Ask GPT to answer a question, or to create a piece of writing, and it will respond in well-structured, natural-sounding human language that most people simply would not guess has been created by a machine. Of course, this has immediately got people asking what the implications are for us humans – and one of the first professions to fear that they could be facing the chop are marketers.
This seems to be rational because many aspects of marketing and advertising involve creating text – whether it is writing copy for adverts, creating marketing emails, or just writing simple social media posts. Now that everyday machines are apparently able to carry out these tasks, is everybody working in these jobs in danger of becoming redundant?
The fact is that throughout history, we've seen that new developments in technology have tended to create new jobs as quickly as it makes old jobs redundant. What's more, the jobs that are created are often more technical, creative, or highly-skilled – meaning that they are higher paying and often more rewarding.
For example, the arrival of mechanized farm equipment reduced the need for unskilled field workers but created a need for skilled engineers and technicians. And the dawn of the computing era made a lot of low-paid clerical filing workers and typists redundant but created higher-paid jobs in software engineering and data administration. Likewise, the World Economic Forum predicts that while jobs will be lost to AI, in the long-term, it will lead to job growth. So let’s take a look at how the arrival of this undoubtedly game-changing technology could affect your career prospects if you’re working – or looking to work – in the field of marketing and advertising.
Firstly - What Exactly is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a virtual assistant, or chatbot, that uses a field of machine learning known as natural language processing (NLP). It is an example of generative AI, because it can create something completely new that has never existed before. As well as human languages like English, it can also write computer code. ChatGPT is really a user interface for a large language model called GPT3 (Generative Pretrained Transformer 3) developed by OpenAI. Although precise details of the training data have not been made public, it’s known that it includes a massive dataset of 175 billion parameters, including books, newspapers, and research papers, and a snapshot of the internet taken in 2021. It was trained using unsupervised learning, meaning that the information it was given was not labeled. Instead, it simply records which words are used and analyzes the context and relationships between them. This allows it to then predict what words, and in what order, it should use to create the best response. Although the results it is capable of may seem amazing, the algorithms that make up ChatGPT and GPT-3 are really quite simple and are all based on statistics. The “intelligence” is all possible due to the sheer size of the training dataset and the speed at which it is capable of processing requests.
How will jobs in marketing or advertising be affected by ChatGPT?
If you work in a creative role in advertising or marketing, it's likely that writing constitutes at least some of your responsibilities. This means that the first time you see what natural language AIs like ChatGPT are capable of, you might be wondering whether you are soon going to be replaced.
In theory, companies can now use the technology to create copy for advertising, marketing emails, social media posts, long-form content marketing pieces, and website copy.
It’s important to remember, though, that everything ChatGPT writes or creates is based on what it understands about something that has been written before. This means it isn’t actually capable of original thought or creativity in the same way as humans.
What this means is that marketers who are used to working in a routine, formulaic way might have reason to be worried, those who are capable of applying truly human qualities should have nothing to fear.
For example, a popular marketing model today is influencer marketing. Influencers – in theory - are individuals that have developed a relationship with their audience based on human connections. Their audience is interested in the content they create because of who has written or created it – they don’t want content that’s been created by a generic robot.
Likewise, if you write social media posts for a living, then – if you are doing it successfully – it's likely your audience is interested in the authentic voice of your brand and the opportunity to connect with the humans behind it. This element of a marketer’s work can still not be replicated well by a machine, and it will likely be some time before it can.
The simplest way to think of it is that natural language technologies can be used to replace a lot of the hum-drum, routine elements of the job. This could include creating lists, defining the structure of content marketing pieces or advertising, or ensuring that every item from a list of key points has been addressed in a piece of text.
Other ways in which ChatGPT can be used to automate routine aspects of marketing work include:
· Market research – It can quickly generate a list of key players in any industry as well as their most important products and services.
· Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – ChatGPT can be used to generate copy that includes keywords that search engines look for when ranking pages. However, care must be taken not to fall foul of algorithms that penalize sites for using computer-generated content.
· Product descriptions – Generating bulk descriptions for e-commerce sites where product catalogs are frequently updated.
When using ChatGPT for any of these use cases, it’s important to be wary of the platform's weaknesses. Specifically, its training data has not been fully audited for bias, meaning that bias may sometimes creep into its output. And as its training is based on a snapshot of data taken in 2021, it has limited information about anything that’s happened since then.
I work in marketing – what can I do to avoid becoming redundant?
If you can master using these abilities to augment your own creativity and human skills, then you won’t have to worry about AI making you redundant. Instead, you can concentrate on using it to become a more effective and efficient marketer.
It’s important to remember, though, that the worst thing to do at the moment is to bury your head in the sand and pretend that this technology doesn’t exist, and that it isn’t going to bring dramatic change to many industries – including yours.
As we have learned from previous eras of accelerated technology-driven change – such as the industrial revolution or the computer age – those who prosper will be those who learn to work alongside the technology. This means harnessing its power to assist us while we concentrate on developing and exploiting our uniquely human characteristics. This might include creativity, strategic thinking, empathy, and emotional intelligence.
Identifying, understanding, and building a relationship with a target audience is a critical part of any marketer’s job, and while AIs like ChatGPT or GPT-3 can assist with this, they are still not able to do it as strategically and effectively as a human.
However – a word of warning – we are still only seeing the very earliest iterations of this technology. GPT-4 is already known to exist, though has not been made public yet, and is said to be 100 times more powerful than GPT-3.
With this power, it’s possible that GPT-4 will be able to come closer to emulating some of the human qualities I’ve mentioned. For example, it may be able to develop simulated personalities that audiences may relate to more closely than they do with the generic, robot voice of GPT-3.
What this means is that anyone wanting to ensure they remain effective and competitive in their role in the future has to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in the world of AI. That the world will be changed forever by AI is inevitable – and understanding when and how those changes will occur, and how they will affect you, is key to ensuring its effect on your life will be a positive one.