Almost Timely News: AI Content Is Preferred Over Human Content (2023-12-03) :: View in Browser
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100% of this newsletter’s content was generated by me, the human. When I use AI, I’ll disclose it prominently. Learn why this kind of disclosure is important.
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What’s On My Mind: AI Content is Preferred Over Human Content
Today, let’s talk about a really, really important paper in generative AI. This is from September of 2023, so it’s not terribly old, but it’s very interesting. The title of the paper and the study is Human Favoritism, Not AI Aversion: People’s Perceptions (and Bias) Toward Generative AI, Human Experts, and Human-GAI Collaboration in Persuasive Content Generation, by Zhang et al, from the MIT Sloan School of Business.
Let’s dig into what the study did. Working with consulting firm Accenture, the study looked at 4 different content creation scenarios: human only, AI generated and human edited (what they call human augmented), human generated and AI edited (what they call AI augmented), and pure AI generated. They did this with the GPT-4 model in the consumer ChatGPT interface, the same one you and I pay $20 a month for.
Participants had to create 5 pieces of persuasive copy and 5 pieces of straight up ad copy. Each piece of content had to be 100 words or less. The ads were for an air fryer, projector, electric bike, emergency kit, and a tumbler; the persuasive copy was for five causes – stop racism, recycle, get more exercise, wash your hands, and eat less junk food.
After they gathered the created materials, they enrolled 1203 participants to score the content in a survey. The population was gender-balanced with a median age of 38. They were broken into 3 groups – uninformed that AI was involved, partially informed, and fully informed. Partially informed meant the survey participants knew AI was involved, but they didn’t know whether any given piece was generated by AI or not. Fully informed meant they know whether a specific piece was generated by AI or not.
They were specifically asked 4 key questions for each piece of content – satisfaction, willingness to pay, and interest for the ad content, and persuasiveness in the persuasion content.
So, what happened?
Well, this is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable.
The AI content was rated higher than human content, across the board. And in groups where people didn’t know whether the content they were reading was AI or not (partially informed) or had no idea where the content came from (uninformed), survey participants found AI content more satisfying than human or human-led content.
Well, it’s been nice knowing you.
Here’s an even more interesting twist: when people did know that AI generated the content, they rated the content more favorably – a clear bias for humans. However, when they knew AI generated the content, the raters didn’t ding AI for being the creator. So people may favor human-led content, but they don’t penalize AI for AI-generated content.
What does this all mean? It means that for anyone in content creation, the use of AI isn’t going to harm your marketing. In the uninformed trials, AI content outperformed human content, both for ads and persuasive content. That’s a big deal – it means that the machines did a better job than highly-paid consultants. And in cases where people knew AI was at work, they didn’t downrate the content because of AI, though they did bias themselves more favorably towards human content when they knew it was human-led.
This means that fears AI is going to create a sea of garbage may be overblown. Certainly, skillful use of AI will lead to skillful content, and unskilled use of AI will lead to the same boilerplate marketing garbage we read all the time. But the cost and time savings are massive; highly-paid consultants invested a lot of time and effort into their tasks (though the study didn’t say how long), and ChatGPT spent seconds. The authors point out there are massive capital savings to be had, when AI generates better results than humans in a fraction of the time – and those results are measured in real-world tests, not synthetic benchmarks.
The critical takeaway for many of us is that disclosing the use of AI didn’t harm survey participants’ perception of the content quality. That means it’s safe to use AI to generate content AND tell the truth about it, that you used AI to generate the content.
The human bias also means that you can use human-led content with disclosure as a marketing tactic. People perceive content that’s human-created as more favorable (even if it’s lower quality) simply because of our bias towards people.
And that means in the big picture, it is always worth disclosing the use of AI. It doesn’t harm audience perception, and when you have human-led content, disclose that to take advantage of our bias towards human-led content.
(this is also why I disclose my use of AI and usually make my newsletters almost entirely by hand, because I want to take advantage of that human bias, too!)
Now, this study will also have repercussions. Because AI content is better than human content in a real world test, and it’s so, so much cheaper to have AI generate content than human content, organizations which are cost-focused are going to use AI much more – and they may not disclose its use. That imperils the jobs of content creators because you’ll need fewer creators overall. This is something that aligns with what we’ve been saying forever – a person skilled with AI will take the jobs of people who are not skilled with AI.
What you take away from this study and what you do with it are up to you and how your organization values people and productivity. The reality is this – if you get better content out of AI and you get it much faster and much cheaper, organizations which measure productivity based on how much good stuff you can get quickly at the lowest cost are going to use AI for everything. If you work for such an organization, you need to get skilled up right this very minute, because that organization will retain fewer workers. If you work for an organization that values the organic, hand-crafted artisanal content approach, then you’ll probably use AI as part of the creative process but it won’t replace the process in whole.
Either way, now is the time to get comfortable with AI, because it’s doing a better job than we are.
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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it
Besides the new Generative AI for Marketers course I’m relentlessly flogging, I recommend the pieces I did on the dangers of excluding your content from language models.
- Mind Readings: The Dangers of Excluding Your Content From AI
- You Ask, I Answer: Is Art Made by AI Really Art?
- You Ask, I Answer: Open Weights, Open Source, and Custom GPT Models?
- Almost Timely News, November 26, 2023: ChatGPT Turns 1. What Have We Learned?
- Use Generative AI for Marketing!
- In-Ear Insights: Social Media Marketing Basics for Food & Beverage
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.
- 🦾 Generative AI for Marketers
- 👉 Google Analytics 4 for Marketers
- 👉 Google Search Console for Marketers (🚨 just updated with AI SEO stuff! 🚨)
- ⭐️ 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
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Workshops: Offer the Generative AI for Marketers half and full day workshops at your company. These hands-on sessions are packed with exercises, resources and practical tips that you can implement immediately.
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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.
- Analysis Manager, Game Analytics at PlayStation Global
- Analytics And Data Science Manager at Intrepid Digital
- Data Engineering Manager at PlayStation Global
- Email Marketing Manager at Coursera
- Qa Engineer, Data Validation Job at Murmuration
- Senior Analyst, Sales Analytics at Harnham
- Senior Analytics Engineer at PlayStation Global
- Senior Game Data Analyst at PlayStation Global
- Senior Search Engine Marketing Analyst at Omnitail
- Senior Web Analyst (Google Specialist) at Tomorrow
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
- 6 Ways Social Media Impacts Consumer Behavior via Sprout Social
- Instagram Story Analytics: How to Measure the Metrics that Matter
- Judge Says Montanas TikTok Ban Is Obviously Unconstitutional via Techdirt
Media and Content
- 96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here’s How to Be in the Other 3.45%
- Zero-Click Content: What It Is and Why You Should Create It
- The Scoop: Layoffs come for both legacy and new media outlets via PR Daily
SEO, Google, and Paid Media
- Keyword Mapping for SEO: How To Do It Free Template
- Small Business Experts Spill Their Top SEO Secrets
- How Topic Authority Impacts SEO via Practical Ecommerce
Advertisement: Business Cameos
If you’re familiar with the Cameo system – where people hire well-known folks for short video clips – then you’ll totally get Thinkers One. Created by my friend Mitch Joel, Thinkers One lets you connect with the biggest thinkers for short videos on topics you care about. I’ve got a whole slew of Thinkers One Cameo-style topics for video clips you can use at internal company meetings, events, or even just for yourself. Want me to tell your boss that you need to be paying attention to generative AI right now?
Tools, Machine Learning, and AI
- A year ago, it was just ChatGPT now LLMs are everywhere via VentureBeat
- GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After ‘Unexpected’ Delays
- Researchers Extend GPT-4 With New Prompting Method
Analytics, Stats, and Data Science
- 70 Content Marketing Statistics to Bookmark for 2024
- 15 Guided Projects to Sharpen Your Data Science Skills
- Building A RAG Pipeline for Semi-structured Data with Langchain via Analytics Vidhya
All Things IBM
- How generative AI delivers value to insurance companies and their customers via IBM Blog
- Supercharge security operations: How to unlock analysts productivity via IBM Blog
- Unlock the potential of generative AI in the IBM Generative AI Fundamentals Specialization on Coursera via IBM Learning Blog
Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff
- Dolly Parton partly funded Moderna Covid vaccine research – The Irish Times
- Let’s talk about why the gun control debate is about to change…. – YouTube
- Dolly Parton Invested Royalties From Whitney Houston Cover In Black Community : NPR
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 Threads – random personal stuff and chaos
- 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
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Events I’ll Be At
Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:
- Social Media Marketing World, San Diego, February 2024
- MarketingProfs AI Webinar, Online, March 2024
- Australian Food and Grocery Council, Melbourne, May 2024
- MAICON, Cleveland, September 2024
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:
- Almost Timely News, December 3, 2023: AI Content Is Preferred Over Human Content
- Can Causation Exist Without Correlation? Yes!
- Do People Use Social Media During the Holidays?
- What's the Difference Between Social Media and New Media?
- How To Determine Whether Something is a Trend
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