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The rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years has raised many questions regarding job security and copywriting in the beauty industry, and with good reason. Marketing strategies that once required human ingenuity–personalization, process automation, augmented decision-making, and digital supply chain networks, to name a few–are increasingly dominated by machine intelligence, negating the need for companies to fill these roles with real people. As the ubiquity of AI grows, one of the most pressing questions for a gal like me is:
Will copywriting soon be obsolete in the age of AI?
Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash
This fear is not unfounded. One need look no further than the popularity of AI-powered chatbots like ChatGPT and Jasper AI to appreciate the potential of machine learning to revolutionize content creation. But are these technologies capable of replacing copywriting jobs entirely? The short answer, my dear friends, is no – cue sighs of relief from all my fellow writers. I did a little research to get to the bottom of it, and here’s what I found.
ChatGPT and other generative AI models are capable of producing passable marketing copy in a matter of seconds, but the key word is “passable.” Copywriting expert Nicki Krawczyk of Filthy Rich Writer, an on-demand training hub for aspiring copywriters, explains the limitations of machine-generated copy in a 2023 article entitled “Can Copywriting Software Replace Skilled Copywriters?”
“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,” Krawczyk said. “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.”
Reading this was an enormous relief, but one thought did occur to me: as someone who makes a living off writing, Krawczyk might be biased when it comes to assessing the shelf life of her chosen profession. With this in mind, I decided to keep digging.
A 2023 study by Sitecare sought to discover if AI-written content outperforms human content on Google, and the findings were clear: it does not. Courtney Ferda, a researcher and professor of Digital Marketing Strategy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, attributes these findings to a number of AI-specific weaknesses.
“The results of our experiment found the greatest weaknesses in AI-generated content [were]: a proclivity for outdated information, poor use of citations, an overreliance on surface-level overviews, and a lack of cohesion between concepts,” Ferda said. “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.”
The study revealed that not only did readers spend more time on the pages featuring human-generated content, but human-generated content also ranked higher in Google’s algorithm and had a lower bounce rate than AI-generated content.
All of this to say, AI is not sophisticated enough to take the place of real human writers. Krawczyk explains, “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.” In other words, AI simply isn’t capable of the creative processes that characterize human-generated writing.
This is not to say that AI cannot be used as an effective writing tool. Similar to earlier technologies–think hand-held calculators, word processors, spell-checkers–AI can be used by copywriting and marketing teams in the beauty industry to enhance their work in many valuable ways. Rowan Curran, Forrester’s lead analyst on ChatGPT, summarized his thoughts on the matter: “The way that I see people using these [technologies] 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.”
Hear that, copywriters? Don’t despair! You’re still needed, so keep writing.
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