The rise of AI in content marketing

August 15, 2016

Trends

By Anu Ramani

Anu Ramani is a specialist in international B2B communications.

More articles from Anu Ramani

A few years ago, Isoline published a blog about the need for communications firms to reinvent themselves in order to stay relevant in the age of AI.

One of the Isoline team had a conversation around five years ago that made them think about the agency’s future – a dear friend whose job keeps him in touch with cutting-edge technologies had recently read an industry report “an inch thick” that had been entirely generated by machine intelligence, with a human involved only in last-stage editing. “You could literally not make out it was machine-generated,” he insisted, leaving Isoline wondering whether the one-year old content firm (at the time) was obsolete even as it learns to walk.

This trend wasn’t that far in the future, really: in 2016, media outlets such as the Washington Post were using homegrown software to automatically produce hundreds of real-time news reports about the Rio Olympics for its website as well as Twitter account. It was a testament to the confidence of the Post in this technology that these articles were appearing without human intervention or approval. Companies such as Narrative Science and Automated Insights also offer this service full-time to media outlets and others.

The blurb on the Automated Insights home page reads: “technology that transforms data into clear, human-sounding narratives – for any industry and application.” That’s exactly what content marketers produce on a daily basis. Understandably, panic soon ensued but there must be a positive side, right?

So, if the machines are taking over our jobs, how can we move higher up the value chain?

The AI projection

In 2016, content marketing needed to move away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach and move towards a more personalised content experience.  A few key things they could consider include:

  • Working harder at understanding the product and presenting it creatively and accessibly – whether through the written word, visually or through video.
  • Adding value to the marketing process through intelligent, qualified content that resonates with the needs and preferences of target audiences around the world.
  • Embracing AI to produce the routine articles, reports, databases, updates and other routine tasks that make up many of our hours at work.

If we don’t, we might just find ourselves replaced by robots!

But, how far has AI in the communications sector really come since 2016?

The AI reality

The good news is, content marketers haven’t been replaced by robots – yet… In fact, the content marketing industry in particular has grown significantly over the last 18 months. With less meetings and networking able to take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, digital communications have become more critical than ever before as companies redistribute budget to ensure business continuity.

However, AI is still a pressing and prevalent topic within the communications industry as a whole, and steps are being taken to make further integration a reality – but not for the reasons originally stated above. Currently, AI is helping content marketers to automate repetitive tasks such as research, analysis and databases. This is a good thing. AI is helping to alleviate the busywork that so many us have just taken as ‘part of the job’ – but no more. By alleviating these tasks, we’re left to focus on more important aspects of the job such as writing quality content.

How is AI supporting content marketers in 2021?

  • Hyper-personalised content – the advancement of AI technology has enabled us to track the topics and content users are interested in, much more easily and quickly than humans ever could. In turn, this allows content marketing strategists to tailor the content generated and ensure the medium in which it’s presented reflects the intended target audience. Forbes wrote an article recently about how AI is used in social media to custom feed algorithms – check it out here to learn more.
  • Superior predictive analytics – by pairing the mining and analysation of data with AI technology, we can determine future behaviour. Leveraging AI to analyse user aspects such as heat-mapping, content consumption and behavioural patterns will help communications professionals to truly understand how users interact with the content and which topics and content types work best for the intended audience. Potential audiences can also be identified, allowing marketers to actually predict responses based on past behaviour patterns.
  • Topic inspiration – alongside tracking topics, AI can also automatically perform competitive research on topics. This not only helps to limit the amount of time that marketing professionals need to spend researching and writing content on topics that aren’t actively being searched for by users, but also supports topic ideation. AI-powered content strategy tools such as Clearscope enable us to unearth new content ideas via advanced machine learning techniques, offering suggestions on which topic categories to follow based on keyword searches and audience intent.

Although AI has progressed significantly in the last five years, it’s still a far cry from robots being present in and replacing human roles in publication offices and content marketing agencies worldwide – check back in another five years and perhaps a robot will have written the next Isoline blog in our AI saga!

If you’re looking for your next role in the world of content marketing and have a passion for learning and writing about innovative technology such as AI, get in touch at: [email protected] (robots need not apply…)

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