I’ve debated myself for weeks on whether or not to write this piece. In the end, I won, and that’s why I will share my thoughts behind whether or not you should be using AI based content creation tools like ChatGPT in the context of running your marketing agency.
TL;DR: No. You should not.
I know that many of you will disagree with me. I also know that more of you are skeptical of AI than there are those who want to openly embrace it. So, first, let me say, it’s okay to question trending innovations.
I will take both a philosophical approach and real word application approach to explaining the three primary reasons why I believe you should not use ChatGPT or other AI content creation tools to produce content for your clients or your business’s own marketing efforts.
1. Google Will Not Be So Easily Dethroned.
Considering all that Google is investing into advancing the field of AI, how could Google possible be opposed to content creators using AI tools?
All the way back in 1998, Google was founded under their OG mission statement to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Throughout the 2010’s, Larry Page continued to advocate that Google could become not just the organizer of all existing knowledge, but also the generator of new knowledge – that Google would be the source of truth both past, present, and future.
In 2012 Page stated that, “people shouldn’t have to navigate Google to get stuff done. It should just happen.”
After all, Google is not anti-AI. Year after year at their developer’s conferences, statements are made by leaders that Google’s engineers and developers should continue to advance technology because, in Larry Page’s words, “Technology should do the hard work so people can do the things that make them the happiest in life.” That was stated in 2013.
In fact, Google needs human content creators in order to feed their AI efforts. Google does not exist without human input. Anyone who has known me personally for any length of time will know that this is why I equate Google as a company to the Matrix.
Up to this point, Google has not reported on AI individually on their income statements, but they announced that beginning January 2023, they will break out this line item. It will be terrifyingly interesting to watch how investments into their “Matrix” will continue to unfold.
Information Gain / Helpful Content Google Algorithm Updates to Combat AI Generation Content
That brings me to more recent news that Google’s “Information Gain / Helpful Content” Algorithm Update(s) are swiftly arriving. The short version of the story on these algorithm updates is that scaled content will be flagged by Google; in fact, it’s considered spam according to John Mueller.
Google will penalize entities that leverage AI tools to generate content because those tools are major competitors.
Here’s a great cautionary tale as shared by Whitespark.
This is because Google’s Pursuit for the last 10+ years has been to create their own version of ‘WorldBrain’.
What is WorldBrain?
WorldBrain is a concept originally attributed to H.G. Wells, the science fiction writer of the early to mid-twentieth century, in his book, “WorldBrain.” The premise is that there will be a society (either utopian or dystopian depending on your viewpoint) in the future where all intellectual property is open and shared by all.
Remember the controversy of Google’s Books Scanning Project? This is an effort that Google got a lot of attention for, but continued to pursue and implement. Because of efforts like these, we are already living in an age of the commoditization of intellectual wealth, like H. G. Wells wrote about.
What this boils down to is that quality will beat quantity in your digital footprint, to even greater degrees, as AI advancements continue to disrupt the content and marketing industry. Again, this isn’t because Google is opposed to AI. It’s because Google is fighting to remain on top.
2. The False Promise of Ease
AI based content generation tools have an allure to them because it’s getting harder and harder to keep clients ranking highly in search engines with content because the cat has been out of the bag for years now.
Writing thoughtful content is hard. Finding good writers and managing them is hard. Selling clients on the price of genuinely good content can be hard. Hence why ChatGPT is so appealing. AI content generation tools, however, are offering a devil’s bargain. More on this in a moment.
I first want to draw your attention back to Larry Page’s statement about technology taking on the hard work so that humans can do the work that makes them happiest.
I propose that Page’s utopia based thought is actually a self-defeating effort.
Brain Scientists Discovered There’s a Literal Balance to Pain and Pleasure
Humans are designed to find joy in the struggle, happiness in pain; victory over hardship. Humans through all of time are recording to be happiest when they are in pursuit of hard things. In fact, neurobiologists have discovered the reality of God’s creation that the pleasure and pain centers of the brain are in fact, the same. They are two sides of the same scale. You can read more about that fascinating concept here.
So, we know that you experience pain and pleasure in the same part of the brain. My theory is that as technology advances further and further to “make people’s lives easier,” that finding happiness in life will become harder and harder, and therefore people will be worse off. People won’t be happier as life continues to get “easier” as hard tasks are taken away from humans and given to robots and AI.
That brings me back to the primary topic at hand: deciding if AI should write content, or if humans should.
Writing is Painful, But Also Extremely Rewarding
To all my writers out there, you know there is an experience to writing. To getting into your flow and putting loose and vague thoughts that you’ve been grasping at in the recesses of your mind into a string of comprehensible meaning so that you can express what once was only in your brain to a wider audience. This experience is one that further develops the brain. It’s painful and time-consuming, but more importantly, an extremely rewarding process.
Proponents of using ChatGPT and other AI content generation tools argue that the AI tools are simply helping the true writer and creator along in the process. I can understand the challenges of starting from a blank page – I struggle with the very same issue.
It’s certainly easier to optimize 850 words that have already been written to make the piece better. I have no objection to that premise.
What I object to is the means, because I highly esteem genuine human intellect and the human pursuit of overcoming hard things, because we were designed that way. Regurgitating information based on the works of the masses is simply not genuine human intellect. It is copy-catting.
Copy-catting in content marketing is no new concept and it won’t go away, but just because of that, doesn’t mean content should be copy-catted outside of direct human action with each and every letter.
Further, could not there emerge the precedent that instead of an expectation of producing 1 blog every 2-4 hours, would not your agency not begin to expect that you produce 1 blog every 45 minutes? And 5-10 blogs per day?
I just was speaking to a gentleman last week about this very matter and that’s exactly what his staff is now doing. 5-10 pieces. Per day. Per staff member.
As a matter of job description, that sounds 10 times worse than having to overcome writer’s block.
Content marketers lives won’t be easier. They will become more rapid fire. There will be even less time to think. And there has the potential to be even more content to compete against.
“Ever since [H.G.] Wells, science fiction is always about the possibility that people don’t really matter in the future. And the plot is always about some heroic person that either succeeds or doesn’t succeed in proving that people really matter after all.”Jaron Lanier
3. You Must Maintain Trust.
Humans were created with intuition. (Training intuition has been one of the biggest hurdles in AI development).
Since humans were created with intuition, it’s innate that during our research processes we are conducting a variety of “sniff tests” to validate the authority of the information we are reading or watching.
Sometimes our sniffers don’t work too well because we’ve been thrown off the scent trail. But in a world where the volume of content is already overwhelming and impossible to consume in its entirety, humans are on alert and will be able to better spot publishers that are creating copious amounts of content quickly.
How to Build Trust in Other Ways
Further, the value of the written word is being cheapened (much to my personal chagrin). Video content and other, more visual forms of content, will become more and more trusted mediums. They are already highly trusted, but the degree to which video is trusted over content, I expect, will increase.
Yes, you have DeepFake videos and other AI based video creation “advancements” as well, so you have to be deliberate and intentional to remain focused on the objective at hand: being a trustworthy source. The mediums you use to do that will continue to change. Over time, it may be that in person interactions become much more necessary again. I hope that is the case.
So, Should You Integrate ChatGPT and Other AI Content Generation Tools Into Your Marketing Agency?
Let’s look at specific use cases and evaluate each more individually.
Will Google penalize website that leverage ChatGPT to produce website content?
YES. A resounding yes. Please, for the sake of your domain authority and business’s long term success, DO NOT use ChatGPT or other AI content creation tools to write your content. And, if you’re hiring writers to deliver content on your behalf, you should probably get clear with them on your stance, put it in writing, and hold them accountable to human content creation only.
Similarly, your clients may need the assurance that the content you are creating for them is not being auto-generated and risking the resilience of their online presence and business success. They have families to feed too, after all.
What about using ChatGPT for writing sales and marketing emails?
My opinion is that, since Google uses their AI tools within Gmail as well, global spam filter settings will be adjusted by their teams to identify and classify content written by AI as spam. So, I’d recommend NOT leveraging ChatGPT for your sales and marketing email content either.
What about using ChatGPT as a search engine?
This is the biggest threat that Google faces. While their invisible hand controls a lot of how society functions, what access people have to information, and how people interact with the information they are given, and while ChatGPT and similar tools exist, Google simply cannot control if people choose to go directly to to those AI content amalgamators directly to conduct information searches.
Google is fighting the reality that OpenAI beat them to the punch. Google has been iteratively doing the exact same thing (think SERPs Features like Answer Boxes, Knowledge Graphs, People Also Ask, etc) but it hasn’t satiated some of the market’s demand for easy access to new and interesting information and ideas. Google will certainly continue to work on rolling out more AI based search result page features into their search engine interface. The problem they are combatting is the threat of losing market share in the meantime.
Ultimately, Google will continue to produce their own version of ChatGPT as they work to also thwart the entrance of these competitors in the AI space.
What about using ChatGPT for internal messages, memo, announcements, presentations, etc.
Honestly, I don’t foresee massive negative consequences to these applications EXCEPT for those potential consequences that would occur at an interpersonal level and in your own personal development.
The caveat to that is that managers need to be astute as to who the real innovators and thoughtful team members are, rather than who the “less-effort-the-better” inclined team members are when considering raises and growth paths.
So, those are my thoughts, for now. I’ll continue watching how the use of AI in agencies plays out, but I want to encourage all creators out there to remember where your source of creativity comes from. (Hint: It’s not from within you.)
Your source of creativity is directly from your Creator, because humans are made in His image. Don’t be so quick to sell your creative spirit so quickly to a world spinning faster and faster, and that won’t be slowing down.
Recognize the value of the creative process and work to help team members and clients to see the value of the creative process and your creative outputs as well. Your work matters. You matter.
Building a successful marketing agency takes grit, a focus on your value, and sometimes a *loving* kick in the pants.
Needing an ally as you achieve your long-term goals?
I’d be happy to help.