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Generative AI: We’ve been here before

Generative AI will lead us to the next revolution in marketing – but it’s one we’ve seen before. Learn why and two trends that will emerge.

4 min read

Digital TechnologyMarketing

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Generative AI is all the buzz, but the rise of technology like generative AI is not new. We’ve seen this level of technological breakthrough before with the advent of digital photography and smartphones.

These technologies made everyone a photographer because everyone had the ability to take pictures on demand. PR account executives were tasked with taking event photos, office assistants were asked to take executive portraits for website bios and products were photographed by creative directors – all of which could be used as is or touched up in Photoshop or another image-editing program.

But in reality, not everyone had the talent to be a professional photographer (though their photos were used in professional settings), let alone be a good, quality photographer. The drive to cut costs or the availability of digital retouching software too often eliminated the need to spend budget dollars to pay skilled, professional photographers. (And, if you’ve built your career on writing, as I have, you felt – and feel – photographers’ pain. Just because you can write, doesn’t mean you can write well.)

Generative AI is the same way.

Through tools like ChaptGPT, SoundDraw, Synthesia and DALL-E, anyone can seemingly produce the same results as those who have honed their craft in graphics, writing and even coding.

With some well-worded prompts, creative or coded magic can happen.

2 trends that will emerge from generative AI

The rise of generative AI will bring about two shifts, with one being at the job market level.

The implementation of generative AI will require retraining. It’s inevitable; just as it was in the labor market when digital photography emerged and grew. 

It also will present new opportunities.

Just recently, we had a story in our marketing newsletters about the rise of job skills for “prompt writing” (which could be labeled as a Prompt Engineer). This type of title will be needed because you won’t get quality output without quality input — meaning you will need skilled workers. These prompt engineers will need to be strategic and know the proverbial “big picture” while also being able to successfully deliver on short-term campaign objectives.

Editing and fact-checking also may take on greater importance as there will be a greater need to check the drafts of content –  be it writing or art – to guard against copyright infringement, plagiarism and other illegalities.

The role of the marketing strategist will expand. With the internet-wide power of generative AI at our fingertips, the potential for what marketing campaigns could entail will only be limited by strategists’ imaginations. Campaigns will be created at near warp-speed thanks to the time savings that generative AI offers. 

Strategic nuance will be key to differentiating your brand from competitors – in creative, content and technology.

The second trend that will definitely happen will be the rise of contrarians. 

I’m a firm believer that, ultimately, a fine-tuned and perfected human craft can’t be outdone by technology. I believe technology can enhance the work and come close to being equal – it takes a true pro to spot the differences – but it can’t do better.

I also am practical enough to realize that the cost and time benefits and “close enough” quality will be way too tempting for many brands and agencies not to freely use generative AI.

However, due to legal risks, there will be some brands and agencies that will rarely use generative AI for content. They have high standards (and skeptical lawyers) and will stick with people power.

There also will be those who simply won’t try to adapt to the new tech. They are successful enough with their traditional ways and will stick with their creative teams to craft content and create graphics. They will keep their existing vendors, too.

Like every technological tipping point, the growth of generative AI will be scary for some and start an amazing adventure for others. 

Generative AI is coming, so you’d better start thinking now about if you want to be scared or set off an amazing adventure.


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