Almost Timely News: Should You Buy a Custom GPT? (2024-01-07) :: View in Browser
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What’s On My Mind: Should You Buy a Custom GPT?
Let’s talk more about Custom GPTs this week, because something big is coming: the ability for Custom GPT authors to sell access to their Custom GPTs beginning this coming week.
First, if you haven’t been following along, a Custom GPT is a service from OpenAI that allows paying ChatGPT users to create a customized version of ChatGPT. These customized versions contain three major types of functionality that allow for fairly extensive, mostly non-technical customization: custom instructions, knowledge, and actions.
Custom instructions are system prompts that run behind the scenes in a Custom GPT. They define what the Custom GPT is supposed to do, what rules it should follow, what it shouldn’t do, what outputs it has, etc. These instructions can be extensive, several pages long.
Knowledge is a form of retrieval augmented generation, a technique for increasing what ChatGPT knows about, especially for information that hasn’t been seen before. A Custom GPT can have up to 20 different databases in a variety of file formats, such as CSV files, plain text, JSON, etc. These knowledge databases give additional context to the Custom GPT; for example, you could upload a book you wrote, and the Custom GPT would be able to reference it when it’s answering questions.
The third type of customization are actions. These allow a Custom GPT to call out to an API based on the conversation. For example, if you enabled the weather action, and then had a conversation with the Custom GPT asking about the weather, it would call whatever API you provided and return the weather results. It’s vitally important to note that when an action is triggered, a part of your conversation is being sent to a third party provider of some kind.
Here’s a screen grab of my Custom GPT that I built:
You’ll note the custom instructions at (1), the knowledge at (2), and the actions at (3).
When you interact with a Custom GPT, it behaves like ChatGPT, and may have different ChatGPT capabilities enabled, shown at (4). Custom GPTs can have web browsing enabled that allow a Custom GPT to access the web via Bing, image generation with the DALL-E image generator, and advanced data analysis using Code Interpreter. These capabilities are parsed internally within the ChatGPT application itself; neither the GPT creator nor the user has to explicitly tell a Custom GPT what to do.
Okay, so that’s more or less what’s in the box of any Custom GPT. Why would you buy one of these things? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
First, a Custom GPT may have knowledge that simply isn’t available elsewhere, or is curated in such a way that it would be more time and labor intensive to recreate than it would be to simply buy it.
Second, a Custom GPT may perform tasks in a way that are better than what you can develop on your own. A Custom GPT programmed with the latest in advanced prompt engineering techniques like priming representations and tree of thought may outperform what your prompts can do, making it a better use of your time to use a Custom GPT than doing it yourself.
That leaves the one big question we need to answer: how do you know what to buy? There will be no shortage of people selling access to Custom GPTs, and you can expect a significant amount of redundancy in them. There will be dozens, if not hundreds of marketing and content creation Custom GPTs, each claiming to do wondrous things that ChatGPT cannot (which is inherently untrue since they’re literally based on ChatGPT).
So let’s talk about how we would evaluate a Custom GPT as to whether or not we should buy it, or how to tell the difference from one to the next. There are five considerations I’m looking for that you might want to look for, and unsurprising to anyone, they mirror the Trust Insights 5P framework: purpose, people, proces, platform, and performance.
First, purpose. Does the Custom GPT specifically align with a purpose in such a way that it’s worth my money instead of my time to build myself? This is critical – like any software purchase, do requirements gathering to ascertain what’s important and what isn’t. If your requirements gathering shows that you’re looking to write blogs in a specific way, there’s a good chance you could build your own Custom GPT instead of buying one. If your requirements gathering shows that you want to write blog posts exactly matching a specific author’s style, and that author has a Custom GPT for that purpose, then the ethical thing to do is buy that author’s Custom GPT.
Second, people. Who made the Custom GPT? Are they trustworthy? There are at least two obvious ways data can leak from a Custom GPT. One is marked on the screenshot above at (5) – a Custom GPT author who allows a Custom GPT’s data to leak to OpenAI will inherently be sharing your information with OpenAI. Second is in actions at (3) – any time a Custom GPT is sending out data to a third party API, that’s data going somewhere else. Where that data goes is important, so using Custom GPTs made by trustworthy people and companies is a vital box to check.
Third, process. How was the Custom GPT made? What processes were used in its creation? This is all about asking what the ingredients are inside the Custom GPT – like a nutrition label on a food product, the best Custom GPTs will disclose what they’re made of. Ideally, you get a screenshot of the configuration screen like the one above that doesn’t give away any secret sauce, but you can at least see how it’s wired.
Equally important, how will it be maintained? Part of the reason to even buy a Custom GPT rather than build your own should be the task of maintaining the Custom GPT. How fresh is its knowledge, and how frequently will that knowledge be refreshed? How tuned in is the creator, so that when OpenAI changes the underlying model, the Custom GPT seller can provide evidence they’ve tested to show their software will continue to work as intended?
Here’s a key ethical question: does a Custom GPT use data that the creator has a right to use? It’s trivial to download, say, a book written by someone else and put it in a Custom GPT. That Custom GPT then has an expanded context based on the book. It will soon be illegal to use copyrighted data without permission in the EU, and ethically it’s pretty clear that using someone else’s data without their permission doesn’t feel great. If your own work were being incorporated AND SOLD by someone else with you receiving no benefit, you’d probably not be real happy (this, by the way, is the primary argument against generative AI model makers). This is part of process – evaluating what works are part of a Custom GPT. You definitely don’t want to be financially supporting an author who is using others’ works without permission or compensation. (and this will require Custom GPT makers to understand copyright law in their jurisdiction)
Fourth, platform. As mentioned above, data can leak out of Custom GPTs. Prompt jailbreaks can force language models to spit up source information. A key question to ask of a Custom GPT maker is how much red teaming – the process of trying to break into your own software – was done. How tested was it? When you buy an electrical appliance, it’s customary to look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification that certifies it’s probably not going to randomly burst into flames. When you buy a food that’s certified halal, you know the processor has been inspected and tested to ensure they’re compliant. There’s no equivalent standard yet in AI (though there are many efforts to come up with one), but at the very least, a software vendor – because that’s what a Custom GPT author is – can provide documentation about how they tested their software.
And any Custom GPT claiming that it is totally secure or unbiased is flat out lying, because the underlying foundational model is still ChatGPT’s GPT-4 family of models. Custom GPTs inherit all of the benefits and flaws of the foundation they’re built on.
Finally, performance. Does the Custom GPT actually do what it says it does? How would you know? The burden of proof is on the Custom GPT builder to provide information about how their Custom GPT outperforms stock ChatGPT or a novice effort at building your own. This can be as simple as side-by-side comparisons of outputs so you can see the prompts and the outputs that make a Custom GPT worth the money.
If you are considering putting one of your Custom GPTs in the GPT Store (or even just sharing it publicly), be sure you’ve done your homework to provide users with the 5Ps I’ve outlined above. Doing so right now is a best practice; when the EU AI Act becomes law, parts of the above process will be mandatory – and any Custom GPT author making money from their Custom GPTs will absolutely have to comply with it, because there’s no geographic restrictions on Custom GPTs.
If you are considering buying a Custom GPT, take into account each of the 5Ps and ask the provider for their documentation. If you have two Custom GPTs that purport to do the same thing and one of them lacks documentation, it should be pretty clear which one you should buy. Just as you wouldn’t blindly eat a food without a nutrition label (especially if you have allergies), nor should you blindly trust someone else’s AI-led software. And remember they are still built on ChatGPT, so the same rules apply to Custom GPTs as with ChatGPT itself – don’t put in data you don’t want other people to see.
Will I be putting up any Custom GPTs? I have a couple of candidates that I might put up for free in the GPT Store, just so that I can see how the store functions (apparently, free to use Custom GPTs will be an option), but I don’t see myself offering them for sale. I’d rather have you spend your money on the Generative AI for Marketers course, frankly. It’ll give you more benefit.
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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it
Besides the new Generative AI for Marketers course I’m relentlessly flogging, I recommend
- Almost Timely News, December 31, 2023: Three Words and Four Enemies of 2024
- Almost Timely News, December 24, 2023: Why Mistral’s Mixture of Experts is Such a Big Deal
- So What? Generative AI in 2024
- In-Ear Insights: Generative AI in 2024
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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If you work at a company or organization that wants to do bulk licensing, let me know!
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.
- Amazon Ppc Manager at True Hero: Amazon Marketplace Strategy
- Cell Therapy Marketing Director at Kelly
- Digital Design Director at Robotproof
- Digital Sales Manager at Primary Services
- Director Of Digital Success/Account Management at Best Version Media
- Director Of Marketing at Auxo Solutions
- Director Of Search – Remote at Ten Golden Rules
- Manager Of Employment Marketing at Ventura Foods
- Marketing & Strategy Manager at Sustainable Generation
- Marketing Manager at Digioh
- Marketing Manager at GGWP
- Marketing Strategist at Alchemy Worx
- Senior Abm Demand Gen Marketing Manager at Journey
- Sr. Integrated Growth Strategist at Cro Metrics
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
- TikToks Planning To Boost Its In-Stream Commerce Spend 10X in 2024 via Social Media Today
- By the numbers: How Gen Z uses AI, social media via PR Daily
- 3 Tools to Use Instead of LinkedIn Elevate (Now That Its Gone)
Media and Content
- AI Content Detection: Bard Vs ChatGPT Vs Claude
- What is Evergreen Content? A Beginner Guide With Best Tips
- Content Repurposing Strategy: From 180k to 1.2M Followers
SEO, Google, and Paid Media
- How to use SEO keyword research for public relations campaigns
- What Is Zero-Click Content and Why Should You Create It?
- SEO Trends in 2024 and How to Adapt
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
- Rise of Generative AI in Design via Analytics Vidhya
- Does ChatGPT Know Your Company? via Practical Ecommerce
- OpenAI will open its custom ChatGPT store next week via The Verge
Analytics, Stats, and Data Science
- 20 Best Web Analytics Tools: How to Make the Most of it?
- Exploring Digital Analytics Trends for 2024 via Portent
- Hands-On Guide To Librosa For Handling Audio Files via Analytics Vidhya
All Things IBM
Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff
- Disney Cruise Ship Performs New Year’s Eve Rescue
- My 3 Words for 2024 — Chris Brogan – Proximity
- The Year of More — C.C. Chapman
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:
- Tourism Industry Association of Alberta’s Tourism Summit, Edmonton, February 2024
- Social Media Marketing World, San Diego, February 2024
- MarketingProfs AI Series, Virtual, 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
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