Marketing executives are scrambling to figure out how generative artificial intelligence can add efficiency to their operations and day to day work. An area many of them are focusing their early experiments on: Brand publishing.
Generative AI has exploded into the mainstream in recent months, driven by technologies such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Bard, and image generation software such as Dall-E. Marketers have been quick to embrace the technology, and are attempting to figure out how AI can help them be more productive, ease processes, and maybe even make them more creative.
“Storytelling, creativity, aesthetics is all stuff this technology is fundamentally good at,” Tim Hwang, author of “Subprime Attention Crisis” and the former director of the Harvard-MIT Ethics and Governance of AI initiative said during the BrXnd conference, held last week in New York to explore the role of AI in marketing.
Generative AI tools have sprung up quickly over the past few months, many of them aimed at marketers and promising to alleviate different pain points. A particularly attractive niche is content production, largely because it’s an area current AI platforms excel in, and also because boosting quality and efficiency remain a priority for many marketers.
Drew Neisser, founder of CMO Huddles, said during the event that CMOs are playing with different platforms “quite a bit.” One group of CMOs he has spoken with is reimagining landing pages and subject lines for content emails. Another hot area, said Neisser, is mass personalization: “I want to talk to people one at a time, as a massive organization.”
Speaking at the same event, Ernst & Young chief marketing officer Toni Clayton-Hine said marketers have “a lot more latitude to be able to play [with AI tools]” than other disciplines, which makes experimentation more possible. At E&Y the marketing team has been using AI for ideation for content. Clayton-Hine said that she has been trying to figure out how to use AI to take consumer brand perception data and use that for content and idea generation.
“Brand content was trending towards high level quality over quantity anyway,” said Nick Parish, group director, content strategy at Work & Co., who is working with brands to figure out how to use AI in a way that doesn’t compromise quality. “Maybe there are ways to bring content to life in a hyperlocal, hyper-personalized way.”
So far, AI’s use in content and publishing has run the gamut, but it remains mostly in the experimentation stage. Some agencies have been using AI to create content quickly for clients. For example, PR firm FCA has an AI press release writing tool, while Stagwell has Taylor, which helps draft blog posts, social media copy and press releases. Most publicized uses have been relegated to ad copy and images, like at Coca-Cola.
The hurdle right now is that a lot of work has to go into ensuring the end-product is accurate, said Clayton-Hine of E&Y. While fact-checking of content is a part of a regular process for any brand publishing team, AI-generated content is riddled with more errors. It also isn’t (yet) taking the place of expert writers, she said.
The other hurdle for brands is sorting through the multiple use-cases. “We don’t have writers who are afraid of it, but we don’t know how to best use it. I don’t think there’s fear, but I do sense that there is a longer term question of ‘how do I make it integrate better? How do I make it more personalized and pointed?,” said Clayton-Hine.
Brand safety is another concern for brand publishing teams. Rob May, founder and CEO of Nova AI, which creates software for content producers, said during a presentation at the BrXnd conference that generative AI can create content and ads that mimic recognizable brands, which can create issues.
A survey last Fall by Aira found that nearly 60% of marketers were using AI tools to optimize existing content, but pointed to the longer implementation timeline, risk and governance issues and cost as major challenges.
Already, content teams say they’re inundated with how many tools are out there, from those that promise to create personalized content (Pepper AI, for example) to others that help teams create “on-brand” content through AI (like Jasper.) Most have similar pitches: Focus on solving for the pressure teams have to create articles quickly.
“There’s an abundance of use cases for AI, and marketers are often paralyzed by the paradox of choice,” said Paul Aaron, CEO at Addition, which can help brands turn AI-driven research into content and ideas.