It’s a question almost every new copywriter has: “Is AI taking over copywriting?” The short answer is absolutely not. But it’s, nonetheless, a valid concern. If you’re getting into a new career, you want to know there’s going to be work and job growth potential.
With new AI models like ChatGPT and Jasper.ai, combined with sensationalist news headlines like “AI means the end of the world,” it can get anyone’s heart racing.
But the “is AI taking over copywriting” question is one I’ve been excited address since I saw this headline in a business email: “JPMorgan Chase Partners with an Ad-Writing Machine…Literally.”
The crux of the story is that they’ve signed a five-year deal with a start-up called Persado that uses AI to write creative ad copy.
SCREEEEEEECH. I sense copywriters everywhere stopping in their tracks and clutching at their hearts.
And here’s an example of human versus robot writing:
Human version: “Access cash from the equity in your home”
AI version: “It’s true—You can unlock cash from the equity in your home”
And, yeah, the AI version doesn’t sound stilted or odd the way that previous AI copywriting programs generally have.
But…AI will not replace copywriters in our lifetimes. Here’s why.
AI Copywriting is Only As Good As What Humans Feed It
Fundamentally, any company that wants to use AI to write their copy has the same problem that people have whenever they try to replace a creative human with a machine.
First of all, in order to program the software to write copy, they need tons and tons of creative humans to input possible options. Artificial intelligence doesn’t just happen. It has to be taught, and that takes a lot of time and effort and expense to even get to the place where software sounds remotely like a human.
And it can’t come up with ideas on the fly when someone needs a quick change. It needs to be programmed to fulfill any job. For the vast majority of companies, in almost every scenario, it’s just going to be faster, easier, and more effective to hire a skilled human to do it.
The Weaknesses of Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT
There are many flaws in AI and programs like ChatGPT. Perhaps Courtney Herda from SiteCare put it best:
The results of our experiment found the greatest weaknesses in AI-generated content: a proclivity for outdated information, poor use of citations, an overreliance on surface-level overviews, and a lack of cohesion between concepts. These weaknesses are further reinforced by the disparity in initial results in the SERP rankings. Quality and performance from content written by humans and for humans performed better, likely not just because it was written by a human, but because the topic was analyzed critically.Courtney Herda from “The Article AI Didn’t Write: Taking On ChatGPT One Word at a Time“
In fact, SiteCare did an experiment with AI-generated content and found that human-created content outperformed all AI-generated content. Readers stayed on the page longer with human-generated content. Human-created content also had a lower bounce rate, meaning users were more likely to click to other pages on the site before leaving the site. Google’s algorithm also ranked the human-created content higher.
Copywriters Are Creative in Ways AI Isn’t
Even when it gets good, though, AI can’t be creative. It can’t come up with possibilities that make sense that no one’s ever heard before. It just can’t. By its very nature, it’s going to be derivative.
AI also can’t connect with human beings in the ways that copywriters can. It’s not pitching prospective clients ideas. It can’t listen to a client’s pain points and challenges and then come up with effective solutions. And it doesn’t have the emotional intelligence to write copy that connects at the deepest level with the target audience.
Plus, it can’t write to a tone of voice. A major part of what copywriters are trained to do is take a brand voice and write copy in that voice. Skilled copywriters have the ability to make their copy feel like it’s part of the brand and relate to its customers.
Again, AI is only as good as what you feed it.
So, for example, if you ask “will AI replace copywriters?”, this is the answer it provides:
Notice how it has a lot of the points we’re making in this article. That’s because ChatGPT is spitting out what it is finding across the web on this topic. (Good news: there seems to be a consensus!)
But, the writing demonstrates a key point: it’s pretty stilted.
AI Copywriting Tools Aren’t Capable of Matching Brand Voice
Your job as a copywriter is to make sure your client doesn’t sound like anyone else. To do that, you need to create copy that doesn’t exist yet. AI copywriting tools use what already exists to write copy, so they can’t come up with something original and they can’t write to a voice.
Here’s what happened when we asked ChatGPT to write a banner ad for the New Yorker Magazine using humor that Baby Boomers would understand:
The excessive emoji use and terms like “OG” are certainly not aimed at a Baby Boomer. Is it humorous? Not really. Would this copy fit on a banner ad? No way! (Of course, the input could be revised to say write an ad in 6 words or something more specific.)
AI is Used for Content More Than Copywriting
Content writing and copywriting are two different things. Content writing requires a lower level of skill, so it makes sense that AI is being used to write content.
AI can churn out blog posts on topics that don’t require original thought, expertise, or research. Essentially, it can take information that already exists and regurgitate it.
What it’s not going to do is brainstorm strategy or write an original piece of content based on an expert’s unique perspective or experience.
AI Will Replace Writers…Just the Unskilled Ones
And, of course, too, don’t forget that there are millions of companies in this world of all shapes and sizes, and the vast majority of them don’t have the funds or the need to purchase an AI copywriting program—especially one that can’t fulfill all of the functions that a human copywriter could.
I’m sure that companies will still try to come up with programs that replace copywriters, just as they keep trying to come up with programs that replace all other kinds of human functions because that’s what tech companies like to do.
And they will replace some writers—really crummy writers who haven’t received training and who don’t know how to write copy that’s in line with a brand and its audience. Writers who think strategically, concept ideas, and connect with their audiences on an emotional level are valued and will remain valuable to businesses.
Your job as a copywriter involves so much more than writing. Just as one example, a client may come to you and say, “I want to create an Instagram ad driving to this $5,000 product!”
As a copywriter, you have the understanding that driving cold traffic to a $5,000 product isn’t going to work. Perhaps what they need is actually an email nurture series that allows prospective customers to see the value in the $5,000 product so they’re more likely to purchase.
How You May Use AI Tools to Help Your Process
You may use AI copywriting tools to help your writing process! It may help you come up with SEO-optimized headlines, for example. Or, it may help you expedite mundane tasks like transcribing interviews. Or maybe you’ll use it to overcome writer’s block by having it generate some ideas to get you going.
But is AI taking over copywriting? No.
These programs simply won’t have the flexibility, the scope, or the creativity to replace copywriters completely. I’m sure some companies will test them out and some will try to use them, but the vast, vast, vast majority of companies will still get more benefits out of using human copywriters—and that will still likely include the companies who are using the software, too.
Hear Nicki and Kate discuss on Episode 96 of the Build Your Copywriting Business podcast why artificial intelligence is not something copywriters need to worry about—now or in their lifetimes.
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Last Updated on July 5, 2023