A year or so ago, I had a rude awakening.
I was sat in the boardroom of a marketing agency with a couple of clients. I’d presented some creative work. All had gone swimmingly. The client was sold. Boom.
It was one of those days when you remember why you really love your job.
But later in that meeting, in a casual conversation, a word popped up that burst my little bubble. Persado.
It was only mentioned in passing and I was curious, so after the meeting I did some digging.
I learnt that Persado is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that writes email subject lines.
Subject lines that human copywriters normally write.
Copywriters like me.
Put bluntly, I was bricking it. But there was more…
It turned out that Persado didn’t just write subject lines. It wrote lines that would outperform those written by humans.
And apparently it would outperform us 100% of the time.
Now don’t get me wrong, writing subject lines is only a tiny part of a copywriter’s role. And to be fair, it’s a part I’d happily hand over to a robot.
But that’s not the point. The fact was, if a machine could write subject lines now, what could it do in the future?
And so began the fear…
I read a lot on the subject of AI marketing. I saw headline after headline about robots taking our jobs.
You know the ones I mean? They’re usually accompanied by a Terminator-like robot image.
I started to fret. So much so that I shared my dread with two close friends: “I have deep concerns about robots,” I told them one day.
They laughed out loud, and told me to seek professional help!
A small part of me agreed with them. I was feeling a bit doom and gloom.
But then again, I was also absolutely fascinated by what I’d read about AI – and its potential.
This was at the time when Google Deepmind AI Go player had just beaten the human Go world champion. A supposedly impossible feat.
McCann’s in Japan had recently revealed a new AI creative director.
Machine learning was detecting skin cancer better than experienced dermatologists.
(And Netflix was serving up some spectacularly good recommendations for me.)
So, I embraced the fear
I carried on reading.
I ate up every AI-related TED talk, consumed podcasts on my bike ride to work.
And watched my husband roll his eyes everytime I mentioned AI. Which was a lot.
But it was worth it.
The more I learned, the more I realised that machines are pretty amazing. Rather than enslaving or replacing us, they could actually enhance our capabilities.
Now, eighteen months after my initial terror, I don’t see our world as human versus robot.
Instead, I believe that creative minds and intelligent machines can do seriously great things together.
In fact, we already are.
And here I am
Machine Queen. October 2018. Co-founding a startup and writing a blog with that very belief in mind.
Every week, I’ll be exploring the potent combination of minds and machines. My focus will be mainly on advertising/marketing, but I can’t promise I won’t go off piste occasionally.
What to expect
There will be AI marketing and martech news.
There will be AI experiments. (Mainly conducted by myself and my partner in crime, Richard Norton.)
There will be AI terminology put into layman’s terms (because, as a copywriter, I love the challenge of turning the complex into something simple).
And there will be inspiration for creatives and marketers. Often in the form of great campaigns that have used ideas and machines together.
Campaigns like the one that made it possible for JFK to deliver a speech posthumously.
AI creative that gave seven million Italians a completely unique jar of Nutella.
And chatbot marketing that got people conversing with Einstein.
I don’t pretend to know everything about AI. Far from it. I’m a creative, not a coder. And I have so much more to learn.
But, as with all pioneering businesses right now, I’m ready for the adventure. And this blog is where my exploration into creativity and machines will continue.
I’d love you to come along for the ride.
Up for it?