It is becoming increasingly popular to hear of content agencies ‘manufacturing’ content. As unartistic as this may sound, when it comes to a content strategy, there’s no point re-inventing the wheel each time. Hardware companies don’t go about redesigning chipsets for every mobile phone sold and likewise, once you have a structure to your content, you can simply focus on fleshing it out, rather than creating new templates from scratch each time.
What this concept of content creation does is open the doors to automation. How? Well, whenever there is a question of a closed set being involved, robots always stand a chance of doing better than humans. Think of Google’s AlphaZero, the AI chess engine that has the power to foresee chess moves that appear all too convoluted for the human mind to even consider. But the question here is not really binary. Data from MarketsandMarkets already points to the global marketing automation industry growing at a CAGR of 13.9%, from 3.3 billion USD in 2019 to 6.4 billion USD in 2024!
Where the crux of the matter lies is in the role that automation plays in content creation. After all, content is not purely mathematics. One may think of ‘manufacturing’ it, with an eye on efficiency, but what remains is that, down the line, content is also an art. Yet, given that SEO and search engines already define the boundaries of the playground, certain rules do exist, and automation can play a hand in content creation, depending on whether you’re looking for snippets and blurbs or reports and whitepapers.
Some tasks ought to be automated with software
Content creation does follow a fairly predictable workflow: whether you are a standalone writer or part of an in-house team, the output cycle, if we may call it that, broadly goes from ideation to writing to editing and proofreading and optimization. In places where the ‘content manufacturing’ route takes you down the path of mathematics, automation tools can help you cut down costs and improve productivity.
Ideation: BuzzSumo’s tool is great for identifying topics that work well with a given keyword and CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer is indispensable when it comes to crafting click worthy headlines.
Proofreading: Grammarly does away with the need to look for a needle in a haystack; it checks for grammar and spellings in a way that exceeds the capabilities of office suites.
Curation: DrumUp helps you discover content that’s perfect for your target audience.
The same can be said about automating distribution, promotions, and workflow processes. Tools like MailChimp are simply part and parcel of marketing parlance.
Can robo-writers actually craft meaningful content?
The answer is really contained in the title, Lithium-Ion Batteries: A Machine-Generated Summary of Current Research. Believe it or not, this academic research book was published by Springer Nature, collating into a single volume thousands of scientific findings. In all honesty, it would indeed be an uphill task to single-handedly rummage through research papers and summarise them for the sake of further scientific analysis, and automation takes care of this efficiently. But does this mean that robo-writers have finally thrown content creators under the bus? Not so! The further you go from formulaic content and chatbots, and the closer you walk towards novel-style literature, the more difficult it is for Artificial Intelligence to mimic the vast capacities of the human mind.
What a robo-writer does is use a process called Natural Language Generation to churn out a narrative from the data it has. On a side note, this actually brings to the fore a serious concern - are robo-writers simply giant plagiarism machines feeding off the hard work of human writers? But given that you have the legal issues dealt with, Springer’s Lithium-ion volume is Exhibit A that automation is here to stay.
In fact, the Medium reports that Commerzbank, a German bank, creates equity research reports using AI, and the Associated Press uses AI to generate thousands of sports reports. And if you’d like to test the waters for yourself and see how far your brand can go with automated content, take a look at tools such as:
- Article Forge
Given this context, what if AI and human writers can co-exist? That way, there is a ready tool to chip off chunks of the marble, while you apply the final brushstrokes to the masterpiece. So, automation needn't completely do away with human intervention. By taking on the burden of research, for instance, it can spur writers to immense creativity.
While marketing automation is quite common in India, we are miles away from content automation. That said, it pays to keep an eye trained on the future and adapt to, what we believe, will be the new normal in strategic content marketing. How effective this will be, however, is certainly a different conversation.