In this week’s Brand Publishing Briefing:
- What artificial intelligence could mean for the future of media.
- Brand marketers experimenting with chatbots are running into quality issues.
- Oatly tries to own its narrative with a new website called FCKOatly.
Artificial intelligence and the future of media
In Axios, Jim VandeHei wrote about how artificial intelligence is poised to become one of the most significant technologies to transform media – on a scale that he says “rivals the Internet” (which by the way, wasn’t that great for media businesses to begin with.)
AI will transform media and content in a few key ways, he wrote. One that’s key for anyone in the business of creating content: “The days of gaming social media algorithms are coming to an abrupt — and needed — end. Commoditized or general interest content will fade in value. Any company betting only on high traffic seems doomed. The demand for subject matter expertise will rise fast.”
As we’ve covered previously, the rise of generative AI is poised to upend brand publishing strategies. As chatbots explode in popularity, a key competitive advantage for many brands – expertise – is coming under serious threat. For brand marketers that have invested significant resources in content operations, generative AI may seriously threaten their ability to engage with audiences, especially since so many AI models draw on publicly available web content to train and inform responses.
In this context, VandeHei’s point – that general interest content will seriously lose value – takes on even more urgency. Some brand publishers have relied on attracting audiences with relatively commoditized content that ranks well in search results pages. Even though some are able to focus their content on high-value expertise that only they have, that isn’t true for everyone.
“Consumers will soon get awesome, fully written search results with ChatGPT-like technologies,” VandeHei writes. This is going to have wide-ranging effects on publishers, who are about to lose a significant chunk of web traffic.
A key mechanism many will begin to rely on: Direct connections.
We’ve seen more and more brand publishers begin to put up registration walls and launch email newsletters in an effort to own the inbox and build more direct relationships with their readers. As consumers become inundated with content, and turn to generative AI for quick answers to queries, more brand publishers will need to focus on building long-term, strong loyalty with their readers.
Some bright spots amidst these seismic shifts: VandeHei also says that the glut of “stuff” on the Internet will also place more of a premium on high-quality content that actually is useful for readers. And for those who rise to the top by actually investing in audience-first strategies, this may actually be a good thing. The coming AI era is going to kill a lot of publishing ambitions. But for some, it’s going to be a clarifier that gives an advantage to those who can navigate this new information era.
AI experiments are running into quality and brand safety issues
Speaking of AI, 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.
Oatly launches FCKOatly.com
Some brand publishers write positive takes about the companies they’re part of, but Oatly has gone in a different direction.. The company has launched FCKOatly.com, which chronicles the brand’s high-profile controversies.
The publication covered Glebe-gate, when in 2021, Oatly lost a trademark infringement lawsuit against Glebe Farm, which makes a product called “PureOaty,” as well as when Oatly added Blackstone as an investor in 2020 and attracted complaints. It’s one example of a way brands are using content to “own their own narrative.”
Each “controversy” gets the full content treatment, including comments from critics and fans. Oatly said the site is “devoted to helping our fans – and the thousands of people who hate us – better understand everything that’s “wrong” with our company. Why would we build such a website? That’s a great question! For starters, it’s super convenient to have the latest boycotts and criticisms all in one place. But more importantly, we’re not the type of company to hide from moments like these. We see all the negative headlines, posts and petitions as an inevitable consequence of trying to create positive societal change.”
The way brands are hiring publishing talent is all wrong
“People are looking for talent in the wrong places,” according to CollabWORK CEO and founder, Summer Delaney.
Brand publishers often find it particularly difficult to source high-quality talent because the discipline is new and evolving rapidly. Meanwhile, the way publishing talent looks for jobs has changed drastically in the post-pandemic world.
Toolkits spoke with Delaney about why brand publishers have a hard time finding talent, why current approaches to hiring are broken, and how CollabWORK is tapping curated professional communities and leveraging referrals to source high-quality candidates.