AI In Marketing Will Never Replace the Human

It’s quite telling when nearly every writing gig I apply for insists that I not use AI writing tools. There are three kinds of marketers: those who fear AI, those who are obsessed with it, and those who use it correctly: as a tool. Do you think AI will replace humans in marketing in the future? I don’t, and here’s why.

AI’s Modern Role in Marketing

According to Statista, AI in marketing will rise to $107.4 billion by the end of 2028. The recent boom in artificial intelligence has a lot of people excited, worried, and curious. A CNBC / SurveyMonkey survey from June 2023 reported that 24% of workers are worried they’ll lose their jobs to AI. 46% of respondents worked in marketing. Most importantly are the demographics: most of these people who are worried are women, people of color, and lower wage workers.

CNBC / SurveyMonkey: Are You Afraid You'll Lose Your Job to AI?
76% no 24% yes

Data is at the center of reaching the hearts and minds of customers. AI excels at handling data like this. Algorithms parse through massive datasets finding trends and patterns that would take humans unfathomably long to understand themselves. Chatbots help reduce long customer service queues. Image generators can create just about anything with the right prompt engineering. AI has taken over the marketing world.

If AI can do all of these things that humans do, when will it begin to replace us entirely?

How Businesses Respond

Some businesses embrace AI, while others shun it for their workers. Apple and Samsung both have banned the use of ChatGPT by their employees. As much as I’d like to twist this and say they are­­­ afraid of AI, that’s certainly not true. Their reasoning is that they don’t want their employees to unknowingly feed confidential information to 3rd party AI that could impact their business interests.

A screenshot of an UpWork job listing for a writer role that prohibits any AI content.
Whoever posted this UpWork listing doesn’t want AI-generated content. My question is, how tolerant are they of AI-assisted content?

However, I do know there are plenty of people out there who insist that contracted writers shouldn’t use AI at all in their work. It’s not just about information security, it’s fear and a desire to crush plagiarism. That last part I certainly agree with. Screw plagiarism.

Humans Are Special

As it stands right now, AI is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to completing specific tasks. It can write stuff, it can make images, it can sort through impossibly large datasets with ease – it seems superhuman. However, it’s not human. It might be good at one of those tasks, but it doesn’t see and think like we do.

Humans vs AI

TaskBetter for HumansBetter for AI
Handwriting RecognitionNoYes
Speech RecognitionNoYes
Image RecognitionNoYes
Reading ComprehensionNoYes
Language UnderstandingNoYes
Common Sense CompletionNoYes
Critical ThinkingYesNo
Strategic ThinkingYesNo
Empathy and Communication SkillsYesNo
Physical SkillsYesNo
Table info from Visual Capitalist.

Humans are special because we can create and learn in ways that AI can’t replicate. This has everything to do with marketing’s central premise: connecting with other humans. That’s something that only humans can do. AI can help us in achieving that goal, but humans have to be at the center of it.

Connecting With Your Audience

AI is exceptionally good at completing tasks and sorting through data. However, it’s not as good at empathizing with humans, understanding their needs and and coming up with strategies and approaches to meet those needs. Humans may not always be excellent writers, designers, and programmers, but when they are, they do so with intention and understanding of others.

In marketing, our goal is not just to produce high quality content as fast as possible. You can’t automate genuine human connection and understanding.

AI is Biased

Another major issue to consider when using AI tools to create content is training data bias. If the training data isn’t diverse enough or is biased in some way, that bias will reflect in the output of the AI. If we rely too heavily on AI tools to create content for us, AI will not consider the perspectives, views, and needs of minority voices.

According to the University of Stanford’s AI Index Report, controversial AI incidents have increased substantially. The number of incidents reported in 2021 was reportedly 26 times greater than in 2012 (p. 133). While I believe much of this increase is due to AI becoming more widespread in various industries, that doesn’t change the fact that those controversies are accelerating. We have to act to mitigate the issue.

Something Interesting

A white Google Nest Mini speaker

My roommate often is frustrated that our Google Assistant speakers don’t seem to understand her much. Despite training it through Voice Match, the speakers not only respond to me more than her, they think she is me. If she dictates, “turn on my lights” it turns on the lights in my room instead more often than not. The running joke in the house is that the speakers are sexist.

If we want to advance the efforts of transformative justice, it’s important to include the voices of marginalized communities in the training process. However, for those of us in the marketing sector not directly building those AI systems, we can help fight back by applying our best judgement and perspectives into what we write.

The Folly of the AI Content Writer

If opportunities I see out there are so adamant about applicants being humans, I’m sure there is a whole category of people out there who lean on AI and prompt engineering as if it will get them rich quick. Apply for 10 jobs with AI-written resumes, send off 100+ automatically generated blog posts, and then rake in all the cash. However, it doesn’t work like that.

Instead, their resumes look uncanny and strange, having mistakes and outright lies. The content doesn’t truly connect with the reader, and it all has a very similar, dull tone. The folly of these AI content writers is that they fail to achieve the most important part of the marketing process: understanding and connecting with their audience.

AI Is a Marketing Tool, Not Magic

Harvard Business School Professor Karim Lakhani says, “AI is not going to replace humans, but humans with AI are going to replace humans without AI.” Although I am skeptical of the copyright violations that businesses running large learning models have committed with their training sets, I tend to agree with Professor Lakhani. AI is the next big wave, but it’s not going to replace humans, only augment them.

A photo of Karim Lakhani
Professor Karim Lakhani.

What these ‘AI content writers’ should understand is that AI can write your resumes and blog posts and other content for you, but it’s not going to be as effective as genuine, human-created content. If you do as I do, and use AI as a tool to help me come up with keyword ideas, draw up article outlines, come up with ways to rephrase text, and do research, then it can make you a much more efficient writer. That’s just it though, you are the writer, not the AI. The AI isn’t magic, it’s a tool

What About AGI?

This topic deviates a lot from AI in marketing, but I just wanted to briefly mention that yes, I’m sure that artificial general intelligence (AGI) might throw some of my points in this article for a loop. Something with beyond human level intelligence in the near or far future would definitely change the world, but it still wouldn’t be human. I’m genuinely curious how significant that will be, but as of this moment I believe that humans will be the best at connecting with other humans.

Something Interesting

AGI is predicted to either revolutionize our world or destroy it. Here’s a great video that I found that talks more about how AI experts from today and decades ago think about AI safety..

How I Leverage AI in Marketing

As a SaaS content writer, I use AI in my work, but it’s not my most important tool. My imagination and experience are far more important. I use AI to help make my work more efficient, like helping me come up with ideas for article titles, keyword generation, and research.

I am highly concerned about attribution. Everything I write that uses information from elsewhere I want to cite and add a link to. It’s the right thing to do. It’s also one of the reasons I’m so skeptical of AI art. So many works stolen for training data with no attribution or compensation. That frightens me.

I’m excited to see how AI in marketing continue to blend the best parts of humanity with the greatest strengths of technology. I’m curious how your startup or business will do the same. Let’s work together to see that future through.

Featured image by Possessed Photography on Unsplash.

Liam Shotwell: SaaS Content Writer

I’m a human B2B SaaS content writer with a focus in SEO. I’ll shine a light on your brand to help you find potential leads lost in the dark of SERP.

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