For the past several years, marketers have been eager to adopt more “automated” solutions. And for the most part, such solutions have been positive acquisitions. Automated software takes over tedious or low-skill tasks that would otherwise prevent marketers from doing more important things, and can crunch numbers more efficiently than even the most experienced human data analysts.
In one specific field, content marketing (and the closely related fields of social media marketing and SEO), automation seems to be advancing extraordinarily quickly. So how much longer before the entire field is taken over by automated software?
The Robot Journalists Are Coming
For content marketing to be completely taken over by machines, AI algorithms would need to be able to produce and publish content that’s indistinguishable in quality from that of a human writer, and we’re years away from that happening… or are we?
In reality, odds are good that you’ve already read at least one article that was written entirely by an algorithm. Since as early as 2015, the Associated Press has been relying on AI algorithms to generate more than 3,000 new articles every quarter. That’s a lot of content, and these robot journalists have been tackling the job with incredible efficiency and accuracy. For now, they’re somewhat limited in their capacities; most robot journalists only cover stories that are fact-based and easy to report. For example, sports scores, stock updates, and weather forecasts rely on objective data, and follow a model that’s relatively easy to understand.
But could a robot ever become good enough to replace a human for something like an opinion piece, or coverage of an event with complex political repercussions? Opinions across the industry are mixed, but there is enormous potential here that extends beyond human capabilities.
For example, robot journalists of the future could start customizing articles based on the individual preferences and circumstances of the people reading them. For instance, a political event unfolds, and an algorithm writes about how it affects your job and your family. Or a war begins, and people in different countries get different perspectives of what’s going on.
Algorithms of this complexity are years, if not decades away, but AI is becoming better at an impressive rate. In just a year or two, it could feasibly move from producing clickbait to rivaling low-level human-generated articles. In five years, human writers may only be necessary for the most creative or most complex content marketing work.
Automated Marketing Platforms
In addition to AI algorithms that write content, there’s already a host of automated marketing platform solutions available to content marketers. These are some of the most important functions that are already being covered for most brands:
· Scheduling. One of the most popular categories of automation tools are automatic schedulers, which allow you to write or automatically generate posts for your social media accounts, and schedule them at intervals of your choosing for the indefinite future. It spares you the hassle of logging in every time you want to make an update, and improves your ability to oversee broad posting patterns as well.
· Tracking. Almost every digital marketer also has an automated way to track incoming web traffic, conversions, lead flow, and individual topic performance — in terms of links, shares, and engagements. Without this data, marketers would be flying blind, but the data available to us is too complex for it to be a manual job.
· Notifications. Marketers can also receive automated notifications of certain events, such as if their brand is mentioned on social media, or if one of their articles hits a certain popularity threshold. This takes much of the guesswork and redundant checking out of the process.
· Organizing. Finally, many platforms offer marketers automated ways to update their editorial calendars, organize their upcoming material, and even correspond with the team.
Already, these tools have replaced various content marketing roles and responsibilities — but they still need people to oversee them. In the future, they’re only going to grow more sophisticated in capabilities, and more diverse in what they’re able to accomplish.
Increasing Standards for Content
So are we on a one-way track to a robotic takeover of the content marketing industry after all? I feel it’s important to note that we’ve been seeing an increase in quality demands in the content industry for many years now, and it may be a significant contributing factor to how automation AI is able to secure a foothold as an industry staple.
As competition for content visibility and customer loyalty increases, quality standards must also increase if you want your brand to have a chance at standing out. Accordingly, if the market is flooded with articles that were programmatically written by the same types of software, it may only create more demand for more creative pieces.
The Big Picture
AI and automation have already shaped the content marketing industry to a startling degree, and the industry is still growing with plenty of new jobs for humans — so if you have fears that automation could make your job obsolete, you can rest easy. If anything, the nature of your work may evolve, but I doubt jobs are at risk any time soon.
Within the next 10 years, I imagine the capabilities of automated writers will meet or exceed those of many human writers, which means brands will be able to produce more material on a regular basis, and writers will be able to spend their time creating even better content. But as for content marketing ever becoming fully automated — I don’t see it happening.
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