The generative AI revolution spurred by ChatGPT looks to be the most disruptive marketing technology to arrive since the iPhone. And as both marketers and communications executives trial AI writing platforms and AI art creation tools, new research from content marketing and PR agency BMV reveals the outlook that many in the industry have been dreading–nearly 7 in 10 content marketers of 1,000 surveyed believe AI will replace writers on their teams over the next five years.
The firm’s newly released 2023 Content Marketing and Generative AI Outlook provides insight into how marketers are thinking about content production and how their content will be discovered in the ChatGPT era, along with their thoughts on the future of the content marketing industry. Although most felt AI would replace some writers,, this group was split on whether AI will replace only junior-level writers (40 percent) or all of their current writers (29 percent).
On the brighter side, another third of marketers (31 percent) believe generative AI platforms will only supplement the work of their writers over the next five years rather than replacing them outright. These marketers that lean towards AI supplementation might be anticipating that content created solely by AI will negatively impact search rankings. In fact, 58 percent of respondents believe AI-produced content will be penalized by Google or Microsoft in the future. Similarly, 83 percent said they are at least slightly concerned about their content’s future discovery and/or search ranking as AI chatbots are embedded into search engines.
“While I fall into the group of marketers that believes AI will supplement rather than directly replace people in the production of branded content and artwork, there is a lot of promise for plugging generative AI into content marketing programs,” said Kyle Austin, managing partner of BMV, in a news release. “The field is evolving at such an astonishing pace that brands and agencies must at least be proactive in exploring how content marketers can work alongside–as well as train–AI tools and agents for their company.”
“The additional uncertainty that AI brings into search results is further reason for brand marketers to focus primarily on creating content that has the highest likelihood to be engaged by their target customers,” added John Eidson, partner and VP of Content at BMV, in the release. “SEO and social platform optimization based on current algorithms and best practices should occur after that while ensuring that content quality isn’t sacrificed for distribution goals.”
Other key findings include:
- Despite macro headwinds, 45 percent of marketers say they have increased their content marketing budget for 2023.
- The most common use of AI tools in content marketing departments today is to identify SEO keywords (37 percent), content ideation (35 percent), and writing content drafts (33 percent). Using AI currently to produce long-form content was further down the list at 29 percent.
- Regarding areas where they are not using AI today but would like to explore the future, writing and editing full-length content (28 percent) was number one for respondents. Converting long-form content to social media (26 percent), and producing audio content/podcasts (25 percent) round out the top three.
- Content marketers are illustrating a continued shift towards visual content, with 36 percent saying that photos/graphics/visuals are the type of content they plan to create the most this year. That is followed by producing short-form videos (35 percent) and email/newsletter content (32 percent).
- This increase in visual storytelling is based on many content marketers being asked to take on the content production of social media assets. In fact, “increasing engagement on social media channels” was the top content marketing priority (38 percent) for respondents, and “increasing the overall amount of content on social media channels” was number three at 36 percent.
- However, there are still unique differences in the types of content B2B vs. B2C brands produce. For instance, nearly 4 in 10 B2B marketers reported that demand and lead-gen blog posts were their main content focus. Comparatively, that didn’t even rank in the top five content plans for B2C marketers (30 percent).
“Today’s AI-written articles still lack quality, human depth, creativity, and an understanding of reader interest. And there are questions on just how much can be improved in some of these areas,” Austin told Bulldog Reporter. “But even with today’s first usable form of generative AI, copywriters, communicators, and content marketers are seeing AI use cases for search term discovery, draft outlining, and getting over the blank page problem. This is where I see a significant opportunity for continued AI support. The field is evolving at such an astonishing pace that brands and agencies must at least be proactive in exploring how PR professionals and content marketers can work alongside and train AI tools and agents for their companies.“
Download the full report here.