AI copywriting isn’t a threat, it’s an advantage 

Word-crunching machines won't necessarily put the crunch on the human element of writing, argues SKMG communications consultant Sam Somers.

AI and digital writing tools are not here to take our jobs. It doesn’t take a communications professional to identify that 95% of headlines generated by an AI app are completely irrelevant, nor does it take years of honing your marketing skills to know whether you’re talking to a human or computer online. What does require communications expertise, and likely always will, is the ability to navigate the tools put in front of us to deliver better work. 

In my time spent scrolling feeds in isolation over the work break, it was difficult not to notice the increase in the number of social ads boasting claims like “A robot wrote this ad!” and “AI is the author of this”. So splendidly oblivious, you’d almost swear we weren’t staring down the barrel of a dystopian future. With increasing emphasis placed on digital writing tools, we need to proceed with caution when it comes to putting all our trust in AI-generated writing. 

AI and computer-generated copy isn’t completely new, but it isn’t exactly old either. Recent developments in language models mean we now have an abundance of software platforms with the ability to form cohesive, meaningful sentences and words that meet the brief, all in record time. Judging by the sales pitch of these platforms, this article itself could well be written by a machine (maybe it is?).  

In a digital-first world, it’s fair to feel nervous about whether AI may finally take language – the last sacred thing we have – away from us (a greedy move considering computers already have binary, Go, C and plenty more to themselves). Will the purchase funnel be managed by a pre-programmed script? Will consumer grievances be managed by an AI spokesperson? 

Last year, the news broke that marketing technology platform Metigy has partnered with the freelancer platform Fiverr to deliver digital AI-powered services. On their service list is copywriting. In agency land, Dentsu Aegis globally developed its own in-house AI writing program called Project Leo in 2019. It has since been successfully using it to write Google Search Ads, among other things. More recently, Jarvis.ai has made a lot of noise on socials and now boasts a premium array of clients including Google, Airbnb and IBM.  

There are a few reasons why more industry voices aren’t talking about the power of AI in creative, including in writing. As mentioned, consensus remains that people are scared computers will inevitably “take our jobs”, but there’s also the question of ego: professionals probably don’t want to admit they let a computer do work that should take hours, or that their creative genius is computer-assisted. There is also the issue that machines can only lean on what’s worked before. AI systems are trained on historical and present data and have no way of forward thinking, of using present information that can shape the future of society – only humans can do that.  

AI-powered copy has great potential for formulaic writing work – social copy is short, punchy and uses keywords to get the message across. PR professionals working on sports results or play-by-plays could make great use of it: it’s lengthy, formula-driven work done to a time limit. Hey, even media releases are formulaic enough to validate assistance, so long as there’s expert refinement. These types of copy can have their foundations written by AI; the real work is getting a human to come and put the finishing touches on it. 

AI, in its broadest sense, is not a replacement but an enhancement. A practicality play to help us face the challenges brought about by a digital economy. It’s the answer to the work smarter, not harder inspo line that’s been ingrained into office culture for decades. But writing comes from lived human experiences. That’s a key reason why readers want to read what writers write. With that in mind, using AI data to make more informed decisions makes complete sense. What will separate the good experiences from the bad is how adept communications professionals are at drawing on these tools to deliver new, smarter and refreshed human experiences.  

Sam Somers is a communications consultant at SKMG.


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