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Is ChatGPT just a shiny new toy or the end of marketing as we know it?

Is ChatGPT just a shiny new toy or the end of marketing as we know it?


Simon Thorne, MD Europe, Mediaocean

As we approach the halfway point of the year, it seems the early proclamation of 2023 as ‘the year of AI’ was accurate. Since the launch of ChatGPT in November, you can barely scroll through the news or your social media channels without seeing the latest opinion on what AI means for society, work, or its ongoing issues around data privacy. And the more we talk about it, the more widespread it becomes, with hundreds of new AI-powered tools being released every week, including Google’s own generative AI, Bard. But with the dust starting to settle after an explosive first six months, how can ChatGPT actually be put to use for marketing and advertising teams, and should we be employing it at all? In short, to bot or not to [chat]bot?

From robot to revolutionary: conversational AI

To be sure, elements of ChatGPT have been in use for years. We’ve all seen the pop-up chatbots used by retailers and tech vendors, whereby multiple-choice response options allow an AI bot to ‘solve’ issues around customer service or navigation. And we’ve been talking to smart speakers for years now with prompts like ‘OK Google,’ ‘Hey ‘Siri,’ and ‘Alexa.’ 

ChatGPT plays a similar role as a virtual assistant that uses natural language processing (NLP) to create bespoke responses that are based on data scraped from the internet. But having been trained by OpenAI on a dataset of 175 billion parameters, ChatGPT knows a little more than a traditional chatbot. And it has been put to use in solving a wide variety of tasks from composing emails, essays, contracts, and even computer code to build websites.

Getting the job done faster

So, how can ChatGPT, or any other AI chatbot, streamline the daily life of a marketer? Let’s say you’re asked to develop a long-form piece of content for a new product release, which should be backed up with relevant industry sources. AI language tools can vastly reduce research time, acting as a more succinct search engine to select and compile relevant content from various sources. And if some of the information the marketer needs is buried in a dense, multiple-page report, ChatGPT can compile this content into a short summary. 

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Next, as you start to create and write up the content, you can use ChatGPT to break up or edit sections that are too long or formal, or to inject humour. AI chatbots are also able to take longer content and turn it into shorter formats such as social captions, ads, and emails. With all the content now ready to be posted, you can use ChatGPT to optimise copy for SEO by finding synonyms for keywords, clustering content, and structuring landing pages. All this doesn’t even touch on applications like staff training, answering customer service requests, and creating code for web developers. Using ChatGPT or its counterparts to augment one or multiple stages of the marketing funnel can enhance the customer experience, save time, and help you understand your customers better.

The need for human connection and creativity

Despite its time-saving capabilities, ChatGPT has some marketers seriously worried about the future of the industry and job security. But while AI has come on leaps and bounds in its ability to generate text and images, we’re far from being replaced by bots. ChatGPT relies on well-worded, clear, and often multiple prompts from its user in order to get the most accurate and relevant output – not to mention, the common sense required to validate accuracy and assess tone. While the jobs of marketers may shift and evolve, new opportunities such as prompt engineering are already evident. 

ChatGPT’s ability only to create responses based on the information it was trained on opens up a larger risk of misinformation, bias, and outdated responses, all of which signal a need for thorough human vetting. But beyond checking for problematic content, human marketers possess creative qualities that ChatGPT simply cannot replace. Unable to create truly original thoughts or base work on lived experiences, AI chatbots currently lack the ability to build authentic connections with customers. Take influencer marketing, which is now one of the most popular and effective forms of digital marketing. These campaigns thrive on human connection and the relationship that an influencer has with their followers, something ChatGPT cannot replicate. 

Get ahead to stay ahead

If marketers can master ChatGPT and other AI chatbots to help spark creativity and improve human connections with customers, there will be no danger of AI overlords taking over the entire industry. As we’ve learnt through past periods of technological change, the worst thing we can do is bury our heads in the sand and deny the change that’s coming. While we concentrate on using the tool to elevate our creative processes, only time will tell how extensively AI will transform our lives. 

So, is ChatGPT just a shiny new toy or the end of marketing as we know it? The answer is somewhere in the middle. I thought about posing this question to ChatGPT itself, but it can’t predict the future. For now, at least.


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