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If you can be replaced by a ten word AI prompt, you might have bigger issues anyway

Liam Jacklin

June 13, 2024

Five things I learned about the future of AI at DigiMarCon Midwest which matter to all marketers 

A couple of weeks ago I attended DigiMarCon Midwest in Chicago. It’ll come as no surprise that pretty much every conversation revolved around the impacts (potential and real) of AI in marketing.

This article may be slightly scattergun as, in truth, it’s an amalgamation of a bunch of points that stuck with me from the sessions, butI'd love to hear your reactions/thoughts too!

Should AI use always be declared?

Many people in the marketing industry and broader society are talking about the need to tag content as being AI derived. In my world of demand generation, where we’re looking to engage audiences in the most effective way possible, this is likely to throw up a whole heap of questions. If something is labelled as AI derived, is it automatically seen as less trustworthy by the audience? Does it matter if it’s AI derived as long as it's relevant, we don’t by default tag things as having been photo shopped, for example? Will audiences be even more overwhelmed than ever by content as AI provides a route to produce more content, more quickly? 

My general feeling is that, over time, most people’s default assumption will be that AI has been involved and, as such, there is no real need to flag it.  Just as I assume any marketing imagery I see today has been touched up or manipulated in some way. It doesn’t make the imagery any less powerful or relevant.

For the avoidance of doubt and as will be obvious from my terrible grammar and long sentences (hopefully no spelling mistakes) I have not used AI to write this!

If you can be replaced by a ten word AI prompt, you might have bigger issues anyway

There is much hand-wringing about how many jobs AI might automate or make redundant in marketing and there’s no doubt in my mind that, over time, the likelihood is that it will be significant numbers. In the here and now though, the reality is that if your job can be replaced by a simple instruction to an AI engine, then chances are, you probably weren’t bringing value to the task in hand! As my colleague Dan Sands likes to say about the near term, AI won’t take your job, but a human with AI, will. In other words AI won’t necessarily take your job, but it will change it, and you need to be able to adapt to that reality fast!

Open AI vs Closed AI

With the pace of change we’ve already seen and the awakening of politicians and legislators around the world to the impacts that AI is bringing (real and perceived), is there a chance that generative AI platforms trained on large amounts of publicly available data may go bankrupt through multiple lawsuits about use of data and protection of IP before they ever really reach mainstream adoption? There are at least 30 bills before congress in the US related to AI, none of which will get passed due to the upcoming Presidential election, but you can see the potential tidal wave of regulation and red tape that may be coming towards these operators. How do they deal with it? How do client organisations deal with it? How do agencies like ours deal with it? There are already many big marketing groups restricting teams' access to these tools for fear of breaching client confidentiality agreements and losing ownership of IP. Recent announcements that Apple is to integrate ChatGPT into its products, I'm sure, has internal compliance teams nervous about employees using customer data/IP via personal devices without realising that some data will leave their devices to allow more compute intensive tasks

AI could create the next Harry Potter novel, but it couldn’t create the first

AI is built around patterns and logic, it is not capable of genuine ‘thought’ (at the moment anyway 🙂). New creative ideas and approaches to challenges will need to start in the brains of us humans. AI can provide all sorts of tools to provide inspiration, thought starters, or acceleration of ideas, but it can’t come up with something completely original. As marketers we should keep that front of mind and make sure we’re trying to provide the original thinking that will create success for our business, clients and customers.

You know about SEO, now meet AIO

Your content is only as valuable as it is visible. With changes in the way search engines deal with our enquiries there will be an increasing need to ensure that content is built in such a way that it’s easily assimilated as part of AI search responses. Platforms like Perplexity, Bing’s co-pilot, Google’s AI Overviews (which of course had some high profile bumps in the road recently), all give users the opportunity to glean information without ever having to visit your website. 

From a demand gen perspective this feels to me one of the most interesting trends that brands will have to adapt to. If you’re gating content it’s harder to be picked up by AI. If users can get the answers without visiting your pages, it’s harder to gain opt-ins and nurture leads. This shift in how information is assembled will undoubtedly disrupt the digital buyer journey and brands should be thinking now about how they handle that.

Credits

As already mentioned, this is a somewhat random assembly of thoughts based on several presentations so it’s hard for me to directly credit quotes, but i would like to namecheck, Andy Crestodina, Orbit Media Studio, Scott Fenstermaker, Riskonnect and Scott Dayton, Dasein Strategy who provided the fodder for my brain and were incredibly engaging speakers. If you don’t follow them already, you should.

And just for some fun, I've asked ChatGPT to summarise everything above, in 150 words.

As AI becomes integral to marketing, the necessity of tagging AI-derived content is debated, with trends suggesting such disclosures may eventually be deemed unnecessary. The concern that AI could replace marketing roles underestimates the irreplaceable value of human creativity and strategic insight. The emergence of Open AI platforms introduces potential regulatory and litigation challenges, highlighting the importance of navigating intellectual property and confidentiality issues. Despite AI's efficiency in pattern recognition, it cannot supplant the human creativity essential for marketing breakthroughs. The development of AI in search engines prompts a reevaluation of content strategies to ensure visibility in AI-mediated searches. For marketing leaders, the key lies in leveraging AI for innovation while preserving the unique human elements that drive marketing success. Embracing AI as a complementary tool, rather than a threat, will be crucial in this evolving digital landscape.

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