The Pros and Cons of AI-Generated Content in 2023: A Marketer‘s Guide

AI is revolutionizing content creation – but is it right for your brand? Discover the key benefits and pitfalls of AI-generated content, plus best practices to implement it strategically.

With the meteoric rise of AI writing tools like GPT-3, Jasper.ai, and Copy.ai over the past year, more and more marketers are wondering: Should we be using AI to generate our content?

The allure is undeniable. These tools promise to help you create blog posts, articles, web copy and more in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional content production. Considering that 47% of marketers say producing enough content is their biggest challenge (CMI), the efficiency gains of AI are game-changing.

But there‘s also a dark side to AI content generation. Search engines are cracking down on low-quality, AI-generated fluff. Factual inaccuracies and plagiarism are very real dangers. And an over-reliance on AI risks diluting your unique brand voice and thought leadership.

So what‘s a savvy content marketer to do? Let‘s dive into the key pros, cons, and considerations to help you expertly navigate the AI content landscape in 2023.

The Pros of AI-Generated Content

1. Massive Productivity Gains

The most transformative benefit of AI content tools is the sheer speed and scale at which they can generate high-quality drafts. Check out these impressive stats:

  • Jasper.ai claims their users can create content up to 5X faster with the help of AI.
  • Frase boasts that their AI tool cuts content production time by up to 12 hours per week.
  • Writer estimates that their AI "can produce 1,000 articles in the time it would take a human to write just one."

Churning out long-form blog posts in under 30 minutes is now possible with tools like Article Forge and Articoolo. Imagine what your content team could achieve with that kind of efficiency!

When 70% of marketers say they don‘t have enough time for content creation (Zazzle Media), AI isn‘t just a nice-to-have. It‘s quickly becoming a critical advantage for teams that need to produce a high volume of content on a limited budget and timeline.

2. SEO Gains with AI-Optimized Content Elements

Many AI writing tools have built-in features to optimize your content for search engines. They can analyze SERPs for your target keyword and provide recommendations for:

  • SEO titles and meta descriptions
  • Keyword-optimized headings
  • Optimal word count and content length
  • Relevant internal and external links
  • Semantic keywords and entities to include

For example, MarketMuse uses sophisticated natural language processing to evaluate content against top-performing pages for a keyword. It then provides an AI-powered content brief specifying the exact elements needed to compete in search, like this:

MarketMuse AI Content Brief

By generating SEO-optimized content briefs at scale, AI tools like MarketMuse can dramatically improve your ability to rank for high-value keywords. One case study found that a site using their AI tool increased organic traffic by 15% and rankings by 19% in just 3 months.

3. Reduced Content Costs

The efficiency of AI content generation often translates into significant cost savings. By automating larger parts of the writing process, marketers can produce more content with fewer paid writing resources.

Let‘s crunch some hypothetical numbers. Say the average cost of a 1000-word blog post from a freelance writer is $250. At that rate, producing just 4 blog posts per week will run you around $4000/month or $48,000 per year.

Now let‘s say an annual subscription to an AI writing tool like Jasper.ai costs $468/year for their Boss Mode plan, which allows you to generate up to 50,000 words per month. Assuming it reduces your content production costs and time by half, that‘s an annual savings of over $23,000! Even with some budget set aside for human editing and optimization, the ROI is substantial.

Of course, AI writing tools aren‘t free, and they can‘t fully replace human writers (more on that later). But when used strategically, they can certainly help keep your content costs in check as you scale. That‘s a major advantage at a time when 23% of marketers expect their content budgets to shrink.

4. Breaking Through Creative Blocks

Ask any content creator about the dreaded "blank page syndrome," and they‘ll tell you it‘s one of their biggest challenges. When your job is to constantly churn out fresh angles and ideas, even the most talented writers can hit a wall.

That‘s where AI shines as an instant creativity booster. It can help you:

  • Brainstorm engaging blog titles and subject lines
  • Outline key talking points for an article
  • Riff on unique content angles you may not have thought of
  • Provide detailed writing prompts to kickstart your flow
  • Remix and expand on existing content for fresh takes

For example, check out these blog post ideas Copy.ai generated for the topic "best practices for hybrid meetings":

Copy.ai Blog Post Ideas

Within seconds, you have a diverse list of relevant blog angles to choose from, each with pre-written title options and outlines. Talk about busting through writer‘s block!

As Agata Krzysztofik, Head of Marketing at Piktochart, puts it: "With AI, we can quickly generate a bunch of ideas, pick the best ones, and create content briefs in minutes rather than hours. It‘s a powerful tool for jump-starting our creativity and overcoming mental blocks."

The Cons and Risks of AI-Generated Content

1. Potential Plagiarism and Factual Inaccuracies

For all their advantages, today‘s AI writing tools are far from perfect. A very real danger is that they can sometimes reproduce text verbatim from their training data without citing the original source. Obviously, publishing plagiarized content can seriously damage your brand‘s reputation.

Jasper.ai puts it bluntly in their content guidelines: "Jasper has been known to reproduce exact snippets of its training data. Therefore, always check Jasper‘s outputs for plagiarism before publishing."

Beyond plagiarism, AI writing tools are also prone to generating statements that sound plausible but are factually untrue. Take this excerpt from an AI-generated article on astronaut life:

"During their time in space, astronauts have to exercise for 8 hours a day to prevent bone and muscle loss due to the microgravity environment."

While it‘s true that astronauts need to exercise in space, 8 hours a day is a gross exaggeration (it‘s actually 2 hours). Publishing content with blatant inaccuracies like this can make you lose credibility with readers fast.

The big takeaway? While AI content tools are getting better, they still require careful human fact-checking and plagiarism screening before publishing. Don‘t take the accuracy of their outputs for granted.

2. Search Engines Penalizing Low-Quality AI Content

Cautionary tales are emerging of websites that have seen massive drops in search traffic after publishing too much low-quality, AI-generated content. In a recent case, Neil Patel reported that a site using AI to mass-produce content saw its traffic plummet by a staggering 77% after Google‘s Helpful Content update:

AI Content Traffic Drop

Google is getting much better at identifying AI-generated content it deems unhelpful or spammy. As Danny Sullivan from Google stated, "Our focus is on ensuring we reward high-quality, people-first content. Content generated primarily for search engine rankings, however it is done, is our target for improvement."

The key lesson for content marketers? AI is a powerful writing aid, but it shouldn‘t be used to blindly churn out low-value, bot-like text at the expense of quality and reader experience. Google will sniff it out and potentially penalize your whole site.

3. Lack of Truly Original, Resonant Thought Leadership

Perhaps the biggest limitation of AI content generation is that it is inherently derivative. Since AI models learn from existing online content, they excel at distilling and combining popular ideas – but not at generating truly original thinking.

So while AI can certainly produce informative, factually solid content, it struggles with:

  • Offering provocative, against-the-grain opinions
  • Crafting emotionally resonant stories
  • Injecting your unique brand personality and voice
  • Developing new concepts and frameworks
  • Tying content to your brand‘s values and mission

In other words, AI-generated content often lacks the soul and thought leadership that separates the best content brands from the forgettable masses.

If you want your content to deeply engage audiences, differentiate your brand, and establish your organization as an industry leader, AI can‘t be your only strategy. You still need expert human writers who can:

  • Bring new ideas and insights to the table
  • Take bold, opinionated stances on industry issues
  • Develop strong, trusted relationships with readers
  • Tell authentic, emotionally compelling brand stories
  • Convey empathy and build community with your audience

As Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, explains: "AI can‘t replace the inspiration, imagination, and joy that humans bring to content creation. It may help us work more efficiently, but it will never be a substitute for the art of storytelling, the warmth of human connection, or the thrill of exploring truly new ideas. Those are the things that make content worth reading in the first place."

Best Practices for Balancing AI and Human Content Creation

Now that we‘ve explored the pros and cons, you may be wondering: what‘s the smartest way to leverage AI content generation for my brand? Here are some expert tips and best practices:

1. Use AI to Enhance Human Writers, Not Replace Them

The most successful content teams aren‘t looking at AI as an excuse to eliminate their human writers. They view AI as a complementary tool to make them more efficient and effective. Specifically, consider using AI to:

  • Generate SEO-focused content briefs to guide your writers
  • Assist with research and content outlining
  • Identify key questions and topics to address in a piece
  • Provide inspiration for content angles and ideas
  • Create short-form copy like meta descriptions and social posts
  • Repurpose and refresh existing content

Then, let your human writers focus on:

  • Adding their unique voice, insights, and opinions to the piece
  • Massaging AI-generated content to be more engaging
  • Validating facts and statistics
  • Bringing in original storytelling and examples
  • Optimizing content structure, flow, and formatting
  • Ensuring the content aligns with your brand messaging

2. Prioritize Quality and Reader Experience Over Quantity

With the ability to generate content at unprecedented scale, it‘s tempting to start cranking out mountains of AI-generated blog posts. Resist that urge.

Remember, Google explicitly states that content created primarily for search rankings – regardless of whether it‘s human or AI-generated – will be penalized. Your north star should always be creating genuinely valuable, reader-centric content that educates, informs, and inspires your audience.

A smarter approach is to use AI to produce higher-quality content assets that both readers and search engines love. For example:

  • Use AI to create more comprehensive, in-depth guides on topics your audience cares about
  • Let AI help you target long-tail keywords with highly specific, niche content
  • Leverage AI to optimize existing content and make it more relevant to users
  • Fact-check AI outputs against authoritative sources to maintain accuracy
  • Have human editors review AI-generated drafts to ensure high editorial standards

3. Take a Test-and-Learn Approach

Like any new content marketing tactic, AI writing tools aren‘t a set-it-and-forget-it solution. They require ongoing testing, analysis, and optimization to get the best results.

As you begin integrating AI into your content workflows, make sure to:

  • Start with lower-stakes content pieces like blog posts vs. high-visibility assets like pillar pages
  • A/B test AI-generated content elements (like titles and meta descriptions) to see what performs best
  • Closely monitor SEO rankings, organic traffic, and engagement metrics on AI-supported content
  • Continuously gather feedback from readers on content quality and helpfulness
  • Run AI-generated content through plagiarism checkers and manually screen for errors
  • Be prepared to adjust your AI strategy based on your program data and reader feedback

Over time, you‘ll get a sense for where AI content makes the most sense for your brand – and where the human touch is irreplaceable.

Conclusion

The rise of AI-generated content is both exciting and daunting for marketers. When leveraged strategically, it can be an incredibly powerful tool to improve content quality, efficiency, and ROI. But an over-reliance on AI at the expense of human creativity is a recipe for failure.

As we‘ve explored, the key is striking the right balance – using AI to make your human writers more productive and insightful, not to replace their unique voice and thoughtfulness altogether. When you combine the speed and optimization of AI with your team‘s industry expertise, storytelling chops, and editorial judgment, you‘ll be unstoppable.

Is integrating AI into your content workflows a learning process? Absolutely. You won‘t get it perfect right out of the gate. But the potential upside is too great for content marketers to ignore.

To stay competitive in an AI-powered world, it‘s time to start structuring your content organization, workflows, and skill sets around the possibilities of artificial intelligence. Your future content success depends on it.