My Early Experience with AI Marketing Tools

I’d like to start off with a disclaimer (cheesy, I know). But I really don’t want to come off like I’m ragging on any particular piece of software or any specific tool. My guess is that most generative AI tools were in a similar place when I first had experience with them back in 2021. That experience was with a program called Jasper. Jasper is essentially an AI copywriting tool – of which there are now many. However, Jasper has been around for a while – long before the new OpenAI and ChatGPT-based software we’re seeing explode now.

To say I was underwhelmed would be, well, an understatement.

We had been blogging for this company for almost 4 years when they asked to show us a new tool they had been experimenting with that will “help them do more of their own blogging”. Raise your hand if you’ve heard that before as a marketer… The problem is, they had neither the knowledge, experience, nor internal capacity to blog for themselves. On top of that, we had turned their site into the #1 knowledge source on the internet for their product – so why the hell would they be looking to replace us?!?! (I’m still a tad bitter can you tell?). Anyway, that’s when we first used Jasper.

I kid you not, for their demonstration they had Jasper write a blog (unknowingly to them) that we had already written about on their blog. It whipped it up in about 30 seconds and they were so proud – but something seemed a tad off to me. So I asked them to navigate to the blog we had written on that topic and what do you know. Jasper had ripped it off! Entire sentences – almost entire paragraphs taken essentially verbatim, right from their own blog. Needless to say, they were caught off guard not really knowing how to handle the conundrum we had presented.

That was my first AI marketing tool experience, and it came in 2021. Now, that was a single tool, but I imagine that most other tools had similar issues as no other firms we knew were using them. We heard the same thing from them all: “yeah we checked it out, but the writing quality sucked and it just ended up plagiarizing a ton of content”.

Good to know – nothing to see here… right? RIGHT?!

The Atomic Bomb that Was and IS ChatGPT/Open AI

The only reasonable conclusion I could come to at that point was that, AI tools just weren’t very good and they wouldn’t really be useful until they got A LOT better. Well guess what – they did.

ChatGPT burst onto the scene in late 2022/early 2023 like the advent of the atomic bomb at the end of WWII. All of the sudden, AI had gotten good… like, really freakin good. It was writing entire sequences of code – Javascript, C++, HTML5, JSON, etc. It was coherently answering questions and even showing some creativity as a name/brand generator. The possibilities seemed endless – and it turns out they were.

With their API published and fully available to tap into, there has been an absolute explosion of new marketing tools with the OpenAI models as their foundation. And guess what? Guess who is using GPT-3 (the AI backbone of ChatGPT and OpenAI)? Jasper.

And not just Jasper. There are a seemingly endless array of copywriting tools for marketers to tap into. But you might be asking, “Steve, why are you so focused on copywriting?”. It’s a valid question, but if you’re a marketer yourself, you probably already know. Copywriting is one of the most important, time consuming, impactful, and tedious things that marketing agencies do – especially if they’re into content generation. If these AI tools can even get us 40% – 50% (60%!?!?!?!) of the way to completed copy on anything from a web page to a blog post they have the ability to save us hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars a year in just efficiency gains alone.

The impact could be revolutionary. But there are so many questions that pop into my mind:

  • How good is this technology?
  • Do we need copywriters on staff anymore?
  • How much time could it save my agency?
  • What will this do to my outsourcing costs?
  • Do my customers… need me anymore!??!?!?!

Not so Fast “Marketing Guy” Chasing the “Next Big Thing”

In this series of posts, I’m going to be diving in deeper, searching for answers to those questions above and more that arise throughout this journey. As I write this, I don’t think I have a single client who hasn’t asked me “how are you and your team at Digital 1 using AI?” and/or “how do you think a company like us can use AI?” and/or “how do you think AI is going to change marketing?!?”

Whew. May as well ask me what the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is! Although in that case it’s easy, the answer is 42.

These are big questions the marketing industry is facing, and anyone claiming to know the answer to them is probably not being truthful. However, I can say one thing for certain. It IS going to change marketing IN SOME WAY. I hope you’ll come along with me on this journey.

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