CONVERGENCE OR COLLISION? AI AND CONTENT MARKETING, PART 11

Convergence Or Collision? AI and Content Marketing, Part 11

In Part 11 of our Convergence Or Collision? AI and Content Marketing series, we’ll explore the changes in store, and the impact on professions, communications, agency and marketer organizations.

Conflicting predictions

The number one concern with the rise of artificial intelligence, of course, is that AI will wipe out jobs that are currently being done by people across industries.

It’s a valid concern.

Just four years ago, for instance, Elon Musk predicted to the National Governors Association that “There certainly will be job disruption. Because what’s going to happen is robots will be able to do everything better than us. …Transport will be one of the first to go fully autonomous. But when I say everything — the robots will be able to do everything, bar nothing.” 

With powerful, innovative leaders expressing doubts of this sort, it’s easy to see why the average transportation operator, for instance, may have a negative view of AI. 

On the other hand, some argue that the tech industry giants such as Musk and Zuckerberg take an oddly self-flattering view of AI, warning about powerful technology that they create.

The Verge took a close look at some of the negative ways artificial intelligence has already infiltrated the workplace, arguing that:

Maybe the robots will someday come for the truck drivers and everyone else, though automation’s net impact on jobs so far has been less than catastrophic… But one likely scenario is that those truckers will find themselves not entirely jobless but, as an analysis by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education suggests, riding along to help mostly autonomous vehicles navigate tricky city streets, earning lower pay in heavily monitored and newly de-skilled jobs. Or maybe they will be in call center-like offices, troubleshooting trucks remotely, their productivity tracked by an algorithm. In short, they will find themselves managed by machines…”

In a sense, the fact that these varying predictions on how automation will steal jobs or replace people show that we aren’t really sure of what the future holds.

The Forbes article “2020 Predictions About Automation And The Future Of Work From Forrester” also takes a look at various Forrester reports examining the dangers of and shifts in automation. 

It  takes into account some trends identified by Gartner and recent reports from UC Berkeley Labor Center, eventually concluding, “We project that the industry likely won’t experience dramatic job loss over the next decade, though many workers may see the content and quality of their jobs shift as technologies are adopted for particular tasks.”

So, where does this leave us?

Moving Forward: AI in Communications & Marketing

As we’ve stated before, artificial intelligence is not yet able to replace human marketers and content creators.

Or, as the Content Marketing Institute put it: To fully replace manual content creation, AI has to be able to think like a human. It has to be able to feel (to have emotions), it needs to form opinions, and it needs to think critically.” 

While the recent advances in automation and personalization are impressive, they are still mostly being used to help human marketers – not replace them. The content being generated by technology is not creative, empathetic work; it’s lower level content, such as reports, that can be generated by NLG tools quickly and easily. 

Data analysis is changing, and this too will impact our industry. For example, as seen in KDNuggets, “Although NLG vendors say their tools augment, not replace, jobs of report writers and analysts, in some cases, NLG tools will reduce the number of people required to generate and analyze data. For business owners, this is great news: they can reassign staff to other jobs, increase their productivity…”

Freeing up human workers to focus on more valuable, less mundane tasks is one of the biggest benefits of automation. 

Paula Barba, chief scientist at Lexalytics, a text analytics software firm, outlines four areas of impact from marketing AI:

  • Reducing production cost – AI is currently too expensive  to use for creating pure content. Instead, the next opportunities could be for jazzing up content post-production (i.e. AI pulls the data, generates the article, then an individual adds in humanity, creativity, depth, etc.)
  • Microtargeting – direct certain messages to certain populations, based on data pulled by AI. AI can also help content marketers evaluate possible reception and reaction to types of content.
  • Research – according to Barba, “The ability to automate understanding of content to distill the main ideas is right in the wheelhouse of AI technology.”
  • Outcome tracking – content marketers can use AI’s lightning fast data-combing and analysis capabilities to find examples of what content is working, as well as specific topics, voices, styles, lengths, and more. 

In short, AI is here to help marketers.

As we examined previously, from helping us understand what content is working, to personalization and microtargeting messages, data pulled by artificial intelligence allows marketers to reach their audiences in a way that was unimaginable years ago.

COVID-19 and post-pandemic automation

The pandemic has caused unthinkable disruption throughout the world.

While people were once bracing themselves for job losses due to automation and frowning upon robots and artificial intelligence, instead we were hit with massive job losses due to the COVID-19 crisis. So now it seems the question we ask is: can automation help us recover? 

We have shifted from worrying that factory workers will lose jobs to robots, to using automation technology to protect those same individuals.

As Forbes reports in their article “Expect More Jobs And More Automation In The Post-COVID-19 Economy.”

“Prior to the crisis, the WEF reported that automation will generate “vast new opportunities for fulfilling people’s potential and aspirations.” Now there is evidence that automation protects humans.  Consider logistics automation: it protects warehousing and delivery workers from being exposed to pathogens. Robots continuously cleaning hospitals avoid imperiling health workers. Digital payments obviate exchanging money, cards, and signatures for those who work in retail.”

If anything, this past year has shown us that it truly is difficult to predict how and what the world needs to move forward effectively and safely.

Looking to the future

We believe AI and automation are the best tools for a content marketer to have in their pocket as the world inches back towards normalcy.

The spotlight on productivity will shine brighter than ever, and artificial intelligence promises us a level of efficiency that humans alone cannot achieve.

And, that’s a wrap!Thanks for reading our series on content marketing, artificial intelligence, and the future of content creation and digital marketing.

Read the entire Convergence or Collision? AI and Content Marketing series here: