AI copywriting is here to stay so we better be friends (part 1)

Author: Johannie van As - Senior copywriter

The first AI-written poem appeared in 1967, while the first AI-written book came out in 1984. Since then, especially given how quickly GPT-3 evolves, dozens of AI writing tools have appeared on the market.

Quick caveat: this whole article was written by a robot.

Just kidding, I’m still very much human. But it could’ve been – that’s the (scary) beauty of AI writing. Automated copywriting using artificial intelligence is slowly creeping into the content world. Every day, it’s helping thousands of people write anything from web copy and emails to scripts, blogs and social media posts. AI is also writing interview questions, song lyrics, poetry, bios and start-up pitches. If it can be written, it seems, it can be AI written!

Chatting to other copywriters, our reactions veer between “this is complete nonsense” and “hang on…should I worry about my job?”. In a nutshell: no, AI writing is definitely not nonsense and is very much here to stay, and secondly…not in the least!

In this blog series, we’ll explore what AI writing is, the pros and cons of using it, and how it can actually make your life easier. We’ll also look at what humans can do that AI cannot.

What is AI copywriting?

Ever played the sentence game? Running with a story based on the sentence you see is basically what these AI writing tools do…but on steroids. Most of these AI assistants use GPT-3 – the revolutionary AI algorithm created by OpenAI. GPT-3 (generative pre-trained transformer) is the most powerful language model ever, using a machine learning method based on artificial neural networks (called deep learning) to generate human-like text. With a whopping 175 billion parametres, the GPT-3 model was trained on 45TB of text data from various sources, including Wikipedia and books.

AI writers are actually nothing new. The first AI-written poem appeared in 1967, while the first AI-written book came out in 1984. Since then, especially given how quickly GPT-3 evolves, dozens of AI writing tools have appeared on the market.

How does AI copywriting work?

If you’re a fan of Grammarly, then you’re using a type of AI-writing tool already. Grammarly uses an AI system to not just check spelling and grammar but also enhance your writing: making your words more concise, encouraging you to use more creative/novel words or sounding more confident. It uses something called natural language processing (NPL) – here’s a quick Crashcourse on NPL.

What NLP is

So how does an AI tool actually work? Think of it like a writing buddy with built-in research, tone of voice adjuster, grammar and spelling checker, optimised SEO, and an endless supply of ideas (even if they are a bit non-sensical). Top AI tool Jasper positions itself as a “Google doc, without the mental block”. You typically choose a template, give it some inputs (title, keywords, brief description, tone of voice) and hit the ‘generate’ button. Within seconds, it spits out relatively well-written headlines, paragraphs or conclusions. These templates can be used in ‘free style mode’ – letting you craft your own copy and help along the way – or get you started with pre-populated templates.

Some AI writers to check out

1. Jasper: The OG of AI writing, Jasper was started in 2016 and boasts over 50 templates, covering everything from copy for Google ads, Instagram captions and landing pages, to video script hooks, a headline maker and conclusion writer. Its long form copywriting is particularly impressive. Some templates that caught my eye were Creative Story, Explain It To A Child and Ridiculous Marketing Ideas. The latter is very clearly a joke with suggestions bordering on the ridiculous as in the case of these ‘novel’ ideas to promote Cape Town’s Fritz Dog Hotel which made me smile – though the cocktail bar is perhaps not the worst plan?!

2. Writesonic: This AI-powered writing assistant calls itself the ‘Canva for writing’, in other words it’s there to empower everyone in the world to write anything and publish anywhere. With 40+ templates, it claims to spit out SEO-optimised copy in 15 seconds.

3. Copy.ai: Write better marketing copy faster is how Copy.ai positions itself. However it also has templates for case studies, general business and fun (wedding vows, anyone?).

4. Rytr is the AI-powered writing tool that helps you create high-quality content, in seconds. Instead of templates, it offers you ‘use cases’ to produce things like emails, blogs and ads in 30+ languages and 20+ tones like Awestruck, Compassionate and Assertive.

5. Simplified is the marketer’s friend – ‘the design and collaboration platform for modern marketing teams, taking you from idea to launch in minutes’. What’s interesting about Simplified is that it also AI-driven design, video and animation tools, social media scheduling and team collaboration.

6. Nichess: Writing aside, Nichess helps you find niches, come up with business ideas and generate content. It’s quite smart going for specific business types like eBay, Amazon and YouTube but also industries like electronics, fashion, events, gifts and subscription boxes.

My verdict: there’s definitely a place for it

Scepticism aside, I enjoyed playing around with these tools. It seems well crafted to free up a writer’s time coming up with outlines for long-form copy, or if you want to finesse, repurpose or cut down on a current piece of writing. Conceptual copywriters can use the business idea generator to spark inspiration or even play around with the script creator to make funny or suspenseful video scripts. You still have to give it quality inputs, fact check and finalise it, otherwise it might look like this bot-created Olive Garden commercial: 

Touching on a previous blog post titled AI in art and music, we see how AI is getting better and better at emulating human creativity. Aside from copywriting, writing on the whole is an essential business skill that could gain much from AI and, as a result, benefit both professional and non-professional writers.

In our next blog, we’ll look at the pros and cons of AI writers. Want to know more about custom designed content for your business? Then get in touch with our Content Design team.

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