Or: The Analogies of AI Content Generators and Sourdough Bread Starters
By Stacey Piper and Carolyn McBride
As a longtime marketer, the development of content and graphics for blogs, websites, one-pagers, and other marketing materials is one of my company’s core offerings. The experts at Piper Strategies specialize in cultivating high quality, engaging content tailored to your target audience, leveraging essential creative principles that enable significant results. At the same time, in the highly competitive field of marketing, we must adapt and innovate quickly enough to keep up with consumer demands, understanding when different technologies can be deployed strategically—such as artificial intelligence (AI)—in order to generate maximum ROI.
Forgive the italicized text, but I wanted to delineate clearly between was written without the aid of a tool, and what came almost entirely from Jasper. Jasper is one of the many AI content generators that have emerged in the last couple of years since the advent of GPT-3, OpenAI’s beta natural language model trained on a gazillion words on the internet. Yes, gazillion is my word! Let’s take a look at how AI can revolutionize your content development efforts.
Many AI Content Generators, One Source
You may already be relying on a writing assistant to improve the quality of your writing, such as Grammarly or ProWritingAid, without even realizing you’re using AI! One of the tools getting lots of press lately is ChatGPT, released in November 2022. With its broad, conversational content applications, ChatGPT is raising issues around originality and plagiarism, particularly in educational environments.
AI content generators for copywriters include Copy.ai, Hypotenuse.ai, and AnyWord, as well as GrowthBar and ArticleForge that specialize in search engine optimization. The tools are differentiated by interface, features, and add-ons (sometimes for an extra fee)—SEO, translations, voice dictation, plagiarism checkers, browser extensions—all to suit a range of needs and budgets. And recently, Microsoft licensed exclusive access to the underlying code of GPT-3, so we can expect Microsoft-based AI products coming soon to Microsoft 365.
What’s the common denominator? AI content generators for marketing are all products leveraging a version of GPT-3, like different loaves of bread from the same sourdough starter. A seemingly random analogy? Let’s ask AI. A sourdough bread starter is essentially a living organism that is composed of flour, water, salt, and wild yeasts. A starter needs to be fed regularly with flour and water so that it will continue to “grow” or ferment. Once nurtured properly over time, the starter can become strong enough to leaven doughs into tasty loaves of bread.
How AI Content Generators Work
AI content generators also require constant feeding or nurturing in order for them to grow strong over time. They need data on which to base their algorithms so that they can generate targeted and relevant content for consumers quickly and effectively. This data can come from sources such as past customer interactions, demographic information, and user search histories. The more data you feed the generator about your customers’ buying habits and preferences, the better it will perform when creating content tailored specifically for those customers.
In many ways, these generators are like sourdough starters—both require regular nurturing with the right ingredients to thrive over time. AI content generators need data from its users to become powerful tools for creating personalized material for customers.
The Care & Feeding of Your AI Content Generator
AI content generation is a process of automatically producing written text using algorithms and natural language processing. Mastering an AI content generator takes practice and patience but can help streamline your digital marketing efforts if done correctly. By taking some time upfront to become familiar with your chosen tool, defining clear objectives, and investing in additional services when necessary, federal agency decision makers and CMOs alike can leverage this technology to its fullest potential—unlocking greater efficiency while optimizing their digital presence.
Define Your Goals
As with any tool used to optimize business processes, you need to define your goals in order to select the best AI content generator and maximize your investment.
- What type of content do you want to generate?
- How often do you plan on using the tool?
Answering these questions will help you determine which settings are best for your particular situation. Additionally, be sure to review any existing templates or other pre-defined settings within the tool before creating new ones.
Get Trained (or Hire a Specialist)
Again, as with any tool used to optimize business processes, you get out of it what you put into it. The user-friendly interface of AI content generators can appear to be plug and play, but the tool is more powerful with a skilled operator. Repetition is a common complaint due to inherent memory limitations, but you can learn the workarounds to improve the quality of content.
Most AI content generation tools come with tutorials and other resources to help you get started. Be sure to take advantage of these resources so that you can maximize your investment in the tool. Finally, consider investing in custom training data sets or additional services, including custom templates or even access to third-party datasets that can be used as input data for generating more accurate results tailored specifically for your organization’s needs.
Remember the Limitations
- Your AI content generator is inherently outdated.
Believe it or not, the model used by all AI content generators is based on “dough” started at the end of 2019. This means your AI content generator, like Jasper, doesn’t even know about the pandemic. Remember life before COVID-19? That’s all that these tools know. You can’t rely on them for current events.
- Your AI content generator is not intended to be a factual database.
GPT-3 was trained by reviewing about ten percent of the internet. It’s not performing an action like a Google search and generating content for you from the results. Rather, it tries to evaluate your intent based on statistical patterns in language and complete the prompts that you feed it, true or not. The better you feed it, the more relevant the results will be, but it’s going for form over substance.
Leverage the Strengths
A tool, no matter what kind, can only take you so far. But when you’re struggling to put pen to paper, so to speak, and write that monthly blog or draft ad copy that doesn’t sound like the last ten ads you wrote, an AI content generator can get you over that hump and give you a fresh perspective. The next time your colleague, spouse, or cat isn’t available to bounce ideas off of, try out your AI collaborator.
Depending on which one you choose, you’ll find templates for blog intros and conclusions, bios, headlines and subject lines, and sometimes artwork and code. I find Jasper most useful for generating outlines or improving a sentence that just isn’t sounding right to me. Now, let me AI that: Enhancing the clarity of your ideas or polishing up a sentence that isn’t quite hitting its mark can be easily achieved with this useful tool.
Is It Real or Is It Memorex?
If, like me, you pried many a cassette tape out of your car’s stereo system, you remember the 1980s advertising slogan, which promised an audio recording as good as the original performance. Could you tell the difference? Can you now? AI originality detectors are becoming increasingly popular and essential. They use machine learning algorithms to analyze text for patterns in order to determine what content is truly human-generated versus generated by a tool or another automated process.
Originality detectors also look at the structure of the text itself in order to make decisions about its source. For example, they may look at sentence length, word choice, syntactic complexity, and other factors that indicate whether the text was written by a human or not. In addition, some originality detectors have access to databases of known machine-generated texts as well as databases of known human-authored texts in order to better compare and contrast them when assessing a new piece of text.
The AI originality detector, AI Writing Check, was able to detect AI generated content about 80-90 percent of the time. I analyzed this blog for originality using three tools: AI Writing Check, AI Content Detector, and Originality.ai. The results, presented at the bottom, may surprise you.
AI content generators are becoming increasingly popular tools among digital marketers due to their ability to create highly targeted materials quickly and easily using consumer data points as their foundation source material. Why spend time and resources perfecting copy or creating images when artificial intelligence can do it for you in a fraction of the time? If you’re not careful and don’t take steps to be original in the process, your output will quickly blur with everyone else’s–essentially leaving you with a generic result that won’t distinguish you from the competition.
Just as a hammer does not build a house, AI content generators will not analyze competitors, audit your current efforts, and develop your marketing plan. An experienced partner like Piper Strategies can offer competitive insights and a level of quality that AI cannot match, leveraging all the tools in your marketing toolbox to the best of their abilities.