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100% of this newsletter was written by me, the human. When there is machine generated content, I will prominently disclose it.
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What’s On My Mind: Content Marketing Is In Trouble
I saw a glimpse of what the future of content looks like, and it looks great for us as consumers and as storytellers. As marketers? We’re in a whole lot of trouble. Here’s why. We’ve been talking about generative AI for quite some time now, ever since Stable Diffusion and DALL-E back in early 2022, then ChatGPT in late 2022. These tools fundamentally changed how we program computers because they take plain language prompts and convert them into instructions in ways that allow even the most non-technical person to gain substantial benefit from them.
I said a while ago that literally every piece of software that is at all complex to use will have some kind of natural language prompt system built into it within months; earlier pioneers like Hubspot’s ChatSpot showed appetite from customers for interacting with complicated software in easy ways – with prompts. Just recently, Microsoft announced that the Windows operating system itself would have natural language prompt capabilities system-wide, so even mundane tasks like “move all my PowerPoint files older than a year into a subdirectory called 2022 PowerPoints” will be easy.
Here’s an easy way to tell if a piece of software you use will have generative AI soon. If it has an API, or it has an internal programming language, it will have generative AI because the groundwork for code-driven interactions is already there. Windows and Microsoft Office have VBScript. Adobe has scripting tools. Blender 3D has scripting tools. Hubspot has an API, and so on.
The ease of use that generative AI provides is now showing up in creative tools. A short while ago, Adobe released a beta of Photoshop that allows for generative fills. You select something in your image, then type into the prompt what you want the rest of the image to be. While software like DALL-E and Stable Diffusion have had this capability, it’s not mainstream and it was kind of a pain to use. Photoshop makes that easy now.
But the big one, the eye-opener for me was the announcement of Unity AI. For those unfamiliar, Unity is a very, very complicated and capable programming environment used mainly by game studios to create video games. Some of the biggest and best video game titles are built in Unity, games you’ve either played or heard of. In the most recent release of Unity, 5.2, the company showcased AI-based generation of landscapes and other shortcuts to speed up game development. Go search for Unity 5.2 on YouTube if you want to see just how good it looks.
And then, just this morning, we stumbled upon Unity AI. What is it? You guessed it: prompt-based generation of video game content. Now instead of spending hours, days, or weeks painstaking constructing scenes, characters, and sequences, generative AI and prompt-based programming will help developers accelerate their work, get to a first draft much faster, and spend their time refining the first draft.
As with systems like ChatGPT, expect the first drafts to not be perfect, to not be ready to ship as-is. But what a first step, because today, the first draft for a top-tier title can take months, if not years, to create. Now, that sounds cool, but you’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with content marketing?
The Unity environment isn’t just for video games. Because of the complexity of its engine, you can make videos with it as well, scripted video. If you’ve played any of the current games built on Unity, you’ve seen video cutscenes filmed entirely with the gameplay engine. They look great – highly realistic virtual environments and characters acting out a script.
In other words, with engines like Unity, you can shoot cinematic video without leaving your desk. That in and of itself isn’t new, but up until now, that’s been impractical because of the huge number of steps you need to take just to assemble a single scene. With generative AI and prompt-based interactions? That’s going to be much, much faster – which brings film-making on a shoestring budget to a whole new level. Suppose you’re shooting a film and you want to shoot scenes or B-roll in other locations? With tools like this, you might green screen in your talent into environments generated in Unity – or you might not use any human talent at all.
Think about what this means for content creators. High-quality video production will be possible with prompt-based instruction, in the same way that music production, image production, and text production are today with tools like ChatGPT.
Look at fan and independent content creator sites like Archive Of Our Own. There are MILLIONS of stories that have been created by independent content creators on sites like those, written fiction that earns more traffic and more audience than most marketing content. Now imagine how straightforward it will be (not easy, but straightforward) to convert the best of those fiction pieces into videos, into series, into films.
Think about any TV series that you enjoyed which came to an end or got unceremoniously cancelled. With generative AI tools, fans – whether or not they have permission to do so – will be able to engineer their own rich content in those worlds and universes in the same way they write fan fiction today.
Do you see the problem for marketing? Yes, marketing will benefit from these tools as well, but there’s so much untapped originality, so much outstanding writing out there online, so many good ideas that would never get funding for a feature film or a streaming video series that could be turned into those forms of content with generative tools.
And that means marketing content, which is already not the most exciting content in the world, is going to fall further behind on people’s must-consume list. There’s an ocean of content about to be created that will easily out-compete marketing content because it’s simply better content, a better way for a person to spend their time. We are headed to the bottom of everyone’s to do list for the most part.
So, what should we marketers do? The solution is simple and extremely difficult: make content worth consuming. It sounds so trite, so cliche, so 2005, but it’s 100% true. Our competition is no longer Netflix and Disney+, but everyone who can and will make incredibly rich content with the next generation of content tools.
Suppose making content – even on the shoestring budgets these new productions will have – is just not in the cards for us. What then? Well, there are a variety of ways we can participate and create mindshare in these new worlds, new environments, new content authoring mechanisms. In systems like Unreal, you need assets – content pieces that the engine can build with, like tables, chairs, soda cans, etc. If you’re a brand that makes any kind of physical object, you should absolutely be engineering and freely giving away branded virtual objects. A soda manufacturer like Coca-Cola should be handing out free virtual soda cans and vending machines like candy – with licenses for developers to use them – as free product placement sooner than later.
Suppose you’re not able to do that. What then? The reality is that even though independent studios, film-makers, and game makers will all benefit greatly from generative AI for making content, it will still take time and money, just less of it. Your company could be the sponsor, the patron of productions that align with your values and your marketing strategy. A film that would have cost 10 million to make might only cost10,000 to make – but that’s still 10,000 people probably don’t have. Your company might not be willing to sponsor the creation of a10 million film, but would you sponsor a $10,000 film? That’s a lot more palatable – and if it’s a hit, then you get to ride the rocketship to the top of pop culture for your fifteen minutes of fame.
Your marketing, in the new world of outstanding independent content, might evolve to look more like marketing from a century ago, when companies sponsored content left and right in an attempt to gain mindshare in new media like radio and the television. Look around for content opportunities and build connections with creator communities sooner rather than later, because this tidal wave is almost ashore.
Finally, I want to reiterate something we’ve been saying for years now. AI isn’t going to take your job. A person skilled with AI will take the job of a person who is not skilled with AI, because that person will be able to do so much more, so much faster, so much better than the person who is not. If you want to remain highly employable, highly sought after, you need to be using these tools now, today, while they are still fresh and the disruption has upset the apple cart. This is your window, your opportunity to leapfrog less agile competitors, be they other job seekers or other companies. As we saw in the early 2000s with social media, the window doesn’t stay open for long, and once it closes, the winners are difficult to dislodge.
You could be one of those winners if you act now, if you skill up now. There isn’t a course or a book or a lecture to take, because they don’t exist yet. There’s only knowing what tools are coming in your industry and getting proficient with them now, building your community, your personal think tank so that your ear is to the ground and you’ve got early skills in your field.
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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it
Besides the newly-refreshed Google Analytics 4 course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I recommend the annual piece I do for Trust Insights about anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes. It’s not the most cheerful of pieces, but it’s essential for us to realize that celebrating things like Pride Month is important, but so is stopping violence and hate – and we can’t manage what we don’t measure.
- Anti-LGBTQ Hate Crime Data, 2023 Edition
- So What? Universal Analytics data migration
- Mind Readings: AI, Morals, and Safe Usage
- You Ask, I Answer: Over-Reliance on AI?
- You Ask, I Answer: How Do You Keep Up With AI?
- Almost Timely News, May 28, 2023: Can AI Truly Be Creative?
- Mind Readings: The Greatest Trick Politics Played
- Now with More Borg Baby Boimler!
Skill Up With Classes
These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.
- ⭐️ The Marketing Singularity: How Generative AI Means the End of Marketing As We Knew It
- Powering Up Your LinkedIn Profile (For Job Hunters) 2023 Edition
- Measurement Strategies for Agencies
- Empower Your Marketing With Private Social Media Communities
- Exploratory Data Analysis: The Missing Ingredient for AI
- How AI is Changing Marketing, 2022 Edition
- How to Prove Social Media ROI
- Proving Social Media ROI
- Paradise by the Analytics Dashboard Light: How to Create Impactful Dashboards and Reports
Get Back to Work
Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.
- (Junior / Senior) Data Engineer at Zelus Analytics
- (Junior / Senior) Machine Learning Engineer at Zelus Analytics
- Associate Director Of Paid Social at Evercommerce
- Associate, Operations – Sports Analytics at Zelus Analytics
- Content Marketing Lead at Aquent
- Director Of Growth Engagement, Global Solutions Marketing at Evercommerce
- Lead Analytics Sales Engineer at Piano Analytics
- Paid Media Specialist at Evercommerce
- Product Marketing Manager at Evercommerce
- Seo Koordinátor (Marketing) at TÜV SÜD
- Socius Marketing Ppc Analyst at Evercommerce
Advertisement: Bring My AI Talk To Your Company
I’ve been lecturing a lot on large language models and generative AI (think ChatGPT) lately, and inevitably, there’s far more material than time permits at a regular conference keynote. There’s a lot more value to be unlocked – and that value can be unlocked by bringing me in to speak at your company. In a customized version of my AI keynote talk, delivered either in-person or virtually, we’ll cover all the high points of the talk, but specific to your industry, and critically, offer a ton of time to answer your specific questions that you might not feel comfortable asking in a public forum.
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Pricing begins at US$7,500 and will vary significantly based on whether it’s in person or not, and how much time you need to get the most value from the experience.
What I’m Reading: Your Stuff
Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.
Social Media Marketing
- Snapchat Adds Visual Cues into My AI Generative Chatbot Experience via Social Media Today
- How The Instagram Algorithm Works For Stories, Feed, Reels, And Explore
- Facebook Is Testing How to Block News on Its Platform in Canada
Media and Content
- New Report Looks at Emerging Ad Targeting Alternatives in a Post-Cookie World via Social Media Today
- Summer lovin’: Tips for creating and rolling out a seasonal PR strategy via Agility PR Solutions
- Google Says Allow GoogleBot To Bypass Age Gate On Adult Content
SEO, Google, and Paid Media
- The Future of SEO: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning via ReadWrite
- 4 Technical SEO Tips For Multilingual Websites
- AI Pushes SEO to Social and More via Practical Ecommerce
Advertisement: Google Analytics 4
Believe it or not, July 1st, 2023 – and Google’s shutdown of Universal Analytics in favor of Google Analytics 4 – is in less than 35 calendar days. This means that in 38 days, you will no longer be able to capture data in Universal Analytics – it will just stop collecting data. If you haven’t already switched over, it’s urgent you do so right now. So, let’s get you moving.
Tools, Machine Learning, and AI
- Deep Learning with R via KDnuggets
- Keeping Artificial Intelligence Accountable to Humans via RAND
- Rethinking Human-in-the-Loop for Artificial Augmented Intelligence The Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Blog
Analytics, Stats, and Data Science
- Data Analytics Helps Marketers Make the Most of Instagram Stories
- 43 Must-Know Retail Statistics for Small Business Owners
- Decoding Player Performance with Predictive Modeling
Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff
- RMS Empress of Ireland – Wikipedia
- suno-ai/bark: 🔊 Text-Prompted Generative Audio Model
- The State Of Being A Published Writer In 2023 Is Really Weird, And A Little Worrisome – Chuck Wendig: Terribleminds
Advertisement: Ukraine 🇺🇦 Humanitarian Fund
The war to free Ukraine continues. If you’d like to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has set up a special portal, United24, to help make contributing easy. The effort to free Ukraine from Russia’s illegal invasion needs our ongoing support.
How to Stay in Touch
Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:
- My blog – daily videos, blog posts, and podcast episodes
- My YouTube channel – daily videos, conference talks, and all things video
- My company, Trust Insights – marketing analytics help
- My podcast, Marketing over Coffee – weekly episodes of what’s worth noting in marketing
- My second podcast, In-Ear Insights – the Trust Insights weekly podcast focused on data and analytics
- On Twitter – multiple daily updates of marketing news
- On LinkedIn – daily videos and news
- On Instagram – personal photos and travels
- My free Slack discussion forum, Analytics for Marketers – open conversations about marketing and analytics
Events I’ll Be At
Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:
- MAICON, Cleveland, July 2023
- ISBM, Chicago, September 2023
- Content Marketing World, DC, September 2023
- Marketing Analytics and Data Science, DC, September 2023
- MarketingProfs B2B Forum, Boston, October 2023
Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.
If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.
Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.
Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.
Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.
My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.
Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.
See you next week,
Christopher S. Penn
You might also enjoy:
- What's the Difference Between Social Media and New Media?
- Almost Timely News, December 31, 2023: Three Words and Four Enemies of 2024
- Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, and Execution
- Almost Timely News, December 3, 2023: AI Content Is Preferred Over Human Content
- Almost Timely News, December 10, 2023: Where Generative AI and Language Models are Probably Going in 2024
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