I am a writer. I write ad copy, journalism, poetry, fiction, and essays—not necessarily in that order. Because I am a writer, I want to laugh at the idea that a machine can do what I, or what any writer does for a living. Sure, a machine can spit out words, I get that part. But is that good enough today? Can machine-generated words move customer automatons to respond favorably? Can an AI copywriting platform (that one can access for a low monthly subscription) help to solve real business problems for clients?
One company, anyword, makes their pitch like so: “Craft effective messages with the world’s most efficient predictive performance model. Continuously optimize your copy automatically to increase your conversions. Boost your sales.” I wonder if a machine wrote that.
I also wonder how many people are converted by the idea of auto-generating copy that convinces and converts—all for much less money than it takes to pay professional writers or the ad agencies who employ them. I don’t doubt that it’s an enticing offer to the right buyer—buyers who don’t know where to find writers or how to successfully work with them.
anyword is far from the only company pitching the promise of ease, speed, and savings. If a tech company can make something that’s currently hard to come by, appear to be easy and affordable to come by, they and their VCs are on the way to the bank.
anyword sells the idea of ease by “taking the guesswork” out of the copywriting equation and “continually optimizing” any underperforming copy.
This is direct marketing on growth hormones. And direct has always been attractive to marketers who believe in ‘the hard sell’ and fact-based selling.
I’m not saying AI doesn’t work or that AI is bad. I am saying that professional writers won’t be easily put out to pasture, because humans who write well are combing through every memory gained in their life of experiences, and will therefore always have a better sense of things (and what people care about) than a machine that is programmed to sell.
For example, I, as a human being who writes well am inclined to want my headlines to contain rhythm, possibly alliteration, and maybe a literary or pop culture reference (all designed to make connections with readers). Many copywriters today have been taught to cram their headlines with keywords so Google and Yahoo and the rest can ‘read’ them. I will account for keywords, as will any writer seeking a payday today, but I’m not going to force them on a reader.
Take this article. “The Machines Have Moved In. The Machines Have No Feelings.” is not a keyword-rich headline. Does Adpulp.com suffer because I refuse to write headlines for the search engines? Perhaps. What if my goals are larger than growth at the cost of poorly written copy? What if I think it’s my job to use writing to paint a better picture for people and give them something of substance in return for their attention and time?
For what it’s worth, anyword isn’t out to replace copywriters or the agencies who employ them, at least not completely. anyword does want to sell us on using their technology to improve our copy’s performance for clients. So, as long as we agree to cyborg-up and see what the machines have to teach us, we might remain in our jobs.