Weighing the Pros and Cons of AI-Generated Content
It’s a conversation that’s happening in real time. It’s a topic that’s on the lips – both real and virtual – of content creators and curators everywhere. How can I use AI content generators, like ChatGPT? Where do I start? Are there things of which I should first be aware?
Before we get to how we want to explore the “should.” For all the positives that AI content generation brings, there are some potential negative impacts that it can have on your business. Understanding the risks and rewards and how they pertain to your organization’s efforts is integral to success.
Over the next few months, we’ll continue to explore the practical applications of AI content generators and how they can be integrated into your communication and creative efforts. But first, we want to give you some food for thought to help you decide whether AI-generated content, ideas, or outputs are right for you.
What Are Your Intentions with AI-Generated Content?
Is AI-generated content the entire solution or just part of it? Are you looking for ways to augment your current content curation needs or are you trying to game the SEO system and get a virtual leg up on the competition?
The ethics of using AI-generated content are one thing – and generally can be mitigated by disclosing when and why you use AI-generated content. But the intent can have a dramatic impact.
For years, people have been trying to “game” Google – from keyword stuffing to bait-and-switch titling conventions, black-hat SEO types have tried to use the algorithm to their advantage. The thing is, Google’s really good at sniffing out that type of behaviour and putting into place solutions that not only discourage it but actively punish sites that engage in nefarious tactics.
If you’re trying to help your content creators refine their work or deliver a more conversational search experience for your end users, AI-generated content can be a positive experience.
Ultimately, there are no quick fixes or cheats that will work long-term. But if you’re looking at AI-generated content to complement your existing workflow – making it one tool in a much larger toolbox – you’re likely going to find benefits. It’s important to define the “why do we need this?” before jumping into the “how do we use this?” part of the question.
Content generation is a challenge for most clients – and it’s a challenge that’s almost universally underestimated.
If you have a lot of content to create – or are stuck trying to write on a specific topic – AI content generators can help you “hit the ground running,” as it were, providing you with a starting point to work with.
Depending on how generic your content needs are, AI-generated content may be ideal for you. However, if you need to spend a lot of time editing, refining, or adding in specifics, it may actually become more of a time drain on your content creators and curators if the solution isn't trained on the specifics required or desired.
How Will Google Evaluate AI-Generated Content?
Right now, Google’s saying all the right things about AI-generated content, comparing it to human-created spam and other black-hat SEO activities of the past. According to Google, it’s most concerned about the relevancy of content, stating that it doesn’t care how the content was generated if it’s of a certain quality and value to the user.
However, when people turn to ChatGPT for search results rather than Google, will that change? Will Google devalue AI-generated content in the future and will that have an impact on your search results? It’s always good to evaluate the long-term integrity of any basket before you choose to stuff all of your eggs in it.
There are tools like MIT-IBM’s Watson AI and the Harvard-based Giant Language Model Test Room (GLTR) that can help you identify if the content is AI-generated. Will that matter for all of your customers? Likely not. Will it matter for some? Probably.
Our research has shown that users value authenticity across a variety of service offerings. So it becomes a bit of a risk/reward proposition.
Using AI-generated content to populate product pages? Likely that’s a low risk. Using AI-generated content to create blog posts and other thought leadership pieces – and then attributing it to a real, live human? That’s more risky and more ethically ambiguous.
Bias and Flawed Sourcing
AI solutions like ChatGPT do not exist in a vacuum. They’re beholden to the information that’s available on the Internet as their source of information. Sometimes that information is right; sometimes that information is wrong or, worse, riddled with bias and discriminatory content.
Sparrow – Google’s AI chatbot – was held back due to concerns about the impact of erroneous information and biases. Galactica – Facebook’s AI – was recalled due to concerns related to the sources of scientific research it was drawing from.
Through editing and research, you can help direct the narrative. But when you outsource content creation, you run the risk of starting with a shaky foundation. Is the time editing and fact-checking less than the time you’d have taken writing from scratch? The answer to that question can help you determine whether it’s an investment worth making.
Tip: Ask the generator to cite its sources with live links so you can vet the quality and accuracy of the information it’s drawing from.
What Makes You Unique?
By its very nature, AI content generation is beholden to a summary of multiple voices and content sources. It, essentially, finds the commonalities of content and presents it, eloquently, in a format that’s intended to support consensus. But if you’re looking to set yourself apart from others, are you content with the “happy median” that AI-generated content will deliver?
Yes, you can tell AI content generators to write in a specific “style,” but will it match the voice you’ve defined? Like the fact-checking effort/impact reference above, evaluating whether the time spent editing and adding your unique elements to generic content is a worthy trade-off for automated content generation can help you define your investment.
Alignment to Conversational Tone
In general, we advocate for Plain Language-based content presentations that embrace universal accessibility. Whether you’re a retail establishment or you’re presenting scientific findings, universally accessible language aligns with the majority of user needs, search patterns, and desired behaviours – and you can support those jargon-loving users in complementary ways.
AI-generated content is conversational in nature. Used to power chat or to respond to search queries, it excels in layering a natural, almost-human tone to content presentations. This is especially beneficial for organizations that have multiple content creators who rigidly adhere to legacy content belief systems. This may be the tool to help you overcome the long-form/wall-of-text writers out there, or those who refuse to believe that not everyone understands jargon.
No “Write” or Wrong Answers
As you can see, there really are no right or wrong answers here – at least not globally. This isn’t a binary decision, but rather one that you need to evaluate based on your own beliefs, content needs, and evaluation of the risks and rewards.
Ultimately, the right decision is the one that aligns with your needs and beliefs. Understanding the potential impact of AI-generated content can allow you to undertake a more comprehensive evaluation of the fit for you and your organization. And we can help you explore if, how, and where AI-generated content can work for you.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more thoughts on AI-generated content. And if you’d like to discuss options for your business, please reach out to us.
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