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Content Strategy

Will AI Replace Writers and Editors?

The short answer is no! 

Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about the end of human copywriting, and how just last week Google officially realigned its focus from mobile first to Artificial Intelligence first. To add credibility to this statement, this time last year we saw IBM Watson edit The Drum, a magazine website and publication; if you believe what you have read then you might have cause for concern if you’re working in the traditional or digital content industry. Fear not, I’ll explain why you need not worry for at least another decade.

Should we dust off our CVs?

The reality is that there are already machines creating content and they have been doing so for some time now. Gartner predicts that “by 2018 20% of all business content will be authored by machines” and whilst that sounds scary, it really isn’t as notable as it may appear. As marketers it’s important we embrace new technological advancements as they allow us more scope to focus on the things that only we can do.

At the moment, the technology used by machines to create content NLG (natural language generation) is good - chances are you’ve consumed content delivered from one of these platforms in the last week. This might have been in the form of live football commentary, financial reports or Google paid adverts. The problem with this content is in its soul- or lack thereof. While this content is important, maybe even essential when your football team is playing and you don’t have access to a TV, it’s not engaging and doesn’t evoke much emotion (except if your team loses).

Why?

Currently, a machine can’t create content on its own; it must have access to a template and a structured data set. If you provide both these things, then like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, you have a machine creating structured content. This works perfectly for generating weather reports or financial summaries, adding a little meat to the bones, but it doesn’t work well when trying to drive engagement or evoke a reaction.

Why machines can’t do it all

Think back to the last piece of content that you clicked on, shared and engaged with. I mean, really engaged with. I would bet that it played on human emotion to drive a reaction, whether you laughed or cried. This kind of content drives shares, likes, clicks and comments. Whilst AI can help inform us of the latest trends and the topics that are resonating with people, no algorithm in existence right now can add creativity or sentiment to that content. This isn’t to say that as AI advances and machines learn this won’t become the case, but for now, when it comes to content campaigns that need to create a reaction, it is teamwork: machines to do the heavy lifting and humans to keep it relevant and relatable.

So what does it mean for you?

AI is coming! Embrace it and let it do all the hard work. I don’t believe that content writers and editors are going anywhere fast. At iProspect, we already ensure that the content we create is written by humans and informed by data to drive the positive reactions we need to enhance performance across all channels. We call it Intelligent Content, and moving forward we’re only going to make it more intelligent as technology advances and we continue to embrace AI and machine learning. 


Andy Edmonds, Head of Engagement at iProspect UK, originally wrote this article.

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