I was going to write about Google’s latest nofollow link changes, when a great question came in…
“Hey Heather, I read that Chase hired a AI (artificial intelligence) company. The machine-generated copy outperformed human-written copy. Should I worry? Is SEO copywriting next?”
Yup, it’s true that Chase locked down a five-year deal with Persado, an AI content company.
Persado’s Google ad copy says the company “reinvents marketing creative by applying mathematical certainty to words.” When you click on Persado’s home page, a big ol’ subheadline screams, “The future of marketing success is through the power of words.”
(LOL, really? I had no idea.)
Snark aside, I’ve been hearing AI-themed rumblings for a while. After all, many of us already fight for higher pay and a seat at the marketing table. If AI can take our copywriting jobs — well, we may as well work at Starbucks for free coffee and good benefits.
I see why AI can outperform humans in limited ways. For instance, Chase hired Persado to create ad content, which is normally short, sweet and very focused. AI could cycle through a multitude of copy variations faster than a human writer, learn what works, and create a super-clickable ad.
And, it worked. In Chase’s case, some of their AI-created ads saw twice the clicks as ads created by humans.
What’s more, AI doesn’t require insurance, hand-holding or a salary. It will never miss a deadline or force you to listen to its bad date story.
It seems easier. And cheaper. I get it.
But (because there’s always a but…)
Does this mean that AI can eventually replace SEO writers?
No, and here’s why…
Behind every blog post, sales page and skyscraper guide, is a smiling, imperfect human.
We’re the ones who create the brand voice. We’re the ones that develop the strategy. We’re the ones who can create snarky responses on the fly (for instance, the person who handles Wendy’s Twitter account is a genius.)
Even Alibaba, which has its own AI tool, acknowledged that “human creativity is the cornerstone for the machine.”
AI can do simple tasks (like writing ad copy.) But anything more complex? Nope. Not yet.
Not until we’re bowing to our robot overlords, that is. :)
In fact, Barry Feldman (who coined the term “artificial stupidity”) checked out an AI content farm so he could evaluate the content quality.
Yes, their price was dirt-cheap — imagine writing 50 articles for $45. Yet, the copy was…dreadful. For instance:
“Numerous fruits are called thus because they are called this way from several blooms.”
Yup, imagine sporting that copy on your site. Suddenly, $45 for 50 articles doesn’t seem like a deal anymore.
OK, but what about SEO writing?
SEO copy seems like it would be an easy AI target. After all, it’s just shoving keyphrases into content, right?
(That was a trick question; of COURSE it’s more than that!)
This reminds me of the bad-ol’ days of SEO writing when “spinning” content was the norm. Specialized software could change out some keyphrases, tweak some wording, and create multiple versions of the page.
Was the copy good? No. Did it follow grammar rules? Very loosely. It looked like what it was — machine-generated content.
To bring this into the current day, think about how many times the Yoast plug-in told you that you didn’t use your main keyphrase enough times — when, in fact, your content positions just fine.
Software and machine learning are great for simple tasks. Anything more than that, you’re pushing its limitations. In a bad way.
STILL don’t believe me? The Whopper lives in a bun mansion. Just like you!
What am I talking about? Burger King created ads based on AI-generated content. Watching their commercials made me laugh so hard, I HAD to stop writing about links and share this stuff with you.
Here are some of the best lines:
“Tastes like bird” (not sure if that’s a benefit statement or a warning.)
“Bed of lettuce for you to sleep on” (and now I understand what I need to cure my insomnia — a bed of lettuce!)
“Burger King’s chicken is the new potato.” (Um…what?)
Sure, their commercials are funny and make me like Burger King a bit more — but, they also drive home a point.
In the words of Marcelo Pascoa, Burger King’s global head of brand marketing, “Artificial intelligence is not a substitute for a great creative idea coming from a real person.”
And there you go.
AI writing can handle “easy” tasks — but companies need creative people like you to develop great copy that connects with their reader and entices them to take the next action step.
I may have laughed at the Burger King ad, but I didn’t run out and buy a Whopper because it “tasted like bird.”
(Need a good laugh? Check out these commercials. You’ll be chuckling for a long time.)
I’m not saying that AI content creation isn’t a threat to some writers and agencies. If you specialize in PPC ad writing or Facebook ads — and you don’t create strategy or create other types of content — you may want to expand your skill set.
But, for now, we’re probably safe.
As long as I can sleep on a bed of lettuce, life is happy.
(And, wow, this was WAY more fun to write about than nofollow links!)
***Update: Google said in 2022 that they don’t want your machine-generated content.
What do you think?
Are you ready to bow down to your AI overlords? Does AI writing freak you out? Leave a comment and let me know.