Content. It’s a blessing and a curse.
Content is at the core of marketing and so many other areas of business. From product to business intelligence to sales to customer care and support, HR, legal (this list goes on) businesses are tasked with curating, aggregating, creating, publishing and making sense of growing volumes of content.
A few years ago, I conducted research on content marketers’ greatest pain points. The clear winner? Creating content. The need for more content, for better content, for enough content, is burning through marketing departments charged with feeding the beast — many beasts, in fact; all the channels, media and platforms that demand text, video, images… all of it content.
Organizations and content marketers alike are locked in a continual struggle to build, implement and scale effective content strategies, never mind achieve context and meaningful personalization. For content marketers, creating enough content, not to mention content that is specifically tailored to specific audience and/or persona types, or to content creators generating “commodity” content (e.g., sport scores, weather reports, stock market results, etc.) is onerous, time- and labor-intensive and can be a significant cost-center.
Read More: 7 Sure Shot Content Marketing Trendsautoma
There’s a lack of trust in content, not to mention real context and personalization. From fake news to social media surfacing untrusted content, companies find themselves hiring armies of human content reviewers. There’s the problem of information saturation. Consumers and workers alike are overwhelmed with information volume, with notifications and email.
There’s a growing need to organize and synthesize content, particularly for information workers (financial services, corporate development, VC’s). Not only is content hard to track, but information velocity is steadily rising. Measurability is also more difficult; are you publishing in the right format, on the right device, around the appropriate topics? Creating and publishing more content obviously isn’t the solution when engagement rates are at an all-time low.
The rise of automation, most notably Artificial Intelligence, marks a shift in the nature of how content will be created and indeed, how we will work. Content ideation and production is no exception. From research to design, from the creative process to distribution, applying AI to content changes how teams work.
Jessica Groopman and I just published new research on this topic, “Automated Content: How Artificial Intelligence Impacts Content Throughout the Organization.”
Together we spent over a year talking to senior marketing and business executives about how they use technologies — overwhelmingly AI — that automate content creation and publication, as well as content organization, analysis and niches such as hyper-personalization and localization. We very quickly learned that automated content is hardly limited to marketing and advertising. It has massive implications for a variety of businesses and business verticals such as HR, legal, customer support and service, publishing and media industries, business intelligence, product and more.
Content Automation Opportunities
Our report contains a portfolio of detailed case studies on how businesses are leveraging content automation for a variety of needs and use cases. Consider this handful of examples:
Scale: AP went from creating 300 quarterly earnings reports to over 4,000 articles using Wordsmith software to turn company data into full articles.
Resource Allocation: Those AP writers who were formerly churning out template earnings reports can now dedicate their efforts to much more interesting and challenging work that requires more human skills, e.g., investigative reporting.
Production Automation: Wibbitz is a tool that can take the video production process down from 4 hours (using traditional video editing software) to a 10 second to 5-minute turnaround, generating a short video to accompany a blog post or article. The writer need only input text into the platform.
Customer Support: Not everyone thinks of chatbots as a form of automated content, but they are. They can handle routine customer inquiries and even pass cases back and forth to human agents when the need arises. The result is lower costs to the organization, alleviating tedium for human agents, and happier, swifter outcomes for customers.
The case examples go on and on. AI can sort and organize content, recognizing images and pictures and linking concepts, greatly increasing the efficacy of tools like a digital asset management system (DAM). Attorneys can find case law, legal precedents and even use AI to help craft contracts and arguments in court. Marketers are using AI to hyper-personalize content and offers. AI can analyze huge amounts of data, creating reports, recognizing trends and finding opportunities for business intelligence.
Read More: 2019’s Content Strategy Primer
Risks and Needs
Content automation doesn’t just happen. Organizations must clearly define needs and prepare carefully for the opportunities automation can provide. Herewith, a few considerations:
The first ingredient is data. Automation won’t be cost or time-efficient if there isn’t enough data to power the narrative. Even if a company is digitally focused, data is often dispersed, or it isn’t organized in a way that is ready to be used by an automated content system.
Unstructured data still problematic. The data that goes into a system determines what comes out. It must be correctly formatted for this purpose.
The approach must be multi-disciplined. Automated content requires a variety of viewpoints to make sure content is on brand, aligned with communications strategy, is accurate and flows from available data and systems.
Transparency and data permissions are imperative. Organizations that use information customers and prospects don’t know they have can creep people out or even violate laws.
Automated content is still in its infancy, but we predict that over the next five years it will take hold, particularly in larger organizations that have already invested significantly in data, Marketing Automation systems or both. If that applies to your business, it’s time to start educating yourself about this new, but nascent, field.