A couple years ago, artificial intelligence still seemed like a somewhat far-off, sci-fi version of reality. And it certainly didn’t seem like something that would completely transform how marketers work within the next few years.
But in 2023, generative AI is officially here, and it’s only growing. In fact, the generative AI market size accounted for over 7 billion USD in 2021, and it’s projected to occupy more than 110 billion USD by 2023 — growing at a CAGR of 34.3%.
All of which is to say: Generative AI is poised to completely disrupt — and elevate — business’ content strategies in 2023 and beyond.
And disruption of any kind can be scary. What does generative AI mean for the future of marketing? Will it replace us, or elevate us? And what about SEO? Will Googling be replaced with AI chatbots — and what does all that mean for content creation?
Let’s dive in.
Will AI Replace Marketers?
AI Augments The Human Experience — but It Doesn’t Replace the Human Within That Experience
Generative AI can research virtually any topic across the internet, and distill that research into original content. It can format that content as a blog post, email, Facebook ad, or something else, depending on the query.
Generative AI is still in its early stages, and it has some issues. The information it collects can be biased or simply false, and it doesn’t have the discernment of a real human to catch those inaccuracies.
But as generative AI continues to learn and grow, it makes sense that marketers are concerned. In the future, rather than needing a team of five or ten content creators, will you just need one — someone to fact-check the AI’s content?
Fortunately, Samyutha isn’t worried. In fact, even though her team currently uses generative AI on a daily basis, she’s still actively hiring and growing her team.
As she puts it, “AI augments the human experience, but it doesn’t replace the human within that experience. We value writers in our society because they’re able to give us a thought-provoking human perspective on the world. It isn’t just about summarizing facts that are out there. It’s about humans sharing opinions on very real topics that help build your perspective on how you feel about something. So an AI could really never replace that human perspective.”
However, AI Will Force Content Creators to Re-skill
Samyutha does acknowledge that AI will force content creators to re-skill, as aspects of their roles become more automated.
She told me, “I think it’ll force content creators to re-skill. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I think that’s what every big shift in technology has done for humans.”
She adds, “I’ve never met a content creator who has said, ‘Wait. I really want to spend more time doing all the rote tasks of reading everything I need to know on the internet about a given topic.’ AI will give marketers more time to be creative, form an opinion, and incorporate more data sources into their perspectives.”
Rather than thinking of AI as a content creator replacement, it’s better to think of AI as a marketer’s efficient side-kick.
Consider this: A marketer decides she wants to write a topic about SWOT analysis. Rather than spending her morning chugging coffee and reading up on what SWOT analysis means, effective SWOT analysis examples, and how SWOT analyses can help businesses grow, she can simply plug the query into an AI chatbot.
Once she’s confirmed the sources the chatbot used to pull that information are accurate, she can quickly skim through the AI’s response and learn everything she needs to begin writing about the topic. She can even use the AI’s response as a first draft, and strengthen it with her own unique tone and perspective.
From there, she can leverage the AI’s proofreading skills to edit her final copy.
Additionally, if the marketer has written a piece of content that she’d like to turn into an entire campaign, she can use AI to re-format her blog post into corresponding ad copy and creative, which she can hand over to her sales and paid ad teams.
As Reddy puts it, “I can effectively hand over to sales an entire drip campaign, an entire outbound sequence, complete with landing pages, with the ads that people will click and see. And it really allows me to take control back on what it means to execute a campaign. It enables me to truly be a project manager and a strategist, versus someone who is waiting on other people to deliver their end of the bargain.”
Marketers Will Need to Become Experts in Select AI Platforms
Freelancing platform Upwork recently announced it added a new category, ‘Generative AI’, as a specialty within their marketplace.
This means business leaders can now hire freelance content creators who have expertise with a specific AI platform — and Reddy isn’t surprised.
She says, “AI has biases deeply embedded within its models that people are working on. AI has the tendency to hallucinate and start talking about random things when you’re asking it for outputs, so it would be really tough to just completely remove a human from the process.”
She continues, “Similar to how a marketer can level-up by becoming HubSpot or Salesforce certified, I think we’ll soon see marketers who demonstrate their value by saying, ‘Hey, I’m skilled in using generative AI platforms.'”
AI Will Eliminate Portions of the Creation Process – But it Will Also Elevate Marketers
Reddy admits, “I do think it will eliminate some portions of the content creation process.”
However, she’s quick to add, “I think AI will focus on elevating folks, and I think the angle you take matters on this whole generative AI front. If you’re a writer, content creator, or a marketer, you’ll want to ask yourself, ‘Am I going to be someone that embraces technology and figures out how to upskill myself and actually become the cream of the crop in terms of talent? Or am I going to be someone who pushes technology away, refuses to believe it’s happening, and clings onto an old way of life?’“
For Reddy, she sees marketers at the forefront of a tool that will ultimately upend all roles within a business, and she believes there’s great privilege in being the first to adopt it.
As she puts it, “I think there’s a certain power here that marketers can reclaim, and instead of being the victims in this story of ‘generative AI is coming for marketing’, I think we really reposition it as saying, ‘generative AI has landed in the most innovative portion of the enterprise: marketing.'”
She continues, “And we are now the stewards of this technology and how it’ll be used within the enterprise, and we get to pilot it and see how it can supercharge our work. And the folks who lean into being the stewards of this powerful technology will reap its benefits. I consider myself and our industry extremely lucky to to be in this position.”
Will Generative AI Replace Search Engines?
As more marketers and consumers use AI chatbots to get quick answers to common queries, it stands to reason that they’ll be leveraging search engines less often.
Reddy doesn’t see search engines going away, particularly since the information supplied on search engines is what powers generative AI results — but she does see it drastically changing.
As she puts it, “Search can help battle AI’s inaccuracies. For instance, Jasper has a function where you can toggle on Google search results. So if I say, ‘Jasper, help me write a paragraph about XYZ,’ it’ll write the paragraph, and at the bottom it’ll put in the Google search results it used while it helped me create that output. So I have factual links which I can cite, and fact-check to ensure they’re the most reliable piece of content on a given topic.”
She continues, “I don’t see search going away. I do see a future where I don’t necessarily want to type things into a search bar, and instead, I want to use chat functionality. That, I think, is imminent. And I think we’re already seeing that with the virality of Chat GPT. In just a couple of days, it’s become the fastest-growing consumer app.”
Ultimately, my conversation with Reddy felt positive and uplifting. As marketers, we don’t need to fear AI: We need to embrace it as technology that will help us do our jobs better.
And, personally, I’m all for any tool that minimizes the amount of time I spend researching, so I can get back to what really matters: creating content with the intention to move, inspire, or challenge readers’ to think differently.