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Written by Richard Farrell
on October 19, 2017

Is AI content marketing bah humbug, or is it a bitter pill for content writers to swallow? As one of the latter – the writer, not the bitter pill I hope - I must confess to a fair amount of bias. To my way of thinking, the battle between content writers and machine-generated content hinges on the play-off between quality and cost.

This is nothing new. In 2016, Berkeley students programmed a computer to generate this poem

The dirty rusty wooden dresser drawer. A couple million people wearing drawers,

Or looking through a lonely oven door, flowers covered under marble floors.

And lying sleeping on an open bed. And I remember having started tripping,

Or any angel hanging overhead, without another cup of coffee dripping.

Surrounded by a pretty little sergeant, another morning at an early crawl.

And from the other side of my apartment, an empty room behind the inner wall.

A thousand pictures on the kitchen floor, talked about a hundred years or more.

 

The piece is sufficiently good at technical level to please an editor for SEO. There are no passives, and it scores 62.7 for reading ease. Moreover, a person with seventh grade education should find it easy to understand. But, to comprehend it … I doubt. This not to say AI content marketing does not have a role to play. However, according to Nesta, it has its limits.

 

Why Should We Bother Ourselves with What Nesta Says?

 

Nesta is an innovation foundation. It says, “We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time,” and we sure need those in the current era. It used predictive analytics to foretell which skills are most at risk from robots in the UK job market, and its findings generally apply to any first world society. Turning the page the other way around, the following are the skills least at risk:

  • On the social dimension: teaching, coordinating, monitoring, managing, and active listening
  • At the cognitive level: fluency of ideas, originality, active learning, and complex problem solving

Computers are not there yet, although Nesta foresees a gradual merging of human and digital minds. It cites the example of a future profession, the immersive experience designer “who combines creative and tech-based skills. This new occupation is closest to an artist or photographer.” In this regard, Mashable speaks of, “sites with immersive web designs having an image or video as the entire background, completely absorbing your attention. Once the site loads, you're immediately submerged in the subject matter, hence the term "immersive."

immersive design

 

Relating these Thoughts to Content Marketing and Artificial Intelligence

 

Content writers already use artificial intelligence to a degree, although we may not relate these to google searches, and spell checkers to AI as such. They are certainly faster and more effective than searching for ideas in a brick and mortar library, or paging through an ink and paper dictionary.

Similarly, we use tools like math marketing and predictive analytics to snipe with greater accuracy for more productive leads.

So looking ahead, we need to find ways to combine AI with Nesta’s active learning, complex problem solving, critical thinking, deductive reasoning, and so on.Writing for EContent,Lin Pophal describes signs of progress in the ways we conceive, produce and distribute content. For her, human content writers belong towards the end, not at the beginning of the process.

Her vision reminds me of Leonardo da Vinci’s and Michelangelo’s art studios in the Renaissance. Both used students to create most of their pictures, merely adding the final touches and then signing them off. That is what art galleries mean when they say, “from the studio of.” In a similar way, predictive analytics and automated content processing could do the groundwork for writers who then assume the role of finishers.

According to Paroma Sen of Martech Advisor, and I quote, “It’s not a secret anymore that prominent platforms like Forbes and Associated Press produce machine-generated content, although human editors do step in at various stages”.

Vitruvian man, content marketing and artificial intelligence

 

Conceived and Machine-Generated Marketing Content

 

 

Nancy Shenker, founder of Embrace the Machine thinks AI content marketing will replace 25% of marketing jobs by 2022. Using Nesta’s logic, these occupations may be in sales, customer service and administration, where routine-intensive tasks are under threat from technological advances such as intelligent personal assistants. Fully automated math marketing driving marketing metrics out of big data is a case in point. But that’s not the end of it by far.

The Embrace the Machine founder envisages, “50% of all content being developed by machines, with oversight and editing by humans. Intelligent machines,” she goes on to say, “will recommend topics based on trends, gather facts - and validate them - and assemble very tight posts and suggested graphics based on those combinations.” Humans will just add “soul and humor as needed,” and perhaps authority like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

These creative writers will then bring their fluency of ideas, and originality to bear, turning the dry dust of pure data into rich content spoken from the heart. They will find their relationship changing with AI brains like Google though, as complex algorithms make it harder to succeed with black hat SEO. Perhaps robots will be better after all, at creating content that appears original and embraces the full topic. It’s a hard call. If machines become smarter than humans then what happens next?

 

The War Between the Robotic and Human Worlds

 

There is a great deal of hype generated by what some call the neo-luddite movement. The original luddites were 19th Century textile workers and weavers, that went around England smashing the new steam-powered looms. In hindsight, their children have far better jobs. But here’s the rub. If posts on Facebook changed the course of the US presidential election – and debatably Brexit – could robots influence the mind of humanity? The Express thinks this will happen when they develop self-awareness.

 machine generated content marketing

We'll be fine Richard! (Note from the editor)

A Future View of Content Marketing and Artificial Intelligence

 

Like it or not, content marketing and AI are already teaming at the hip. Paul Barba, Chief Scientist at Lexalytics points to a confluence of four areas where he believes AI becomes invaluable to math marketing and predictive analytics.

  • Math marketing already enables us to fast-track market research. And to snipe niche-marketing segments accurately with messages that speak to their souls. It can also tell us the best time and day to do this, something we could not possibly extract from big data without machines. This will make the market so competitive that today’s content is simply no longer good enough.
  • Furthermore, machines already provide digital tools to assess the productivity of marketing campaigns critically. Once they build an experience database, they can peer into the future, and compare the likely worth of alternative projects.
  • AI’s time will come when it becomes cheap enough to produce affordable machine-generated content for the mass of content marketers, as opposed to Associated Press and Forbes. However, authors, writers, and translators will still be adding a ‘human touch’ for a while. According to the BBC, we are the 220th least likely to lose our jobs to robots out of 366. Although, I admit the research is two years old.

 

Is the End of the Road in Sight for Content Marketers?

 

No, it’s not, provided they learn to combine the best of traditional marketing and artificial intelligence skills. I spoke of the future profession of immersive experience designer earlier. Nesta has a second one up its sleeve, namely the need to develop 21st Century skills that combine its social and cognitive dimensions. Nesta speaks generically – I think, or it should – of a super human being combining hospitality and management skills. Such people are able to interact, understand problems, develop solutions, and act decisively. They are your sword and shield rolled into one weapon.

The content marketers I work with have already adopted this role. They just need better, bigger and smarter machines to free them from number crunching, and these are on their way.

 

My Personal Take on the Content Marketing, Artificial Intelligence Debate

 

I began writing this article in a neutral to negative mood. You will have noticed that. You may also have noticed how I became increasingly positive. We have to face the future together as we develop new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time.


via GIPHY

I think I’ll close this one out by restating Nesta’s critical 21st century skill set.

  • On the social dimension: teaching, coordinating, monitoring, managing, and active listening
  • At the cognitive level: fluency of ideas, originality, active learning, and complex problem solving

I hope you found this topic, and my article interesting and rewarding. Must dash now. The Windows robot has decided to update my ‘typewriter’. Who am I to deny it the pleasure when it comes with so many laborsaving aps that please me so?

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