A human being rote this headline

A human being rote this headline

A human being rote this headline

Posted on 7th August 2019

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One of our marketing team, who fancies himself as a copywriter, once wrote a recruitment ad headlined “Squeeze my Lemons, Make Zamos very Happiness.” In case you are wondering (and I’m sure you are), it was for the Lemonhead brand of alcoho-pop (no, me neither), which at that time was being marketed by one of the big distillers. I haven’t remotely enough space to explain the creative rationale behind the ad, although it’s worth saying that it was phenomenally successful and was shortlisted in its category for the major UK rec-ad awards bash way back in the 1990s.

Why am I writing about this? Well, it’s because I have just read that my friend and colleague may soon be redundant because apparently AI can write headlines that are better than those devised by human copywriters.

America’s biggest bank, JP Morgan Chase, has been using Persado to write its ads.  Persado uses AI to work out the optimum blend of words to use in any marketing communication.  Or, as their website explains it:

“Our AI-powered message machine understands language and breaks down marketing creative into its critical elements: narrative, emotion, descriptions, calls-to-action, formatting, and word positioning.  The machine applies its understanding of language to a marketing brief from your team, creating the best message to speak to your customers in your brand’s voice across all channels. Every word makes the right emotional appeal with Persado’s AI-powered knowledgebase of more than 1 million tagged and scored words, phrases, and images in 25 languages.”

Does it work?  Well, apparently not only does it work, but copy written by Persado’s AI gets two to five times the response of copy written by traditional human copywriters.

For example, humans came up with “Access cash from the equity in your home” - with a “Take a look” button - and that raised just 25 applications in one week. In contrast, the “machine” came up with “It’s true — You can unlock cash from the equity in your home” - with a quick “Click To Apply” button – and got 47 applications in a week.

There are many other examples, but the bottom line is that JP Morgan Chase has now given Persado a five-year deal “to generate the highest-performing marketing creative” content using artificial intelligence, or AI.

Of course, the Mad Men of Madison Avenue are queuing up to say that this doesn’t mean that human creativity is going the way of the Dodo*.  However, JP Morgan’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kristin Lemkau, is quoted as saying, “Persado’s technology is incredibly promising. It rewrote copy and headlines that a marketer, using subjective judgment and their experience, likely wouldn’t have. And they worked. We think this is just the beginning.”

Of course, the $64,000 question is whether this means the end of the human copywriter – personified by advertising titans like David Ogilvy – and if so then what about media buying (already well down the programmatic road) and other elements of the ad industry? Here’s Kristin Lemakau again: “Machine learning is the path to more humanity in marketing.”  

But possibly not the kind of humanity that involves humans…

Michael Phair, Be-IT

* we, in recruitment, shouldn’t kid ourselves this might not happen to us one day!

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