robots writing contents

Since the beginning of the year, the internet has been rife with tutorials popping up like whack-a-moles. They’re impossible to miss. In the last 6 months, generative artificial intelligence has become the ultimate weapon for all editorial and SEO strategies. And according to sector gurus, these AIs really can do anything: identify promising topics for your websites to showcase, structure your copy so that readers are hooked, and above all, gush endless streams of content.

All that’s left for you to do is stuff your CMS with that machine-spewed copy, and you’ll soon stand out from the crowd with infinite high-value keywords and breath-taking ROI. A miracle solution.

Really? Well, no. Things are little more complex. While generative tools can certainly help deploy a carefully considered editorial strategy, they certainly aren’t a quick fix to any problem. Anything but. Human intelligence and creativity have a bright future for people who want to support real companies with their SEO strategy.

A genius, with room for improvement

Of all the creative intelligent content tools that have made noise on the internet in recent months, ChatGPT undoubtedly has the loudest voice. Initially presented as a conversational interface, it very quickly found its place in the Content Marketing toolbox. At first glance, its setup and the results it generates, are pretty impressive.

Almost every digital professional has had the chance to take ChatGPT for a test drive. It doesn’t just answer questions, the generative platform can even put forward an opinion – provided it remains ethical and follows the rules enacted by its designers – and defend a precise argument on a given subject. It can write content in a predefined form (a recipe, a list of steps, short sentences or precise structures, etc.). It can also handle endless themes in record time. In short, ChatGPT has a wide range and extraordinary agility in how it writes, without the limitations of a human brain.

It wouldn’t be a huge leap to suggest it might soon be replacing copywriters.

So why is it so good at generating content on anything and everything in such a short time? Beyond the technological prowess of the Large Language Model on which ChatGPT is based, the best explanation is the sheer amount of knowledge that has gone into training the tool.Articles, content, text files by the millions covering thousands of subjects and each written in a very particular style have all been fed into it. Artificial intelligence is then able to analyse, dissect and finally reproduce that content and style, even though it does not understand it.

And there’s the rub : AI is above all a formidable… copier.

Unravelling the tangled web of fiction

Here’s where things get dicey . The main risk of using generative artificial intelligence for a marketing strategy is to think that the tools are anything other than very gifted copiers – “stochastic parrots” to quote the American researcher Emily Bender – and to imagine that they really are intelligent. Because none of the AI tools that have arrived on the market in the last few years can really understand what they write.

They are purely rhetorical machines, capable only of making their productions look believable, without worrying about the content they share. There have been more and more demonstrations of this in recent months: various AI testers have found misattributed quotes, incorrect or even totally made-up sources, and sometimes references to authors or scientists who simply never existed. Enough to cast doubt on any machine-produced content.

The reason is that AI can’t identify truth, nor indeed meaning. The tools are mainly designed to assemble words into understandable and believable sentences. They can therefore trick the reader with misleading sources. How can we possibly find out what errors – intentional or otherwise – slipped into the petabytes they were fed during their training?

Above all, they cannot challenge the truth of their production, only its likelihood. So they often invent content whose grammatical structure and meaning is perfectly plausible. But that doesn’t mean it is true. One of the risks of using generative AI today to market your business is that you might publish something completely fake.

The biggest promoters of AI, such as Microsoft and Google, have also begun to warn their users about these drawbacks. Indeed, ChatGPT has a worrying disclaimer under its message bar: “ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts”.   

When humans use AI

Given that it is impossible to guarantee whether content produced by generative tools is factual, is it then prudent to use artificial intelligence to produce content for your brand, whether simply for SEO purposes or more ambitious goals?

The answer seems clear: the promise of fully automating content production and replacing your team of writers with bots in the coming months is a meaningless threat put forward by a handful of quick-fix sellers.

All the feedback from the writing field that has been shared recently proves that humans still have an important role to play in the digital editorial sphere. For many reasons. First because if what AI writes is unreliable – it generates incorrect information – humans must be involved to verify each statement it makes. Secondly, because even though robots do seem to write with some skill, it is still unlikely that they will be able to master the tone of voice that is specific to your brand, its identity and its imagery. The ability to sculpt your text into something that truly matches your brand identity looks set to remain resolutely human, even with algorithms becoming more and more sophisticated.

Finally, and this is the best reason, because there is currently no artificial intelligence tool that can generate content without being told exactly what to create. While generative models can of course help identify a subject or angle, like a sparring partner  or Dr Wilson when he helps Dr House find a diagnosis, they do it because a human person challenges them, requests information, questions them. The revolution that generative artificial intelligence might spark in the world of web writing is the emergence of a new profession: “prompt designer”, a specialist who can ask a machine to produce a text that comes as close as possible to the client’s brief. A specific job, of course. Requiring technical skill, yes. But the person doing that job will always need to understand both the identity of a brand and the communication strategy of a company. They would need to be a communication professional.

Bursting the generative bubble

AI is only a tool. A tool that new specialists will learn to use and appropriate. A tool that already allows and – in the future – will allow us to create, undoubtedly more quickly, a larger amount of content for brands. And that is another key pitfall of using generative tools for SEO and digital communication more broadly: the tidal wave.

By making it easier to create content and promising to make it accessible to everyone, platforms like ChatGPT are lowering the barriers that prevented certain players from having low-cost and aggressive editorial strategies. They allow companies to industrialise their content production. At the risk of saturating a content market that is already teetering towards an overdose.

A wave of editorial creation is therefore likely to quickly take the internet by storm. It has already started. If you’re looking for proof, just search for the keywords “regenerate response” (title of the button you can click to obtain an alternative answer in the ChatGPT interface) on Google. The wave will affect search engine results and user behaviour, but only until the next Google algorithm update.

Current thinking is that the AI bubble will burst, just as that of the metaverse – a virtual universe which, barely a year ago, was going to revolutionise our relationship with digital and with the world – has done. The truth is probably closer to the following scenario: AIs are here to stay, but they will be used as a tool, they won’t trigger a revolution. They are just another addition to the toolbox used by digital marketers, which will allow those professionals to improve and optimise their production. But that tool will neither be independent nor replace human intervention. Far from it.

Translated from French by Ruth Simpson

Let’s get up and start a new round of #JobtitlesBingo!
“Platform Advertising Consultant” – what rolls off the tongue so smoothly can sometimes be as exciting as a roller coaster ride in everyday life. Our colleague Nina Altmann tells us what she finds so exciting about her job, how she imagines the perfect client and what makes her everyday life so beautifully diverse.

Check out our new episode Jobtitles Bingo and learn more about how diverse the everyday life of a Platform Advertising Consultant at Mediaplus is.

Our Worldwide Executive Creative Director Jason Romeyko sums up a week of ÜberCreativity, inspiration and motivational speeches at Serviceplan Group’s headquarters – the House of Communication in Munich.

Our colleague Alicia Fricke gives us some exiting insights into the world of the Digital Media Consultant, the job profile combines curiosity, analytical thinking, creativity and sociability.

In an interview on the AME Awards blog, Alexander Schill and Alessandro Panella talk about creative and effective work at Serviceplan, finding innovative solutions, the importance of creative competitions and crazytivity.

We often ask our self the question, where do good ideas come from? and we seem to be sure that a great idea is born in a single incident, Eureka! .. like Newton’s apple.

Moreover, we think creative ideas come from the selected few, guys with turtleneck sweaters and rounded glasses, or it has to be written somewhere in their title, they also have to work in a special place, preferably with a lot of colors and bean bags .. and the occasional pool table.

The first truth is, ideas take time to be form, it’s usually the collection of everything we face in our lives, the problems, the challenges, the stuff we read online, a story our mom told us at a certain point, and although you may not know it, your brain files all these information for later use.

Ideas are created in our daily lives, in the cultures we live in, so if you are a creative person, an accountant, a photographer or a cook, you can find inspiration everywhere, and if you remember that ideas come from creative collaboration and the impact of and the role of users and consumers in creating your ideas are guaranteed to elevate to an upper level.

The second truth is, ideas are more likely to come from the combination of different thoughts that clash together, you see why workshops are important, for an idea to be born it needs a collision, a friction if you may, that challenges the single thought in a purpose of improving it or creating something completely new out of it.

Best examples of innovations around the world we created or only find its true purpose by customers, end-users, people who created beautiful things that would not have been created by big corporations because they couldn’t see the need, the opportunity: they didn’t have the incentive to innovate.

This is a huge challenge to the way we think creativity comes about. The traditional view still follows in much the way with think about creativity – in silos.

Ideas are problem-solving, seizing opportunities, creating a change but ultimately selling a product. And if an idea doesn’t deliver on any of those goals, then it’s a waste.

Sadly, you see a lot of “waste” around us, beautiful execution and products that cost a lot of money and the most expensive media touch points, but no results, no sales, no test drives, no interest.

We need to have a mindset that allows everyone to contribute, under one roof or many, from any department, client or agency, small business or big… trust me it makes a difference.

What does creative mean?
What a question.
Ideally, creative is something one just is, without any lengthy discussion.
However, if I must.
Here goes:

Creative is new, unpredictable, capricious.
A smartass take on this is that being creative is a paradox. It is the meaningful combination of things which do not belong together.
And then you suddenly just get it.

The word “meaningful” is important. Randomly combining thoughts, feelings and forms usually ends in confusion. Creative combinations on the other hand must make sense – but ideally not until they are in the mind of the consumer. If he or she completes the chain of thought, decodes the ultimate meaning of a film or a picture then, test institutes please take note, the effect is much stronger than when everything is pre-digested.

Actually, “consumer” is a word that I don’t really like to use. Yes, ultimately, advertising is concerned with selling, but the more messages rain down upon us “consumers” the more we only take heed of the relevant ones. That can be the much-quoted “right product at the right time in the right medium”. Programmatic is the key word here. However, the crucial factor is that the better a message is packaged, the stronger – again – the effect. I prefer to side with “Saint” Sir John Hegarty, and refer to “the public” rather than to “consumers”. We want to sell to consumers. We want to entertain the public. What is good is that a well-entertained public buys more than a well-informed public. After all, we speak of a “buying mood”.

What is good entertainment in a creative form? It’s more than just fun. It’s a new, stimulating thought, for example. A new perspective on life, giving rise to the observation, “Wow, I’ve never really looked at that in that way before”. That is what we remember, that’s what we like to tell other people about.

Good creation thrives on strong feelings. Being enthused, touched, unsettled, buoyed up, amused, everything that moves you. Tedious lists of information do not move me. I am moved by good stories which end with a surprise. Human stories which turn my prejudices and my neatly ordered thoughts inside out and upside down, which develop a dynamic of their own, never to serve their own purpose but that of the brand. This is easy to say, but damn difficult to realise every day.

Of course, creative also means unyielding, untiring and tough. Here’s a good thought: it is not ideas which set good creatives apart from bad ones but their refusal to give up.

P.S. I’m quite proud that I didn’t use the current buzzwords “disruptive”, “diversity” and “digital transformation” a single time in this text. But if you need to, my dear public, just add them mentally where appropriate and then you too will get it. 😉

This article was published in German at W&V.

Why creativity remains a human affair but can still benefit from programmatic advertising

The coming of the a. P. (after Programmatic) era has sparked a new debate on relevance: the consumer is becoming more critical and thus less susceptible to advertising messages: So instead of one message for all, target groups are now being addressed specifically: “Buy our product, it is exactly tailored to your needs. Yes, we mean you. No one else needs the product as much as you do.” On the other hand, companies paid five million US dollars for a 30-second advert during this year’s Super Bowl. Pure scattergun, one message for all. So who is it who produces relevance – intelligent machines or creative people? The answer is: both. In this debate, as so often, there is no either-or, because maximum relevance can only be achieved by technology bosses and creative directors jointly.

Programmatic advertising is one way to create relevance. But programmatic advertising is no substitute for creative excellence. Even personalised advertising needs the structure of a central message, for example in the form of a slogan that is taken up again and again over a lengthy period and several campaigns: “You’re not you when you’re hungry” – the Snickers slogan remains memorable because all target groups can identify with it on a basic level. If someone in your circle of acquaintances acts like a diva, what immediately comes to mind is the slogan from the advert – that is relevance. A fitting testimonial can also be the starting point for a successful campaign. When George Clooney looks casually into the camera and gives – even more casually – his best “What else?” it is probably also relevant to tea drinkers. The message in this example is less bold but no less effective. The coffee capsules represent savoir-vivre, confidence and coolness.

When the general story-telling is cut and dried, programmatic creation of the campaign can provide a strong stimulus for the second phase. Depending on the target group, the slogan “You’re not you when you’re hungry” could be re-enacted with different testimonials and contexts: sports fans see a Snickers spot on sports news pages or on TV during Wimbledon, when John McEnroe smashes his tennis racket to bits after an umpire’s decision – then, after one bite from the chocolate bar, he becomes Roger Federer and is on his best behaviour. George Clooney no longer just drinks his coffee in plush hotels but also in the office, at the hairdresser’s or in the theatre. What is important is that core ideas and personalised variations are in accordance with each other, both stylistically as well as regards content: the core message should always remain unchanged.

In addition to the big consumer brands, brands with specialised target groups and products benefit particularly from programmatic advertising, because it enables them to avoid high scatter loss. Even B2B enterprises use the personalised approach. Here too, however: An algorithm cannot replace creative input. Without a good central idea I believe there is absolutely no point in varying a couple of text components and pictures in a banner. Boring advertising, even personalised, is still boring.

Relevance has many facets. It can be produced by people and machines – the best solution is for creative people to do the preliminary work and for intelligent machines to go the extra mile. It only starts getting really exciting when ideas people and advertisers with enthusiasm for technology sit down at the table together. Experience shows that things don’t always go smoothly straight away and, particularly, that the whole can only work when both sides show mutual respect and understanding for the other’s work. The results which arise from this, however, are worth it every time!

In an interview with Luis Piquer Trujillo, CEO Publips Serviceplan Spain, talks about Paella Today and branded content.

In an interview with Sara Baroni, Managing Director Plan.Net Italia, talks about creativity and innovation and gives insights into the daily work life of the Italian agency.