AI vs. Human Copywriters: The Lowdown on the Showdown
  • June 1, 2021
  • PPC

AI vs. Human Copywriters: The Lowdown on the Showdown

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay 

Back in the 20th century, a cartoon called “The Jetsons” portrayed a future where hot dinners came from tablets and microwaves, and robots did the housekeeping. Now, in the 21st century, this robotic reality is not a thing (yet), but some of our robot technology is advanced enough to branch out into new areas—including copywriting. So, could AI be your next copywriter for content?

It sounds like science fiction, which, as we well know, preceded science fact. However, it seems that science fact has arrived, and it was here at least a couple of years ago. The American Writers & Artists Institute (AWAI) wrote about this very issue in 2019. They recalled a story where Chase Bank hired Persado, their AI partner, to have AI write marketing copy for them. 

As AWAI points out, disruption to the normal is what we should expect in marketing. To survive, one has to know how to leverage what they do in creative ways. AI might be writing copy for Chase Bank, a brand so big we don’t need to include the “Bank” part. Chase’s copy doesn’t change a lot, and their business flow doesn’t rely on what the copy says as much because the reader already knows the company. Moreover, Chase needs different copy for all kinds of media channels with virtually the same message. However, the smaller, regional bank without a nationwide presence (or a nationwide ad buy in multiple channels) might be less likely to jump on the AI bandwagon. Why? The small bank won’t want AI writing their copy because the copy has a more significant influence on driving the customer behavior they want. As of now, humans still do that kind of writing better than AI.

To read the whole article by AWAI, please click here.

So, we know how people write copy—by putting it off to the last possible second and then scrambling to hit a deadline while praying they catch all the typ0s in time. But how do the robots do it? 

Per the Story League, AI uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to write copy. NLP is one of the parts of AI that focuses on learning how humans use language so computers can communicate in human language instead of computer language. Think of it as the computer learning to talk to us by becoming skilled at reading our words and deriving meaning from them. It’s a lot like you did in middle school English. 

You likely already use technology with NLP. As Story League points out, NLP is what makes Siri and Alexa work. It’s also what makes Google Translate able to translate. However, using it for copywriting is another part of NLP called Natural Language Generation (NLG). This part of AI is also like middle school English class, but this time it’s the writing part. The computer is learning to write in the human language. 

NLG automates copy generation for formulaic and repetitive copy very well. It is the basis of programs like Persado that writes for Chase. However, Story League points out that there is also Quill, an NLG platform that can automate reporting. Another NLG platform is Wordsmith, which converts data into any type of text, allowing the user to create templates for their copywriting needs. 

To read the whole take on NLP and NLG from Story League, please click here.

If you are a person that takes great pride in the copy you produce for your PPC campaigns, take heart. The robots are not going to replace you (yet). However, they do automate some of the less-than-desirable tasks. For example, Digital Agency Maark shows an example of headline writing where the AI copywriters outperformed the human copywriters. Unfortunately, it appears as if the AI copy appeals to the worst in us humans, the click-bait-clicking, falling-for-deceptive-wording side. The numbers don’t lie, apparently, and the AI would know what gets the most clicks. 

So, will a robot write your next PPC campaign? Probably not, unless you write for a national company whose brand awareness is enviable and the brand message is about all that copy needs to mention. However, the fact that computers can learn to read and write more compelling ad copy than humans in some situations does give one pause.

But that’s the bad news. The good news for copywriters is plenty of content and copy needs writing today, by humans and robots. This article, for instance, was written by a human. 

Or was it?

Sources:

Gandia, Ed. “Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Copywriters?” awai.com. September 2019. Web. 28 May 2021. https://www.awai.com/2019/09/will-artificial-intelligence-replace-copywriters/

“Could a copywriter ever be replaced by an AI Robot?” storyleague.com.au. Web. 28 May 2021. https://www.storyleague.com.au/could-a-copywriter-ever-be-replaced-by-an-ai-robot/

Ocker, Jssaon. “AI vs. Human Copywriters.” Maark.com. 12 August 2019. Web. 28 May 2021. https://maark.com/insights/ai-vs-human-copywriters

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by Terri Lively