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Five Ways GENERATIVE AI Will Revolutionize Digital Marketing Over the Next Few Years

In Summer 2022, the internet was ravaged by a new tool that seemingly popped up out of nowhere. DALL-E Mini, a scaled-back version of the then-unreleased DALL-E 2, had just been released to the masses. Like magic, after taking close to two minutes to generate four low-quality images, it could seemingly produce any image you prompted it to imagine.

Unsurprisingly, the tool’s initial use was to give way to the creation of outlandish images, depicting R2D2 in the trenches of World War II, or the Pope caught doing a backflip on a street camera feed. We didn't have a clue at the time, but this new form of image generation had been the start of a new technological revolution, which over the last almost-two years has completely changed the digital landscape. AI is everywhere.


Comparison between AI generative image models
Dall-E Mini vs. Dall-E 3

Arguably more consequential was the release of ChatGPT 3 from Open AI, the same company that made DALL-E. ChatGPT put generative text AI into the hands of the public for the first time in an especially easy-to-use chat-box UI. ChatGPT has since advanced significantly, with its dataset growing to almost 3x more than that of its initial release, with features expanding to include advanced image generation, document reading, live internet searching, and “custom GPTs,” which allow any individual to build specialized chatbot models for a range of different needs.

Such technologies have revolutionized small-business marketing, making it easy to generate copy for a host of different scenarios, whether you’re generating an Instagram caption, writing a blog, or creating an advertisement. While the technology isn’t perfect, and often needs human oversight to correct mistakes or fact-check claims, it has made many of the troubles of creative marketing accessible and affordable for many businesses.

It’s important to note that these new developments in generative AI are fairly fresh and are nowhere near the peak of what generative AI has to offer. OpenAI, as well as companies like Google, Bing, Meta, and even Apple are gearing up to showcase what is next. Developments in the technology, and changes in perception around AI are sure to have profound effects on how we do marketing over the next couple of years. It’s important that you be ready for what’s next so that you do not fall behind… or even, get ahead. You’ll see what I mean.


Generative AI Will Supplement the Role of Search Engines

It’s safe to predict that over the next few years, the way we search for things will change drastically. Even Google is gearing up, adapting its search engine to integrate with new generative AI technology.

Where today, most people utilize search engines to ask fairly broad and general questions, even if to answer a super-specific one, the future will utilize the power of generative AI. Unlike current search engines, a chat-box-like model allows users to ask follow-up questions, and receive context-conscious responses. In addition, generative AI makes it a lot easier for individuals to ask ultra-specific questions, giving context, and receiving substantive responses. It’s rather the ability to perceive nuance that gives generative AI chatbots the advantage over traditional search engines.

Google, the most popular search engine, is currently building out Gemini, a chat-box which has the ability to comb over Google’s rather large index of information. When utilized, it could be an excellent tool for research and quickly searching Google’s unbeatable collection of information.

In practice, placing a query on Google will prompt a summary at the top of the page, showing you a basic overview of the search results. For businesses who practice common SEO tactics, such as blog and article postings, this summary may either benefit you or severely hurt you. If you already have a large reputation in your industry and location, a query of “Best company in [industry here]” will likely see you boosted to the top, without any extra effort. New companies, however, could potentially struggle, having to focus their efforts on pay-per-click advertising, just to be seen in the case that Google’s AI summary overlooks your company.


Though it should be said that it’s not exactly clear yet how this technology will be fully implemented. In practice, it may hurt the visibility of smaller companies, as potential customers will likely look no further than the pre-generated summary.

Adapting to this change also means work now. If you’re not already investing time into SEO and organic search engine optimization, today may be the time to start.


Generative AI Video Will Revolutionize Content Creation

On to something a bit more fun, generative AI video. But you should be warned, content creation is about to get a whole lot more… competitive.

Since the introduction of DALL-E and the subsequent explosion of similar competitors like MidJourney or Bing’s CoPilot, small businesses have found success utilizing generative AI to make their content more professional… at least that has been the attempt. Some successful, most not so much as customers have become keen on recognizing the use of AI, especially in photos of people. Though it’s important to remember that the technology can only get better, and will.

OpenAI’s Sora is the next big thing, bringing AI video generation to a whole new level. While it had existed previously, it had never been all that good. In fact, it’d been prone to producing levels of horror never thought possible. See the linked video if you want to know what I mean…

Sora is unique, and goes beyond the still image generation of DALL-E, in that it can create scenes with realistic lighting and physics that seem indistinguishable from real life. Though, again, it’s not perfect. Though again, again, it can only get better.

On public release, we will likely see AI video spread across the internet and become a normal facet of our everyday digital experience. Where once stock-video had a similar effect in bringing high production shots to video of any kind, AI video will be far more accessible and affordable, turning what would’ve been low engagement content into something new and incredible.

Your video content should therefore adapt. Whether you choose to give in to AI is up to you, and is not a necessary requirement to stay competitive- that is not the message I wish to convey. However, you should utilize original and high-quality content if you aren’t already.


Generative AI Will and Change Web Digital Marketing

Even with tech companies like Google taking action to alleviate the stress that AI content is putting on their search engine, it’s unlikely that AI will cease in its use in SEO. You see, Google is not opposed to AI. In fact, they have been very vocal in embracing it as the future, however, it cannot be ignored that the ease that AI offers individuals in producing mass amounts of content is unparalleled.


There has never been a point in internet history where content creation has been so easy, and so internet search engines have been flooded. Flooded by AI written articles, many low-effort and created for the sole purpose of skewing search engine results towards elevating a site’s ranking, even if undeserved. It’s been viewed as a sleazy way to manipulate Google’s search engine algorithm to boost organic traffic without actually producing content that is useful and answers customer’s questions.


AI is not necessarily bad for articles; it saves time and can still be used to address critical questions that customers may have about a company or its services. But when used to produce bulk content, it’s lazy and has potential long-term negative impacts on society’s ability to find true, genuine information.


Therefore, you must be smart. If AI is your friend, use it wisely and learn to communicate with it to receive above-surface-level responses, and fact check its output. AI is prone to mistakes, and can convincingly justify any statement that it is given; so you must be cautious. Sometimes, this just means being conscious of AI’s faults and tendency to produce low-effort responses. Your prompts must be complex, specific, unpredictable, and should address mistakes in expected results before the AI is even given the chance to respond. It can be a difficult skill to master, and I will likely write more about it in the future.

Above is a recent video from OpenAI's showcase of Sora. The technolgy is undoubtedly impressive, and unless told otherwise, isn't immediately clear that is not real video footage.

Just as with the previous future predictions, in order to compete effectively, you must continue or begin to produce high quality and original content, or it will be buried under the mass amounts of content that is filling the internet. You must approach with creativity, and a motive to produce engaging and useful content to stand out- whether it’s human-made or not.


Consumers Will Reject the Use of AI In Marketing

Arguably, we live in the moral economy, a system where consumers make decisions based on a company’s ability to meet virtue-based obligations. We see this in how consumers react towards companies based on their environmental stances, or public position on [political issue here.] Fill in that blank however you please… This isn’t say that every consumer is affected by this form of thinking, but it’s likely never been more prevalent than today.


Graph displaying concerns about AI among Americans
Pew Research Poll, 52% of Americans Concerned About AI

The topic of AI is not an exception. Most Americans today believe that AI poses an existential threat to society, fearing the expansion of automation to supplement human work. In addition, some find AI to be an offense to human craft, with AI image generation models trained on real human artwork with no credit involved. Many feel that AI-generated content, copy and imagery, lacks soul and benefits no one in the long run.

According to a Pew Research poll, only 10% of Americans say AI is helping society more than it hurts. 52% of Americans think AI hurts more than it helps.


Over the next few years, we are likely to see major shifts in consumer behaviors in how they respond to AI in advertising. Recently, companies such as Wacom have been accused of utilizing AI imagery in their marketing, sparking backlash to their products. Consumer sentiments towards AI are likely to dampen further, with a potential widespread displacement of workers and a shift away from using human-made creative content in media production. The utilization of overtly obvious AI in advertising may harm a company’s reputation, but as the technology evolves and becomes less distinguishable, we may see that…


AI Will Be Embrace Anyway, Regardless of Consumer Concerns

If the last section scared you, then an optimistic view might say that AI could offer many benefits for humans. It may actually alleviate time for workers, increase productivity, and shift millions of people down to a 32-hour work week. This would boost workers substantially, allowing people to spend more time with their families and devote towards personal goals. This matters in that such a result could produce positive sentiments for the use of AI in marketing.


But who knows? Companies may choose to supplement workers anyway, despite the ramifications such a shift could have on the long-term job market. While many may reject AI in advertising, with it being safe to surmise that it can even be repulsive to a significant degree, most people cannot recognize when it is being used. We can guess that as the technology blossoms, we may see a further utilization of AI in all forms of “creative” marketing. It will only become even smarter, and capable of producing indistinguishable results when compared to humans.


Is this a future you want to live in? Well, you probably don’t have a choice. The hordes of AI content will be unavoidable, with the technology likely becoming even more accessible as time goes on. Even if AI is not embraced by the public, it will quite literally brute force its way into becoming normalized, whether you like it or not.


How should your small business respond to the use of AI? You should tread lightly. You want to stay competitive, producing high-quality, original content, human-made or not. But if you choose to utilize AI, you also need to be keenly aware of the social trends that surround your target demographic. The lines of how individuals respond and interact with AI content may differ based on age, education level, economic status, political affiliation, etc. Even if you use AI, you should use it in a way that is undetectable or blended with a human touch.


Conclusion

The future is unknown, that is a given. These predictions are made by analyzing current marketing trends and AI developments happening today. But tomorrow, a new competitor may enter the fray, or the government may impose new restrictions and regulations, affecting the outcome of these developments. Anything can happen.


Perhaps AI’s role in the future will be subdued, less prominent than we expect it to be. Perhaps it will be far more powerful and unpredictable, and everything I wrote here is useless. Regardless, these trends are important in giving context to the current day. You should be aware of AI’s role in search engines; you should be aware of what’s coming down the line like Sora; you should be aware of its outpaced ability to compete and impact your organic search performance; you should be aware of consumer sentiments towards its use; and you should be aware of its long-term impacts.

Doing so will undoubtedly boost your ability to perform against competitors, and add context to your strategy.

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