To AI or not to AI? That is the question

The office has been abuzz with talks on the future of AI-generated content ever since Chat GPT was launched on 30 November 2022 and for very good reason. By 4 December, the chatbot already had over 1 million users, and current stats sit at 30 million users worldwide and an impressive 5 million visits per day.

Critics were quick to launch an online offensive in which ChatGPT represents the onslaught of a ‘dumbed-down’ population handing their intelligence (and jobs) on a silver platter to the bots. While few others quickly saw the time and cost-saving benefits, this technology can offer an overworked and stressed workforce.

One thing is clear: Chat GPT is a global phenomenon, and unless you’ve been living under a WiFi-free rock, you would have either used it yourself, read AI-generated content or know someone that has a firm opinion about it. At Marketing Your Brand, we’ve decided to go down the rabbit hole of what AI-generated content means for our industry by looking at the benefits, drawbacks and opinions of vocal proponents and those vehemently against this technology.

 

ChatGPT & Marketing:

A well-known marketing adage goes a little like this: “Fast, Cheap, and Good…pick two. If it’s fast and cheap, it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap.” We often have to educate small business owners who may or may not know the intricacies of marketing – great work takes time and money. If they’re prepared to sacrifice exceptional results for a cheap and quick turnaround, the onus is on them. All professionals, from copywriters to graphic designers to brand strategists and web developers, understand that good work is never fast or cheap. This is why it’s not surprising that ChatGPT has enjoyed a stratospheric rise in popularity and usage; people are convinced that it can solve the pick-two dilemma. But is it possible to generate fast, cheap work (it’s free, BTW) AND good?

 

AI content is Generic & tone-deaf

It’s no secret that content generated by ChatGPT is generic. It has been programmed to follow specific patterns and formulas and, as a result, lacks creativity and originality. Researchers, academics and professional linguists are quick to point out just how easy it is to detect when AI writes something. They argue that without original thought and a human understanding of syntax and sentence structure, it’s impossible to generate relatable content that displays a unique voice, tone and emotional connection that we often enjoy in well-written copy. In his article for The Atlantic, “ChatGPT Is Dumber Than You Think”, writer Ian Bogost argues that the bot’s ability to be fluent and persuasive as text is impressive to some degree. However, it is also consistently dull, uninteresting and formulaic in structure, style and content.

 

“Perhaps ChatGPT and the technologies that underlie it are less about persuasive writing and more about superb bullshitting” – Ian Bogost

 

One commenter on social media slated Jasper AI’s automated copywriting tool with an eloquent and timely statement: “AI-generated work is going to be additional noise in an intellectually dishonest world.”

chat GPT text on computer screen

 

When we asked ChatGPT what it thought its limitations were, the answers were enough to make you sit and ponder. We’ve input a simple question with little to no direction. Yet, the responses it comes back with show a level of interpretation and reflection that’s enough to make you forget you’re talking to a computer. Here’s what it said:

  • Limited Contextual Understanding: While AI has made significant advancements in language processing, it still lacks the ability to fully understand the context in which it is writing. This can result in content that is inappropriate, off-topic or irrelevant, especially in sensitive areas such as healthcare, law, or finance.
  • Lack of Emotional Intelligence: AI is not capable of understanding emotions and feelings in the same way that humans do. This can result in content that lacks empathy or sensitivity, especially when dealing with complex issues such as mental health or trauma.
  • Difficulty with Creative Tasks: While AI can perform well in tasks that require data processing and analysis, it may struggle with creative tasks such as writing poetry, song lyrics, or fiction.
  • Ethical Concerns: There are also ethical concerns with the use of AI-generated content, especially when it comes to issues such as bias and fairness. AI may inadvertently perpetuate stereotypes and other forms of discrimination, which could have serious consequences for society.

As a team of senior marketers with university degrees and years of experience behind us, we don’t find the content above so offensive and dim that we refuse to engage with it. Yes, it’s pretty straightforward and relatively tone-deaf, but perhaps the future of ChatGPT is not why we use it but rather how we use it. This technology still requires human input and should be seen as a tool rather than the answer to all of life’s problems (no doubt, someone in Silicon Valley is onto that). We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with every piece of content we create, so is the problem as big as some make it out to be? We decided to do a little exercise and flex our brand marketing and strategy chops to show how ChatGPT is a tool that’s only as good as its user.

MYB:

Hey ChatGPT, sell me a dog treat in one sentence.

ChatGPT:

“Our all-natural dog treats are not only delicious, but also provide essential vitamins and nutrients to keep your furry friend healthy and happy.”

The answer is OK at best, very dull and unoriginal at worst. We then reworded and rephrased the question to include marketing strategy + content strategy + relatable consumer psychology, and what we got back was a far superior response:

ChatGPT + Strategy:

“Hey there, dog lover! Are you tired of giving your pup boring treats that make them roll their eyes (if they could)? Spice up their snack time with our all-natural, drool-worthy treats that will have your furry friend begging for more – trust us, we’ve seen it! Don’t make your dog settle for less, get our treats now and be the cool pet parent on the block!”

Even the most vigorous opponents of AI-generated content would find it hard to argue that the above sentence doesn’t nail humour, voice and tone with a solid call to action! It begs the question, though, why spend all this time inputting instructions, direction and strategy into ChatGPT and not simply write the sentence yourself? This idea is the perfect segue to our next point: the BIG difference between high-level and low-level content.

Chat GPT & Low-Level content:

When looking at low-level content through the lens of AI-generated copy and content marketing, it’s easy to see why many time-poor, cash-poor business owners would jump at the opportunity to take the shortcut that ChatGPT represents. All social media posts, short blogs, captions, podcasts, quizzes and image galleries are examples of low-level content that ChatGPT can rapid-fire responses and suggestions for marketers and business owners alike to use. Email newsletters that are visually focused, practical or reporting-based can be generated quickly. A campaign launched at record speed when using AI is excellent for those customers at the initial ‘awareness/top of funnel phase’.

A warning in what will quickly become a cautionary tale that cheap and fast is never good: Google is exceptionally advanced in developing online and email marketing algorithms that can quickly detect spam, junk and potentially AI-generated content. You run the risk of your emails, blogs and captions never seeing the light of day before they’re drowned in the unread Spam folder of your customer’s inbox or kicked to the 40th page by Google’s knights in shining SEO-clad armour. If pumping out low-value, filler content is the name of the game, by all means, ChatGPT is a great resource, but it’s important as business owners (and as humans) that we understand the pros and cons, the benefits and limitations of what AI can do. AI is a tool that can be used to supplement human creativity, but it cannot replace it entirely.

High-level content & AI-Generated material:

High-level content is used across web pages, long-form and educational blogs, newsletters and every piece of content that aims to drive traffic, leads, engagement, or sales through content. This type of content is often used at the ‘consideration and conversion phase’ where connecting to the reader/customer/audience on an emotional level is paramount, particularly as consumers become more informed and their wide range of choices expands exponentially. ChatGPT, by its admission, is incapable of connecting on a human level and reproducing the subtle nuances required to reach someone through the power of the written (or typed) word.

More research has yet to be done on the effects of AI on consumer behaviour, as it is still in its infancy. Not enough time has passed for the general population to fully adopt the technology in daily life (although we expect world domination once Google releases their own Language AI tool ‘Bard’ set for release in the coming months). Will audiences become so adept at noticing AI-generated content that they’ll disengage from it? Will human-made, genuine and authentic content win the battle against the bots? Do audiences want to know if the content they’re reading is AI-generated in a similar spirit to #ad disclaimer on Instagram? What’s clear is that businesses that develop strategies for using or not using AI will certainly be better equipped to deal with the technological disruption brought by AI. Undoubtedly, companies prioritising the consumer will minimise risk and reap the benefits of commercial opportunities.

 

pile of posters spread out on floor

Legal & Copyright implications:

Using ChatGpt or any other language AI tool for content or marketing purposes does pose some serious legal and copyright considerations, particularly regarding intellectual property rights, consumer protection laws and data privacy.

In Australia, the Copyright Act of 1968 protects work that has originated from a human author and currently does not extend to content that Artificial Intelligence has created. Similarly, Australian patent laws do not extend to AI-generated materials such as logos, graphics and other marketing materials. This means that any work ‘you’ produce using AI technology will not be safeguarded against plagiarism or straight-up reproduction from anyone else who likes your material.

According to OpenAI’s terms of use:

  • The user who provides input to ChatGPT, such as a command or request, owns that input, provided it is eligible for copyright protection, but there is no protection on the content that ChatGPT generates.
  • Similarity of Content. Due to the nature of machine learning, Output may not be unique across users and the Services may generate the same or similar output for OpenAI or a third party. Responses that are requested by and generated for other users are not considered your Content.

 

Although ChatGPT’s responses may seem original, it’s important to remember that its content is not unique and can be replicated across multiple users.

 

But how will we know what’s human or AI-generated? There are currently multiple programs online claiming to have the technology to detect whether content has been written by a human or by a Language AI program. Developed to help teachers, lecturers and educators wipe out AI-generated essays among students, these ‘anti-AI’ apps detect the formulas used by the program to advise whether it’s likely to have been written by AI or a human. We applied our dog treat exercise examples to one such app, and while it could detect the early responses given to us by ChatGPT, the more advanced instructions we passed, the less likely it was to catch that AI wrote the reply. In fact, the last sentence it wrote for us was 100% undetected by the ‘anti-AI’ app, which demonstrates again that ChatGPT is only as advanced as the person using it.

 

AI to combat AI technology

(Image source: An example of AI combatting AI Technology.)

What does Chat GPT mean for your business?

Language AI is NOT new. Language and design AI have been around for years (we first heard about it while attending an AdWorld Conference in 2018). Overseas contractors, such as the ones you find on Fiverr, have already been using it for over a decade. The technology is not new; it’s just hit the mainstream market, so what does ChatGPT mean for you? In his Forbes article, “What Does ChatGPT Really Mean For Businesses?” Bernard Marr suggests businesses should consider how they perform their work, what products and services they offer, and how they could incorporate AI technologies such as ChatGPT. He tells the following ways companies may wish to use ChatGPT to enhance workflows and improve customer experience:

  1. Compiling research
  2. Drafting marketing content
  3. Brainstorming ideas
  4. Writing computer code
  5. Automating parts of the sales process
  6. Delivering aftercare services when customers buy products
  7. Providing customised instructions
  8. Streamlining and enhancing processes using automation
  9. Translating text from one language to another
  10. Smoothing out the customer onboarding process
  11. Increasing customer engagement, leading to improved loyalty and retention

One thing cannot be disputed, AI is increasingly becoming a convenience of the future. It can offer businesses some real value IF used effectively. The premise remains though: if it’s cheap, it’s AI, if it’s fast, it’s AI and if it’s mediocre or generic, it’s AI. Poor content will always be that, poor content. Still, we’d bet our bottom dollar that every marketing agency has already adopted some kind of Design AI and Language AI program into their practice because they have the skills and experience to feed the tool exactly what it needs to produce some pretty great content.

For us, the jury is still out. We love original human-centred content creation but have already saved our clients time and money by using ChatGPT for code adjustments on their websites. We’ll continue experimenting in this space, especially around design and original content creation with a keen outlook on the future. We’re sure it won’t be long before we see job titles such as “AI strategist” or “AI web development manager” popping up in this industry because with innovation comes adaptation. And in the wise words of our friend and foe ChatGPT: “adaptation is not an option in a world of ever-evolving technology, it’s a necessity. Those who embrace change and innovation will thrive, while those who resist will be left behind.”

This article was written by a human and took eight hours, three chocolates, two cups of tea and countless heated office debates and complex discussions to complete. We don’t believe ChatGPT could have written this; what do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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