Short answer? Yes.
And it’s been happening for the past few years— AI is taking over a myriad of human jobs, and that includes copywriting.
Many business giants have already begun to depend on bots for their copy. The Washington Post, for example, has been using AI for their sports news since the Rio Olympics in 2016. Programs like Quill and Indix are becoming more and more popular, too.
The most impressive part about this? Readers can’t even tell that the articles were written by AI.
It sounds like this will be the end for copywriters around the world.
But we beg to differ.
As intelligent as computers are nowadays, there will always be something innate in us humble humans that no machine could ever emulate: emotion.
And we know that emotions enrich copy, and ultimately, your business. Can you really tell your story without it?
What’s Natural Language Processing (NLP)
AI manages to capture words and string sentences almost seamlessly through the advancing technology of Natural Language Processing (NLP).
NLP is defined by Webopedia as “the branch of artificial intelligence that deals with analysing, understanding and generating the languages that humans use naturally in order to interface with computers in both written and spoken contexts using natural human languages instead of computer languages.”
In short, it’s the process where machines learn to read, understand, and derive meaning from the human language.
A lot of us actually use these features nearly everyday. You know Siri, Alexa, and Google Home, right? They’re perfect examples of the applications of NLP. Google Translate is another one, too.
And if your jaw dropped the first time these applications were introduced to us, you’re not alone. Who isn’t amazed that what we thought were only sci-fi effects are turning into reality rapidly?
To simplify, here’s how NLP works as explained by Becoming AI:
- If there’s audio, the computer will convert it into text.
- The computer applies algorithms to extract the meaning of the text, analysing each sentence and collecting data.
- Processed data will then be converted into text or audio that humans can read or hear.
It’s through this three-step process that we get to tell personal assistant applications like Alexa and Siri to activate programs for us and answer our questions.
Of course, this isn’t perfect. The imperfections of NLP can be easily spotted by bilingual or multilingual people who use Google translate, for instance. Picking the appropriate word versus its synonyms is a challenge for AI, since the computer analyses the direct translations of each word and phrase, but not their context.
AI is trying to take the human element out of copywriting
So, what exactly is NLP doing in the copywriting space?
A division of NLP is Natural Language Generation (NLG). NLG is the part where the computer produces human language. So, where NLP is teaching a computer how to read, NLG teaches it to write.
In copywriting, NLG platforms are used to automate sales copy and product descriptions. These platforms build their own paragraphs based on the data fed to them.
With these programs’ understanding of the human language— word definitions, grammar rules, and the like— they structure their sentences the same way we humans do, while they follow specific formats or templates that they were programmed to learn.
With that level of artificial intelligence, it’s simply counterproductive not to utilise this technology.
The World Economic Forum stated in a report that automation may displace up to 75 million jobs worldwide, but will generate about 133 million new ones by 2022.
The automation of all these jobs will actually be helpful in giving people opportunities to upskill themselves, or use their skills for jobs that don’t make them feel like mindless drones.
In many factory jobs, for instance, workers do the same menial yet physically demanding tasks that machines can easily do for them. The human mind is capable of so much more than simply hammering a piece of metal and moving on to the next, every minute of their working lives.
Jobs like these can be left for machines to do instead, that way, these workers can find more fulfilling types of work that better suit their capabilities, as human beings.
In the same way, for copywriting, writers who are tasked to write the same standardised pieces of content like product descriptions or data-driven reports will eventually feel like machines, following a template where they only edit a few words and copy and paste information to fill in the blanks.
That’s what AI can do quicker and more efficiently.
There are many brands that already do this, and business giants utilise them since AI can create copy much faster than a human can.
Persado: One of the biggest banks in the world, Chase, is already using this NLG platform for their copy. Persado’s website describes its capability as:
“Persado’s cognitive content platform is a smart system that combines natural language processing and machine learning technologies to machine generate the precise words, phrases and images that can inspire any given audience to act, every time.”
Persado is one of the most popular and most advanced AI copywriters, as it has a way to mirror emotions in the copy. How it works is that the user can choose from a wheel of emotions, and what Persado does is look for the right words to use in the copy that best evokes the selected emotion.
Quill: Quill is an NLG platform developed by Chicago-based Narrative Science that creates comprehensive narrative reporting. Quill’s technology analyses and interprets structured data fed to it, to develop a tone and language that matches the brand.
Quill is known for creating narratives that don’t sound robotic and too template-based. USAA, Mastercard, and the US Intelligence community are examples of Narrative Science’s customers.
Wordsmith: Wordsmith is another renowned NLG engine that allows users to convert data in any text format. It transforms data into a personalised narrative and offers complete customisation in gathering data insights. Users can also create their own templates through Wordsmith to develop a writing narrative.
While there are brands that write the copy for you, there are also those that enhance your writing, such as Grammarly and Acrolinx, which help writers improve their spelling, grammar, and even their tone.
If a robot (or AI) can’t feel emotion, how can it write emotionally compelling copy?
With all this in mind, what will human writers still contribute to the copywriting space?
NLG platforms like Persado are already doing great in creating copy and they even claim to outperform human writers in content delivery.
Does this mean that copywriters will be completely replaced?
As advanced as AI is nowadays, robots are still machines with a limited capacity to communicate to us humans the way we do to one another. Sure, they can mimic human emotion to an extent, but they don’t have the capacity to feel it themselves, and hence, they’re unable to express emotions deeply and more importantly, genuinely.
Tools like Persado and Quill only have surface empathy. While Persado has an emotion wheel that contains a list of words that can be considered apt in expressing specific emotions, it is still the human mind that can string words together with such depth and beauty that will always be more impactful in evoking strong emotions.
It is the human mind that understands the nuances of the different ways to say the same word. Synonyms have a plethora of uses, despite how they have seemingly similar meanings— like how something ‘enchanting’ is more powerful than something that’s ‘pretty’. There are over 50 synonyms for ‘beautiful’, and each of them has their own unique and appropriate use where they will impact readers the most.
These nuances usually escape AI, understandably so. If a set of words are listed under the same meaning, the computer will end up using them interchangeably when it shouldn’t.
Google Translate is again a good example of this. If you type a rather complex sentence, translate it to a different language, then retranslate the output back into the original language, you’ll find that the meaning and structure of the sentence often changes.
AI still has yet to understand context the way that human beings do. The rules of programming are still black and white, whereas the human tongue paints with greys.
And without proper context, relaying emotion in a manner that appears sincere and genuine is harder to get right.
It is in our very unique human ability to feel emotions that we have the potential to express these emotions through words even better than the smartest computer ever could. And that’s what makes us the creative beings.
Creativity, emotion— as of right now and probably in the foreseeable future, robots cannot emulate these in full capacity yet. The absence of these in robots cause their inability to comprehend it fully, and consequently, their inability to simulate it with our level of authenticity.
So while it is a smart idea to leave the direct and template-like writing that we see in product descriptions and newspaper sports reports to AI and NLG platforms, as long as copywriting requires a strong emotional pull from its audience that only human writers can convey, then human copywriters are and will still remain invaluable.
With jobs for writing data-driven reports and copy rapidly being automated, career paths will open for writers, and these jobs will expand their field and allow them to take on copywriting work where they can use their creative juices more effectively. They can focus on writing more compelling stories that AI can’t do yet rather than wasting away typing up bland reports.
There will also be opportunities for more dialogue designers, linguistics officers, and scientific copywriters, among many others.
Would you trust a robot to represent your brand?
In one of our previous blogs, we explained the importance of humanising your brand and how it will attract an audience that will become loyal customers.
And what can humanise anything better than an actual human itself?
As yet, a robot can’t understand the intricacies of your brand and your customers. You still know your brand best. There will be complexities about your brand and your story that only a human can interpret completely and accurately.
One of our other blogs also explains how copywriting can follow a variety of themes. Each one is unique in its structure, purpose, tone, and depth. Right now, AI NLG platforms are only programmed to write copy a certain way, following specific patterns and templates. You will risk losing variety in your copy.
With how AI bots are programmed as of now, they also won’t be able to accommodate specific client requirements for their brand and not to mention the amendments that come along with them.
The reason copywriting converts is because it’s appealing and engaging
Capturing a reader’s emotions is what makes a story compelling. A compelling story is what makes something memorable. So, an emotion-provoking story for your copy will make your brand unforgettable.
In humanising your brand, storytelling always plays a key role.
Great storytelling has worked for centuries, as we said before, storytelling has been the primary method of exchanging ideas and information, even way back before humans could read and write.
Having AI take over the menial writing tasks will open career paths for copywriters that will maximise their creative potential and further develop their skills in writing and storytelling. With these opportunities, brands will become even more humanised, and copywriters will be able to focus on writing more engaging stories.
For now, let’s leave robots taking over the world to fictional Hollywood movies. As yet, a copywriter with feeling, emotion, and talent won’t be replaced by a machine.
“One machine can do the work of 50 ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” — Elbert Hubbard, writer and philosopher.