The AI Writing Scare of 2019 & What it Means for Content
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In late July, Chase Bank announced a long-term partnership with AI company Persado to overhaul its marketing creative. This caused a big stir in online communities among marketers – particularly content creators. The reason for this announcement was that Chase had conducted a series of trials and found that machine-generated calls to action (CTA) performed better than human-written ones.
I'm not surprised writers and marketers were freaked out by this – no one wants to lose their job to technology. And it sounds like Chase is saying machines are better than humans at being creative, at least when it comes to inspiring clicks for financial products.
I think people have thought for a long time that creatives is something that’s safe from AI, but obviously, that’s not the case anymore. And if AI can produce higher results – in this case, more clicks – of marketing copy to Chase’s website, well then business will definitely start to go in that direction.
I think it's great. Before you start composing an angry comment or email, hear me out.
Why AI is Good for Writers
AI writing programs let content developers input a specific standardized set of data, and then you can easily build content based on that data. Yahoo is already using similar technology to decide which news stories to include on its home page.
AI writing, also called "enhanced content" or "augmented writing" platforms can use standardized data coming in from press releases and stock reports. This technology empowers marketers to create content from complex data, without the time and energy it would normally take to distill a large volume of numbers.
I think that these platforms remove the research burden from writers, and decrease the opportunity for errors in reporting data. It will then let writers focus on customizing stories to a specific audience.
Why AI is Good for SEO
Content is crucial for SEO. If you look at it from the perspective of an enterprise company, the task of creating content for half a million pages is huge. In many cases it's cost-prohibitive for companies to hire humans to do this. I think AI will be especially helpful in updating and maintaining meta descriptions. A large company can have millions of these, and the process of updating them is tedious – imagine going through a million fields of your CMS to update just a few keywords.
There is a huge benefit in automating that, both for companies' bottom lines, and for the success of an SEO strategy. With AI, we will be able to generate readable, varied content that search engines can easily annex and use to help customers find your website.
Yes, There Are Cons
I am not some cold-hearted SEO robot. Yes, I do see a negative to this in that there will be less work for writers. Something to keep in mind is that as this technology is emerging, it's likely that only the biggest companies will be able to afford to use it. There will still be work for writers downstream.
According to AdAge, Chase says its partnership with Persado won't impact Chase's structure. I assume that means they aren't laying off marketing staff because of this shift. But the language is a little vague. It's possible they have been working with freelance writers. If Chase simply stops hiring freelancers, people are losing work but it wouldn't necessarily be considered a change in Chase's structure.
According to Persado's website, this partnership with Chase means their tech will be integrated across "the enterprise." So this could have an effect on departments beyond marketing, including regulatory, recruiting and human resources.
The Human Touch
At then of the day there should still be a human double-checking anything a machine writes. I don't think writers will go away, but their responsibilities may shift. AI can't review data points that aren't structured, so we will still need people who can review and evaluate subjective results, like customer reviews.
One of the reasons machines are good at creative is that they don't have a bias. Of course, sometimes it is good to have a bias and for that, we need humans reviewing and publishing any content created by AI systems.
What do you think about augmented writing platforms? Is it a good thing, or a sign of the impending robot takeover? Let me know what you think in the comments!