Content automation – what is it good for? 

Should a robot generate your content?

Posted by Brigitta de Vries on June 4, 2019

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An increasing use of robots and automation is changing how many industries do business. Some firms are even using automated artificial-intelligence software to generate written marketing-related content. What might this mean for you, and for the copywriters currently generating your content?

One of leaders in this space is Automated Insights, whose Wordsmith software is being used by companies in sectors such as real estate, insurance, financial services, e-commerce and media to write reports and content with virtually no human intervention. Firms including Yahoo!, Allstate, Comcast, Edmunds.com and Associated Press are among those now auto-generating content. Exciting, or scary – or perhaps both?

Is using “robot journalists” right for you? That depends, but it’s key to consider several key factors.

First of all, it helps to understand the types of content currently being written by software programs. These typically are quick, short news items or very formulaic stories that rely heavily on data and statistics, such as Associated Press using Wordsmith to write men’s college basketball game previews and minor-league baseball game summaries.

It may work for generating product sheets, for example, since companies tend to use a basic template, and then just plug in different trade names and specifications.

But nothing can truly replace a human copywriter with curiosity, intelligence and all-important industry knowledge. It doesn’t make sense to entrust investigative journalism or personalized story-telling to anyone (or anything) but a skilled human. If you wish to engage with your audience, you will need creative thinking and a craftsman skilled in the nuances of the language.

Robots are not the answer if you wish to generate thought-leadership pieces or stories that offer market analysis or insights. If you wish to grab the attention of the general audience (or of a busy trade-press editor), you need to stand out from the crowd, not offer cookie-cutter content.

This is not to dismiss the overall concept of content automation – which has certainly demonstrated its worth in certain applications – but rather to ensure you understand its shortcomings.

Much was similarly made some time ago of the introduction to businesses of machine translation for converting one language into another (ostensibly to avoid the use of more-expensive human translators). But then, a plastics resin maker using such software shouldn’t be shocked if the term “nylon” ends up being translated by software as “woman’s stocking.” It is technically correct (in one sense), but irrelevant and utterly out of context.

So, don’t sack your copywriters just yet. Our sense is that they will remain vitally important to marketing communications for years to come. 

 

If you wish to engage with your audience, generate thought-leadership pieces or stories that grab the attention we can get you on your way.

 

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