Being Human: Why people still make better copywriters than AI
Okay, let’s admit it up front. We’re biased. A copywriter is writing this article, so they’re not about to take the side of their potential replacement. But let’s talk about it.
Is it time to let Artificial Intelligence take the reins for your marketing copy?
AI writers are growing in popularity at a breakneck pace. Not just for the memes, but for their increasingly uncanny ability to emulate what seems to be quality writing for web.
With popularity comes an ever-sharpening algorithm, and more sophisticated engines. Many of the most popular AI writing tools allow users to set precise parameters around tone, formality, even the creativity level. The results are incredibly convincing, there’s no doubt.
But is AI good enough, beyond the initial moment of marvel?
When it comes to some performance statistics, probably. But only as a baseline to work from.
AI’s ability to weave keywords into natural-sounding sentences rivals that of the best content writers, and does it in a fraction of the time. No question. But Google is wise to that tactic, like it’s wise to so many of the techniques that become mainstream and black hat in the world of SEO.
Google Search Advocate John Mueller was pretty pithy on the topic. “As far as I can tell, most sites have trouble creating higher-quality content, they don't need help creating low-quality content.” Ouch.
Mueller has talked extensively on the topic too, and currently machine written content is against Google’s guidelines. Simply, Google isn’t ruling out the day where AI can write well, but they don't believe we’re there yet. And definitely not in long form content writing.
Beyond Google, person-first content still reigns supreme. TikTok’s growing domination as a platform has seen it edging into search, largely because it’s perceived by Gen Z to be faster and more honest.
There’s growing conversation about the decline of Google, with experts and users beginning to blame the fact that search can be “gamed” by SEO and AI.
We asked an AI what they thought of the topic, and handily for us they agreed.
"Human copywriters are still needed as they can provide a sense of creativity and emotions to the content. They have a knack for understanding the audience and their needs which is something that AI writers cannot do.
AI writers are not a replacement for human copywriters. They just provide assistance to the content writers by getting rid of writer’s block and generating content ideas at scale."
But we have to admit - it’s eerily good, right? So why do you still need a person? Well for starters, it’s a little lacking in je ne sais quoi.
By nature of how AI writers work, there’s no room for originality. Creating a written composite of a ton of other people’s words on the web necessarily means that no unique thought is possible from AI writing.
Jokes about the originality of copywriters’ work notwithstanding, that spark of creativity is only possible through experience and invention - two traits it’s fair to suggest are uniquely human.
Secondly, short form copywriters needn’t worry - there’s no machine that can “Just Do It” or convince someone “A diamond is forever”. So aspiring Mad Men are as safe as they’ve ever been.
As the character count shrinks, the margin for error gets exponentially higher. All creative copywriters know that the short form tasks are the trickiest. It’s not word count that ups a price quote, it’s the head-scratching that goes into making a few words perfect.
Getting the square peg of a big idea into the round hole of character limits is a problem-solving exercise where creativity is the only fix.
Where’s it useful?
We’ll go back to our AI friend’s conclusion from before - getting rid of the dreaded Blank Page. We started this blog by generating that quote, after all. As an aide to writers, AI can be a great way to generate skeleton content that’s already designed to perform well for search.
With careful input, SEO-rich copy can be formulated for writers to edit and mold into something original and useful.
If there’s anyone that should be the dedicated handler for an AI writer in your business, it’s the copywriters themselves. Who better to coax the right result out of the machine than the person whose work helped create its intelligence?
But let’s not forget the ethical responsibility for copywriters towards their clients and audiences at large, especially in agency work. Great copy thrives and informs when it’s not only geared for search, but when it’s unique, relevant, and most of all interesting.
Maybe one day the machines will convince us of that part, but not just yet.