How Artificial Intelligence Is Affecting Content

October 15th, 2017 by Adam Draper   |   Posted in Web Marketing

From self-driving cars to grocery line checkouts, artificial intelligence (AI) now plays a significant role in several aspects of everyday life. AI’s rise to dominance is just beginning, however, and experts anticipate that it will eventually determine how every aspect of society is structured — including the virtual sphere. B2B and B2C marketers ignore the threat (or opportunity, depending on personal perception) of AI at their own peril; those who successfully implement evolving AI technologies into their overarching content strategy can count on continued traffic in tomorrow’s post-mobile world.

Natural Language Processing

Hardly new in the content marketing sphere, Natural Language Processing (NLP) allows computers to more effectively derive meaning from human language. Although often used for automated question answering and keyword tag generation, the technology is most favored for its ability to recommend content, even when access to user information is limited.

As MediaPost’s Publisher’s Daily points out, the Washington Post recently harnessed NLP in hopes of improving its online readership; thus far, the results are impressive. Since adopting Clavis — technology that categorizes stories, assigns keywords, and suggests content based on users’ reading history — as part of its large-scale Post Recommends system, the newspaper has hit new online readership records, including 65 percent year-over-year gains in traffic.

Experts at Northwestern’s Knight Lab insist that there are clear divides between technology such as Clavis and traditional collaborative filters (such as Amazon’s “people who viewed this product” functionality). Although useful in some contexts, collaborative filters remain limited in scope, as they don’t know enough about content itself to make reliable recommendations. Experts predict that content-based recommendation engines will quickly replace collaborative filters for everything from online newspapers to eCommerce.

Anticipating Advertising Needs

New AI-based approaches to advertising stand in stark contrast to retargeting, in which users are often hit over the head with ads based on content they’ve recently viewed. In addition to anticipating the type of content users might seek, newer AI models will also determine when they need it, making advertising less intrusive and more anticipatory.

Furthermore, updated AI technology will improve accuracy of programmatic advertising. Programmatic platforms can already change information such as pricing and location based on real-time data signals; these capabilities are only bound to improve in the future.

Automatic Content Generation

As artificial intelligence’s scope continues to expand, its role grows to include not only content recommendation and programmatic advertising, but also the creation of that content in the first place. Next time you surf the internet for information, keep an eye open; several of the articles you read on a daily basis are generated by artificial intelligence, not human writers. Although currently not viable for most stories beyond stock updates, AI-generated articles and social media posts could constitute a greater share of future content.

The Role of Voice Search

Smart phone users increasingly rely on voice search for key tasks, such as determining the weather forecast or even locating nearby law firms. Modern content must therefore be optimized with the assumption that, rather than typing queries into a traditional search engine, users will vocally request information via Siri, Cortana, or similar applications. Voice already accounts for at least twenty percent of searches on Android devices, but ComScore believes that, in just three years, it will prompt half of all internet searches.

Voice searches barely mimic typical text-based searches, with those seeking information vocally using longer, more conversational keywords. Keyword strategy must therefore reflect how real people talk. Although this calls for a more nuanced approach to content marketing, new data collection tactics indicate that information gathered by voice may play a greater role in companies’ overarching advertising strategy. Xavis global president Nicolas Bidon anticipates a more fluid experience, in which artificial intelligence and voice recognition move beyond programmatic to a more sophisticated model he dubs “programmatic creative.”

Artificial Intelligence For Content Removal

In addition to creating and posting content, artificial intelligence already plays a critical role in its swift removal — a role that is bound to expand as social networks and other content providers respond to growing security threats.

In a recent blog update, global policy management director Monika Bickert and counterterrorism policy manager Brian Fishman explained that Facebook does not intend to give terrorists a voice. Advanced image-matching technology will determine whether recently uploaded photos and videos are identical to content uploaded by groups defined as terrorists.

Although artificial intelligence will be responsible for identifying and removing threatening content — and ensuring that it’s never uploaded in the first place — human moderators will work hard to ensure that freedom of speech remains a hallmark of the social network. This is likely the same role human employees will play as artificial intelligence takes over other aspects of content marketing: supervising content, rather than actively posting it.

Lack of Preparation

Unfortunately, despite every sign indicating AI’s coming takeover, most marketers remain woefully unprepared for the new virtual frontier. In a recent BrightEdge study, a whopping 66 percent of B2B and B2C marketers admitted to having absolutely no plans regarding voice search. Furthermore, only 31 percent of respondents believed that voice search could be the “next big thing.”

Content marketers are similarly unprepared to handle other aspects of artificial intelligence’s takeover. Although many referred to AI as “the next big thing” in BrightEdge’s recent survey, 57 percent claimed they were unlikely to implement any AI elements in the coming year. Over a quarter were shockingly behind the curve, instead referring to mobile as “the next big thing,” when, in fact, the transition from desktop to mobile is old news.

Content providers who actually recognize the growing role of AI and voice recognition remain paralyzed by the fear of rapid change, especially as many have just begun to make the switch from desktop to mobile. SEO expert Michael Kant recommends that overwhelmed marketers first focus on maintaining a consistent message across all platforms. Ultimately, however, there’s no avoiding AI; those who embrace the technology will enjoy greater user engagement, and those who avoid it will become irrelevant in the fluid content landscape of tomorrow.