AI & the Devaluation of Marketing Copy


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Can AI write marketing copy?  Even the most hardened AI skeptic would have to admit: yes, it can. 

The follow-on question, naturally, is whether AI-generated copy is any good.  Today, that would appear to depend on 1) who’s at the controls, and 2) what kind of copy AI is writing. 

To complicate matters further, AI’s capabilities in the marketing domain are evolving at a dizzying pace.  Any opinion that you or I might have today on the limits of AI’s writing proficiency will probably be sorely tested in the months and years to come.

For now, let’s just pretend to agree that AI can write copy.  Now, let’s ask: should it?

It’s an important question because, based on recent observations, there seems to be an innate trust in AI’s writing ability that is belied by the work product on evidence.  Furthermore, that faith and trust is motivated by one word: efficiency.

One marketing exec recently told a member of our team that it was her aim to drive the cost of creative to zero.  I’ve had a marketing manager tell me that he and one colleague churn out copy for sixty (60) email campaigns a quarter using ChatGPT.  (I’ve seen the emails.  They’re abysmal.)

AI has caused marketing creative, and copywriting in particular, to become devalued and commoditized.  Never mind the quality of the work product or the results it produces.  It’s as if these companies were producing widgets, not copy decks. The mere fact that an AI tool can spit out a Webinar invitation or a landing page with minimal input and effort is, apparently, good enough. 

Efficiency is trumping quality.  And that’s alarming.

None of this is to say that AI can’t write good copy in the right hands, or with the right tool, for the right application, or won’t be able to at some time in the very near future.  But please don’t trust a marketing intern and ChatGPT to do the same job as a seasoned copywriter simply because doing so saves time and money.  Quality, and the results it generates, has to count for something.  If you write an email for a tenth of the cost and generate a tenth of the results, have you saved anything?

As a marketer (and sometimes copywriter) of thirty years, I am genuinely excited by AI and its potential for ideation and distillation and research and its ability to free creative professionals from the more mundane parts of their profession.  We all have to learn to leverage AI.  The genie has left the bottle.

I would also like to believe that we’re at the front edge of some massive adoption curve where people are rushing to use AI for any and all applications, and that there will be a “leveling-off” as we learn when and where and how it can be best leveraged and where the human touch still matters.

Until then, tread carefully.  The marketing writer has not become irrelevant.  Savings and efficiency are immaterial if quality and results suffer.  Embrace the promise of AI but don’t pretend that writing, and producing good marketing creative more generally, is a craft and not just an assembly line.

A human being wrote this article.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Howard Sewell
Howard has worked in marketing for 25+ years, and is president of Spear Marketing Group, a full-service B2B marketing agency. Howard is a frequent speaker and contributor to marketing publications on topics that include demand generation, digital marketing, ABM, and marketing technology.


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