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In AI we trust—it’s the marketers behind the curtain that consumers really fear: New research finds big concerns about brand transparency in AI content

by | Jun 2, 2023 | Public Relations

Much recent research has shown that many consumers have trust issues with generative AI as the tech powers its way through business operations, sweeping many standard practices into virtual obsolescence. 

But we might have gotten it wrong up to this point: new research from visual commerce platform StoryStream shows that people aren’t actually intimidated by the vastness of the tech—it’s the brand and business marketers behind the curtain that aren’t trusted. 

The firm’s global survey found that consumers generally see AI’s positive potential—77 percent of respondents believe that generative AI technology would lead to more personalized and relevant marketing experiences—but a whopping 94 percent want to see more transparency and regulation around the use of generative AI technology in marketing and advertising. 

In AI we trust—it’s the marketers behind the curtain that consumers really fear: New research finds big concerns about brand transparency in generative AI content

Consumers are losing faith in brand-generated content, even in influencers

The researchers found that user-generated content remains the most authentic and trustworthy format of content when making purchase decisions online—and by a wide margin; it’s favored by 45 percent of respondents. Brand-created content is a distant second at 22 percent, while AI-generated content garnered 12 percent, stock imagery and film (8 percent) and, surprisingly, influencer-created content (8 percent)—findings that shed new light on the evolving content marketing landscape, and offer valuable insights for businesses beginning to navigate the realm of AI-powered marketing.

In AI we trust—it’s the marketers behind the curtain that consumers really fear: New research finds big concerns about brand transparency in generative AI content

Consumers are concerned that businesses will turn all their marketing over to AI

The survey also found that a significant majority of respondents (66 percent) believe that generative AI holds the potential to replace human creativity and ingenuity in marketing and advertising. However, opinions on the ethical implications of utilizing generative AI technology for content creation were split, with only 42 percent of respondents firmly supporting its use, 34 percent opposing it, and 24 percent remaining undecided.

And while more than three-quarters of those surveyed think AI will lead to more personalized and relevant experiences, only 51 percent of respondents were comfortable with the idea, with 29 percent being opposed, and 20 percent undecided.

In AI we trust—it’s the marketers behind the curtain that consumers really fear: New research finds big concerns about brand transparency in generative AI content

Transparency and regulation are the key concerns for consumers

A majority of respondents (58 percent) said that they would be more likely to trust a brand that openly disclosed its use of generative AI in its marketing.

“Excitement—and outright astonishment—at the growing capabilities of generative AI technology is understandably huge. But while the industry continues to explore the use cases for this powerful new set of tools, it’s perhaps been a little too easy to forget about the opinions of customers and consumers,” said Alex Vaidya, CEO of StoryStream, in a news release.

In AI we trust—it’s the marketers behind the curtain that consumers really fear: New research finds big concerns about brand transparency in generative AI content

“In this research, we’ve asked consumers—specifically consumers already broadly familiar with the concept of generative AI—what they want to see from brands in their marketing and advertising,” Vaidya added. “And what we’re learning is that understanding consumer expectations and concerns will remain a crucial ingredient for building trust.”

The survey also explored topline consumer perceptions of generative AI technology, revealing that 59 percent of consumers hold a generally positive impression of it. Analysis of different age groups revealed that Gen Z respondents were most likely to have a positive impression (74 percent), while the 55+ age range exhibited the lowest positivity rate at only 35 percent. 

Read more about the research here.

The survey included 600 respondents from the USA, U.K., Canada and Australia, and examined opinions on various aspects of generative AI, ranging from ethical considerations to trust in AI-generated content.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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