The incredible leaps that we have been experiencing in various applications of machine learning and AI over the last couple of years have also started to seep in content writing.
This is not surprising considering that natural language processing has been one of the main focuses of contemporary AI research (the other being image recognition).
In this article, we will touch upon the scary elephant in the room – AI as the killer of human content writers. However, we will mostly investigate how current and future AI applications are changing content writing, especially commercial writing.
The super-scary, job-stealing pachyderm in the room
Before investigating how AI is changing content writing, it is probably a good idea to address something that has been weighing on the minds of content writers – am I going to be replaced by AI?
The short answer is no.
The long answer is ‘not unless a completely paradigm-shifting technology is brought to life’.
The main reason so many people worry about AI replacing human writers is that not that many people understand the level at which AI operates now.
Namely, over 99% of all AI applications in practice today revolve around a concept called backpropagation, first theorized in the 1980s by Geoffrey Hinton. After more than three decades, the hardware is finally good enough to put this concept into practice and it works.
For certain purposes.
For certain, very limited purposes.
In order for AI to even come close to human writing capabilities, AI would have to be completely reimagined. At the moment, however, it seems people are perfectly content with perfecting the backpropagation-based AI applications. At least the vast, vast majority of them.
In short, content writers can sleep easily.
That being said, certain applications of AI as it is are changing content writing, especially within the content marketing framework.
AI getting some outsourced work
Okay, this one feels like going totally against what’s written above, but you need to understand what kind of content we are discussing.
Namely, we are talking about content that is barely a notch beyond serving data.
Narrative Science, the company behind the aforementioned football report later launched a service that turns data into reports that seem as if written by people. Here’s a sample report.
Another big player in the natural language generation game is Automated Insights. Still, their content also boils down to reports and structured content such as client updates, product descriptions, stock and other financial analysis.
While this may seem like a big deal, it is actually a very niche type of content that is being outsourced to AI and it’s not like it is the type of content us humans like to write.
New types of content to write
Just as we’re witnessing AI taking over some menial writing from human content writers, the new developments in AI create other kinds of work.
Perhaps the most obvious example of this are chatbots – pieces of software with some basic AI capabilities deployed online to meet the various needs that organizations may have.
Custom-facing chatbots are by far the most common, helping provide some basic customer support. Marketing chatbots have also become quite the rage and many organizations even employ chatbots as part of their employee-facing HR efforts.
Since chatbots are not really self-sufficient, they still need humans to write their responses when they are being set up and this can be an exciting and interesting bit of content writing.
It involves predicting interactions, coming up with various approaches to customers (employees, leads), lots of conversational writing and much more.
Help with research and topic suggestions
A huge part of content writing is the preparation, in other words, research of the potential topics, keywords, sentiment and everything else that goes into crafting a well-performing piece of content.
In today’s world where everyone does at least a bit of SEO, this matters more than ever.
MarketMuse is a great example of this. It is an AI-based software that takes your topic research to another level. Once you specify your topic, their ML algorithms suggest what you should write and how to approach it.
Another tool, Atomic Reach features ML-based content analysis which helps companies and brands maintain consistency across their various content channels. This helps content writers ensure that their work is always on-brand and working in unison.
Market Brew is also a very interesting tool as it uses AI to simulate search engine behavior. This gives you the opportunity to see how content and SEO changes that you are thinking of making will affect the search engine performance of your content.
In other words, you do not have to wait for days and weeks to see the effects of your changes.
AI-based writing aids
AI-based writing aids go well beyond spelling-checkers of old that had very limited functionalities. Modern writing aids have an almost human-level grasp of grammar and they can even help with style, readability, and structure.
The best of them even have a personalized approach to individual users, identifying the weakest parts in their writing and focusing the suggestions on those pain points.
To understand how great these aids are, just try to find a self-respecting content writer who doesn’t use one such tool.
You’ll be searching for a long time.
Better targeted content
Another application of AI in content is helping with segmentation and targeting various audiences with more personalized content.
No matter how good you are at segmentation, you simply cannot process the amount of data that AI-powered software can, providing you with an insane amount of data on how, when and where to serve the most effective content.
The perfect example of this application of AI is in email marketing where every little help counts, leading to higher open rates, click rates and, ultimately, sales.
Of course, this does mean that content writers will have more on their plate, but, hey, at least the jobs aren’t disappearing.
Automated product recommendations and cart abandonment messages are another way in which AI has entered digital marketing. They give content writers a chance to once again flex their skills in order to capture customers.
On the one hand, AI is far from being able to write anything more than the simplest reports, making it unlikely that human content writers will be replaced any time soon.
On the other hand, its many applications have already started changing content writing.
The good news is that it’s for the better.
Jennifer Wilson is a writer at Qeedle.com She knows business processes and operations management inside out. As she understands all the challenges of running a small business firsthand, it’s her mission to tackle the topics that are most relevant to entrepreneurs and offer viable solutions.