in response.
It's beneficial for accessibility
As explored by the Chefs at The Scholarly Kitchen, AI can also be beneficial for accessibility. Things like speech recognition, computer vision, text alternatives, AI-generated captions and more can all help to make marketing more inclusive and accessible to our peers.
Disadvantages of AI-generated content
There can be concerns with quality
AI-generated content is based purely on algorithms and the data it mines from the internet. It’s capable of creating intriguing content, but it can also create content that has serious quality problems.
There are some ethical questions to consider when creating content with AI tools. For example, if an AI tool writes an academic submission, it cannot be claimed as an author’s work. Likewise, guidance from earlier this year states that AI should not be listed as an author for a paper as it is not capable of taking responsibility for what it writes, though it must be acknowledged for any contributions.
Content submission tools like Turnitin have addressed these concerns, updating software to detect AI-generated content. For marketers, if content is plagiarized, it can lose its credibility, which can have detrimental effects on how trustworthy your brand is perceived to be.
It lacks human creativity and connection
Machine learning is incredibly advanced, but it lacks the heart and creativity that human beings have. A person's ability to weave a story that resonates with an audience is something that AI doesn't possess. It's not capable of coming up with new ideas either – only building upon ideas already in existence.
It still requires human input
AI content creation tools can save marketers a lot of time, but make no mistake – they don't eradicate the need for human input. It's essential to proofread AI-generated content since language or image errors are sometimes present. Occasionally the AI tool may not understand the user's query and venture off into an unrelated topic.
Knowledge can be outdated
Some AI tools aren’t continuously updated to the latest knowledge. For instance, ChatGPT's data is limited to 2021. As a result, knowledge is limited, which may cause issues in your marketing if you're relying on recent trends.
Will AI change how you create content?
So, how will generative AI change your marketing? One thing is certain – AI and machine learning are impressive, but they won't replace humans any time soon.