What developments in AI means for the creator economy and how to stand out amongst the noise

May 13, 2024
Emmy Liederman
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What do Ryan Reynolds, Martini, Nestle, and McDonald’s have in common? They’ve all used the latest and greatest technology trends to create, support, or distribute campaigns.

The technology? Artificial Intelligence (AI).

If you’ve been hanging out in social media marketing communities over the past few months, you already know AI is all anyone is talking about.

Marketers are experimenting with AI tools to speed up content production. Some are nailing it. Others are failing.

This begs the questions: how are brands using AI and what place does AI have in marketing strategy?

Brands using AI in their marketing and advertising

Before diving too deep into how marketers can use AI (and how they shouldn’t), here’s a quick look at some campaigns created with the help of AI.

1. Mint Mobile

Ryan Reynolds came in hot with an ad for Mint Mobile days after ChatGPT (OpenAI’s language generating tool) launched. 

Reynold’s creative team asked ChatGPT to write an ad in Ryan Reynolds voice, using a joke, a swear word, and mention of Mint Mobile’s ongoing promotion.

In this particular instance, ChatGPT nailed it (and even included two swear words). Reynold’s described the ad ChatGPT returned as “eerie” and “mildly terrifying,” because of how spot on the ad was.

While ChatGPT crushed the script, it’s essential to note the ad wouldn’t be the same without the creative work of the human advertising team.

The creative team had to put their heads together and input the right information into ChatGPT’s prompt. They also leveraged influencer marketing to help the campaign go viral. 

The takeaway? AI won’t do all the hard work for you. Success with AI depends on your team’s ability to strategize, feed prompts, and pull off the creative execution of what AI produces.

2. McDonald’s 

Mint Mobile isn’t the only enterprise to use AI to enhance an ad campaign. The beloved double-arch brand, McDonald’s also dashed into the AI foray.

McDonald’s launched a campaign around Lunar New Year, using neural radiance fields (NeRF) technology—an AI tool that helped McDonald’s create a 3D scene.

While AI created cool 3D imagery, the McDonald’s creative team created all the context around the 3D imagery.

McDonald’s also partnered with the digital content creator Karen X Cheng to level up the ad thematically. Cheng is a Chinese American creator known for her use of AI and AR in her viral content, making her the perfect fit for the ad’s main character.

In a press release, McDonald’s explains its approach. “Our fans live at the intersection of innovation and culture and that’s where McDonald’s needs to meet them,” said Elizabeth Campbell.

McDonald’s creative team understands trends.They understand AI is at the forefront of marketing and creation right now. What’s more, they understand how to infuse AI tools into its content in a way that resonates with younger fans.

3. Heinz

Heinz is another brand using Open AI’s Dall-E 2 in a unique way to promote a powerful message.

Heinz didn’t use the Dall-E 2 art generation tool to create new branded imagery. It used the tool to comment on the omnipresent dominance of the Heinz brand in the condiment market.

How? Dall-E 2 works by evaluating millions of images posted across the web. In this case, Dall-E 2 evaluated millions of ketchup images.

When Heinz asked the tool to create images of “ketchup,” nearly all the images (no matter how wonky they were) returned some version of the Heinz trademark.

The Heinz creative team went to work and turned this into a creative message. The message? Even AI knows ketchup is Heinz (as is proven by it returning bottles that look very similar to Heinz bottles).

Without the human creative team guiding the messaging of the ad, it’s doubtful the AI experiment would have worked.

Should you try AI?

With impressive advancements in AI, developers, marketers, and advertisers have been asking one pressing (and upsetting) question.

The question? “Will AI replace my job?”

The answer is two-fold. First, AI likely won’t replace your job if you rely on it to replace the work you do. In other words, what AI generates shouldn’t be the final product you publish. Experts agree:

Additionally, the three creative campaigns listed above support this idea. Had McDonald’s, Mint Mobile, or Heinz simply published the AI content, it would have lacked the context and creativity humans provide.

Here’s how the writers at Raisin Bread put it:

“It seems AI is coming for human jobs, but not in the way we imagined. And, at least in big tech, a recession-proof job might not be as stabilizing as an AI-proof job. Luckily for marketers, it seems creativity falls into the latter category—keep generating those savvy, revenue-rich campaigns.”

That being said, when people use AI as a tool to supplement human work (i.e., to ideate, enhance creativity, and generate content faster), it has the potential to improve campaigns and speed up production.

I like how Caraline Wabara and Sofiia Shvets put it on Twitter:

“My future role is Creator Director for AI. Someone said, ‘AI won’t replace your job but someone using the AI will,’” says Wabara.

Shvets adds, “In the last 24 hours, I used ChatGPT for rephrasing my sales messages, title brainstorming for our new website, conducting job descriptions for [a] marketing role, healthy keto recipes for my air fryer, [and] SD prompting. AI will not replace jobs, but will replace those not leveraging it.”

If people rely on AI to replace the work they do, they’ll fail. AI doesn’t have the context, style, nuance, or enough understanding of your audience to create campaigns without support. But people who learn how to leverage AI properly to support creativity will see gains.

Not only should you try AI, but it may eventually become a requirement of future creative jobs.

How using AI can help or hinder creative campaigns

AI technology is new and marketers are still learning the ropes of how to leverage AI to improve campaign results. As such, AI is still a bit of a gamble. This is especially true considering how Big Bois, like Google, have explicitly stated AI-generated content is against guidelines

While Google states it will penalize AI-generated content, there’s little evidence right now of how this works, whether or not it can accurately detect AI-generated content, or if it’s really that much of an SEO threat.

Additionally, while we’ve seen anecdotal evidence of dropped rankings from the likes of people like Niel Patel, we haven’t seen concrete examples of sites that have been blacklisted for AI content.

In response to this tweet, Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, even stated the following:

"We haven't said AI content is bad. We've said pretty clearly, content written primarily for search engines rather than humans is the issue. That's what we're focused on. If someone fires up 100 humans to write content just to rank, or fires up a spinner, or an AI, same issue.”

Like I said, it’s a gamble. But regardless of the current AI debate, there are some obvious ways to use AI that can help your campaign and that can potentially hinder your campaign. Let’s talk about them.

How to use AI to help your marketing & advertising efforts

1. Use it to ideate

I don’t know about you, but the first place I go when researching ideas for a piece of new content is Google. Part of my process is to learn what topics have already been covered, what’s ranking, and what’s trending. My Google research shows me where the gaps are and what angle I can take to add to the conversation.

Now, tools like ChatGPT now provide an alternative for Google research. The NY Times even recently reported Google called a “code red” with the release of this new technology as it has potential to replace Google. Additionally, Google layed off 12,000 employees as it works on its own AI-powered answer to ChatGPT.

While ChatGPT does a stellar job of returning results instantaneously, it’s essential to note that the information isn’t always accurate—or updated.

For now, ChatGPT doesn’t hold a candle to search engines, and probably isn’t the best in-depth research tool, but it can (and should) be used for ideating.
David Buck says AI is a great tool for generating “ideas, outlining, finding keywords, and finding fresh angles.”

Filipa Canelas is one example of an excellent marketer who uses ChatGPT to generate ideas. Specifically, she uses it to create LinkedIn hooks. Instead of spending hours thinking of what will work, she shares a quick process that creates 50+ ideas in minutes.

2. Supplement your content with interesting imagery

I asked the team at SEO Arcade to share their thoughts about using AI in marketing. 

I loved what they said: “If you don't fall into the trap of thinking it's an endless goldmine to exploit, there's some unique value you can deliver with AI.”

So, what unique value did the SEO Arcade team get from their experiment with AI? The team leveraged Midjourney, Play.ht, and D-ID to make a unique header, supporting images, and videos for their SEO and content newsletter. 

Here’s a quick look at one of their AI-generated videos:

The best part of this experiment? Instead of spending hours on video design and production for a newsletter, it took SEO Arcade 5 minutes. People were “blown away” by the quality and the images made the newsletter more interesting.

3. Manage mundane tasks with AI automation capabilities

There are two sides to the marketing success coin. One side of the coin is the creative side. Marketing creatives find ways to take proven data and turn it into creative assets that resonate with an audience. 

It’s hard for a machine to accomplish creative tasks for several reasons. It doesn’t actually have a brain (even though it kinda seems like it does). It can’t tell the stories that live inside your head. It can’t have new conversations with subject matter experts. Humans can do all of this.

The other side of the marketing coin is the numbers side. This includes anything from capturing and analyzing data to managing tasks and posting assets. Marketers already use automation tools to speed up these tasks. AI is a great tool for helping marketers speed up the mundane tasks.

“[With the help of AI], you can create action plans, checklists, and more. It’s like having a personal marketing assistant,” says Fuse Travels on Twitter.

But that’s not all. If a task can be analyzed and automated, AI can most likely do it for you.

B2B SaaS content marketer, Saloni Ordia, gives several excellent examples of how to put this into practice:

“Social Media Management. AI can automate routine tasks such as scheduling posts, responding to comments and messages, and generating reports, freeing time and resources for creative content creation. Improved Customer Experience. It can help build customer loyalty and brand recognition by creating super-personalized, engaging customer experiences, such as chatbots and voice-activated devices. Targeted Messaging. It analyzes consumer data to find which messages resonate most with a TA, allowing marketers to craft more effective campaigns.”

As AI continues to improve, many of these mundane tasks will be highly easy to automate.

How relying on AI in your campaigns can hinder your marketing efforts

1. Decrease the quality of writing

As mentioned above, AI has many helpful uses. Writing isn’t one of them. 

Even if you fine-tune your prompt, AI typically returns results that are bland, redundant, and full of noise. Adina Levin calls it “error-ridden fluff.”

AI also doesn’t have the ability to do one thing every writer does when producing an article—writing directly to a specific audience with expertise, authority, and unique examples. When you rely on AI to write, AI returns content that speaks to everybody—and, therefore, no one.

Furthermore, everything that makes a piece of writing excellent (for now) must be completed and written into the AI results by a human.

This includes:

  • Interviewing and adding expert quotes
  • Adding new and relevant data
  • Providing a unique and fresh perspective on hot trends
  • Supplementing articles with original research
  • Writing with style

Freelance Writer, Tina Donati, experimented with using AI to write an article. The results were fantastic—but there was one catch. She rewrote 90% of the article.

By all means, use AI to ideate and outline. But when it comes to writing the article—leave it to a trained writer.

This being said, if you’re stuck on something, you can ask AI to provide content suggestions to improve a particular paragraph. Sometimes it’s garbage. Sometimes it’s gold. The important thing? Remember it’s a tool to supplement you. You’re not the tool to supplement it.

2. You risk breaching audience trust

One of the main problems with AI lies in how people choose to use AI. In other words, people can now create and publish content in the blink of an eye.

While it makes you feel somewhat god-like, it’s also essential to remember that an abundance of content doesn’t mean an increase in quality content.

And your customers and content consumers pay attention to your brand because you’re giving them expert insight and high-quality content.

If your marketing content suddenly sees an increase in production and a dip in quality, rest assured you’ll lose your audience.

Adobe’s 2022 Trust Report found 57% of consumers "would stop buying from a brand following a breach in trust." It’s simply not worth the risk.

3. You risk inaccuracy

Marketing agency board member, Craig Freeman, says people should use AI in their campaigns, but must use it for the right reasons. 

“It can’t do your job for you. It can’t create truly unique and powerful content. It can contribute ideas, help spot content gaps, and shortcut research,” says Freeman.

Freeman is right on both accords. You can leverage AI to improve your processes, but you can’t expect AI to replace your job. 

Additionally, there are currently no safeguards on AI. AI isn’t fact checking. AI isn’t reporting where it gets its information. And, there aren’t any tools in place that compare AI results to real data.

AI can give ideas, but it’s also essential to be the gatekeeper. Otherwise, you risk publishing information or building a campaign around ideas that are false. 

AI is a tool, not a replacement

Regardless of if you’re ready for it or not, AI is here and it’s making its way into marketing. The best marketers will stay on top of AI trends and learn how to leverage it to speed up production, manage the mundane, and generate ideas you may have never considered.

The critical takeaway for marketers: AI is a tool and should be used as such. As soon as you use it as a replacement, quality will decrease and consumers will write your content off as spam.

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