The Gist

  • Marketing copy in seconds. ChatGPT and other generative AI models have the ability to create convincing marketing copy in seconds.
  • Not ready to replace humans. However, these AI tools are not yet ready to replace human copywriters.
  • Accelerate the writing process. Instead, they are being used to accelerate the writing process and enhance the work of marketing teams.
  • Ability will only increase. ChatGPT's potential to create marketing copy for specific industries or products is increasing as the technology becomes more mainstream.
  • Valuable tool. ChatGPT is seen as a valuable tool for tackling the challenge of creating a first draft, but human writers will still be needed for editing and refinement.

AI and Copywriting: Will ChatGPT Take Over the Industry?

For most copywriters and for those marketers who aspire, either by choice or necessity to be one, starting each day staring at a blank page can be daunting.

But, with the revelatory debut of ChatGPT and its ability to create convincing marketing copy in seconds, many copywriters are now wondering if they are going to be looking back on those mornings fondly as they browse job boards looking for a position that may not exist much longer.

Fortunately, at least for the moment, the current crop of AI assistants spawned by the generative AI and large language models that power ChatGPT and about 85 writer assistant services now available online, are not quite ready for prime time — as CNET discovered when it was outed for using generative AI to write some 80 articles for its 9 a.m. finance stories.

Generative-AI and the Writing Process: Enhancing the Work of Copywriters

Instead of replacing copywriters directly, these tools, like many other technologies before them (e.g., word processors, spell-checkers, hand-held calculators, etc.), will likely be used by marketing teams to enhance their work, said Rowan Curran, Forrester’s lead analyst on ChatGPT.

“The way that I see people using these today is as a way to accelerate the writing process ... not as a way to create production ready content or as a way to get rid of copywriters entirely,” he said.

The same thing happened after 1997 when IBM’s Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Instead of shunning technology, today’s top chess players are actually human-machine teams, said Curran.

AI Results Will Improve

Still, as generative AI tools and models change and become specialized to specific industries or even one company’s product set, the ability of these machines to create good marketing copy — blog posts, white papers, technical documents, brochures, ebooks, email and social media posts, etc.—will only increase. This could, in theory, put entry-level jobs on the chopping block. But, more than likely, these jobs will simply transform as the technology becomes more mainstream, said Curran.

“Most of [the AI copywriting tools] have some content translation capability,” said Curran. “So you can say, ‘Hey, here's a white paper, can you draft me a blog, a LinkedIn post, an Instagram post based off of it?’, and it will do that. And then you can go in and edit and refine it and then post it.”

Related Article: ChatGPT: What You Need to Know

Getting Work Done: The Current State of Generative-AI 

As part of the research for this article, I asked ChatGPT to create some basic travel brochures on why cruising provides the best value for your vacation dollar. Inside of a few seconds, I had workable copy that could easily be modified to include a cruise line’s specific offerings such as destinations, activities, menus and all manner of pricing information and special offers. I also had it create different versions of the brochure for specific audiences like adult only cruises. ChatGPT didn’t miss a beat.

Learning Opportunities

If ChatGPT had access to a cruise line’s marketing materials, it could probably handle most of the work of creating new marketing copy. As specials and offers change throughout the year, it could simply create a new round of copy within seconds. Of course cruising is a well-known industry with pretty formulaic advertising but with some tweaks and supervision, there is no reason why AI couldn’t do this for any industry, regardless of complexity. It just needs access to the right data.

By most accounts, however, including the less than stellar debuts by Bing and Google where their ChatGPT-like AI engines produced some pretty obvious errors and have since been described as “unhinged,” the technology today is still a work in progress. Generative AI engines make obvious errors that any subject matter expert would either see immediately or would intuitively know to double-check.

“It wrote me an innovation strategy that was focused on why resistance to change is the most important thing to a successful innovative strategy,” said Christine Livingston, a managing director in Protiviti’s Emerging Technologies Group. “Clearly, that's not accurate. But [the AI is] optimized to oblige the information it's requested to provide. So, if you ask it, it will give you very misleading information.”

Related Article: Top 5 ChatGPT Prompts for Customer Experience Professionals

The Potential of AI in Copywriting

Mike Fulton, chief information officer and senior vice president at the talent solutions company Vernovis and a lecturer on digital transformation at The Ohio State University, sees ChatGPT as a great way for businesspeople of all types to tackle one of the toughest challenges in writing: creating a first draft.

“That blank sheet of paper is the most difficult thing to create from,” he said. “Once you have something to evaluate, it’s much, much easier. And that’s where having something like ChatGPT can be infinitely valuable.”