It’s not often we’re shocked here at Webpresence, but a story that emerged last week left us pretty open-mouthed.

According to Campaign, Goldman Sachs has lent $30 million dollars to a New York City startup called Persado. Nothing really noteworthy there until you consider what it is that Persado does.

The startup lies in the ad-tech sector, and has created software which it says can automate copywriting for marketing campaigns.

If Goldman Sachs has coughed up that much money then Persado must be doing something right. Research suggests it is, with its international clients including American Express, eBay, Expedia and Vodafone saying they have seen a 68.4 per cent improvement on click-through rates when using Persado with their marketing campaigns.

How does it work, though? According to the company Persado’s software is able to create cognitive content to “generate a precise combination of words, phrases, and images that can motivate any audience”.Why We Hope The Industry Rejects Persado's Smart ContentWe think we’re looking here at the birth of ‘smart content’, and we’re not sure what to think. We’re not saying that because we like blogging; automation killing the creative is something we’ve written about previously. Even last week we mentioned how agencies are upset at the amount of head creatives leaving for Silicon Valley.

Frankly the idea of automated content sounds absurd, especially when Persado says its software’s copy and images “resonate with any audience, every time, and inspires them to act.”

For us, though, a statement like that makes us concerned about the impact of marketing automation on creativity, and puts digital marketing as a whole on a very dangerous path.

What do you think? Are we making a big fuss over nothing, or does the idea of automated copywriting also fill you with dread? Let me know in comments section below.

The write thing to do?

To reiterate: we don’t think marketing automation is bad. On the contrary; it can be incredibly useful in refining awkward jobs such as large-scale email communication and optimising user journeys toward the buying cycle.

We feel it has no room in a creative sense, though, and we’re turning our noses up at the likes of Persado. Why? Because we feel it doesn’t respect the audience you’re looking to sell to on a mental or a personal level, and that it shows the industry sleepwalking into a Soylent Green scenario.

That’s not an exaggeration. Data and the depth of targeting offered by social platforms has already helped to take marketing to a whole new level, but for our money creative automation is a step too far and will hit brands where it hurts concerning the human element.

In fact, it’s already something being felt by one of the world’s largest companies, Proctor & Gamble. The company is getting enormous returns and digital improvements from its programmatic digital media buying strategy, but is facing huge future obstacles (such as higher viewability standards) because of a reliance on it according to Advertising Age.

 

Data and the depth of targeting offered by social platforms has already helped marketing to a whole new leve

 

The site also mentions in a separate article that the growth of more sophisticated tech and data-driven technology is turning the industry into “a complex web of partners, competitors and frenemies”.

To us, it’s essential that the industry doesn’t substitute an obsession with data and returns for human elements such as originality, creative thought and – more importantly – the customer you’re trying to target.

Because creative effort counts for a lot in the two-way relationship between marketer and customer. If they discover that you’re using them essentially as targeted cattle in a data-driven campaign, you can expect to see a lot of another human element: anger.

What do you think the state of the creative internet marketing industry is? Is automation going too far with creative tasks or do algorithms have their place? Let me know below!

A creative conscience

Herding people into a sale through automation is at the sacrifice of reaching out and connecting with your target audience; short-term gains sacrificing long-term relationships and word of mouth.

Samsung and Cadbury are two recent examples of the importance of spotting new trends, people’s reactions to them, and harnessing their power with a creative angle that knocks competitors out and makes potential customers sit up and take notice.

Samsung’s North America chief creative officer, Jesse Coulter, recently hailed the impact virtual reality is set to have and how it’s the “next frontier of storytelling”; experiences something that automative software simply won’t be able to create and optimise for people.

Cadbury’s ‘Tastes Like This Feels‘ campaign, too, is using a hugely creative meme, and YouTube-based strategy to make real inroads with online audiences; again, spotting where people are spending their time online and identifying creative trends to carve a real niche for the company to get ahead of its competitors and wow its potential audience.

Again, something that a service like Persado and other automative software simply can’t predict and provide. Also, Google has recently (again) updated its search quality rating guidelines to demand a de-emphasis on supplementary content, a push for local, mobile, and huge importance on EAT (Experience, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).

 

Creative automation is the first step to killing off basic marketing ideals

 

For long-term inbound campaigns the annual volatility of the algorithms of the world’s largest search engines and social media platforms means creative automation software could prove as much a hindrance as a help as it struggles to keep up.

And that’s all without mentioning the human element, and one of the most important cornerstones of marketing that has existed throughout the years. Understanding what customers need and value to build long-term relationships in a positive way.

For us, creative automation is the first step to killing off that basic ideal in the search for nothing more than profit. We hope we’re proved wrong and that the industry sees what we’re seeing; until then, we’re happy to meet our clients for lunch and sit around the table, pitching brand new creative ideas.

 

If you’d like to learn more about content marketing, building a creative inbound strategy and how to promote it via social media marketing speak to a Webpresence representative today.