Marketing firms from Minnesota are testing how ChatGPT can help their work

Digital marketing firm Voro uses ChatGPT, the popular new artificial intelligence program, to “supercharge” content creation for clients.

Before ChatGPT, content was “incredibly expensive” to create — especially customized content needed for search engine visibility, said Chris Gauron, partner and CEO of the Minneapolis firm.

Voro has created an AI-assisted but human-edited process that increases speed while reducing costs. Gauron likens it to an artisan bakery that turns into a full bread factory.

The power and potential of ChatGPT fueled explosive growth, reaching 100 million users in just two months. Reports that he passed exams in four law courses at the University of Minnesota, the Wharton School of Business and the medical licensing exam only fueled worldwide interest.

As digital marketers – and those in other fields – incorporate ChatGPT into their work, Voro Gauron partners and Matt O’Laughlin are among those also urging caution.

“At this point, we don’t see this as a sentient human or a synthetic human,” Gauron said. “It’s just technology.”

The call for FDA-style regulation, made in February on a Center for Humane Technology podcast, is “very intriguing,” Gauron said.

“We support conversations that lead to technology like ChatGPT working for the people it aims to serve,” he said.

Meanwhile, human-assisted artificial intelligence can deliver more relevant online advertising to the benefit of consumers and brands, according to Andrew Eklund, founder and CEO of Ciceron, a digital marketing firm in St. Paul.

To that end, Eklund expects AI — with its power to sift through vast amounts of consumer data — to “dominate and automate” many marketing services.

“The data to do this well has become so unwieldy and so big that it’s almost as if AI is needed to do it,” Eklund said. “If a machine can do something better, faster, cheaper that wasn’t monetized very well to begin with, it’s kind of a win-win.”

Tools like ChatGPT and AI image generator MidJourney offer “inspiration at speed,” Eklund said. They also promote “an underserved market for creative output, creative ideas from brands that probably didn’t have the budget for it.”

The economics would also favorably allow ChatGPT to write, for example, short descriptions of items in a catalog that includes thousands of products, Eklund said. In another project, ChatGPT can stimulate new ideas even if he doesn’t use a word he writes.

Eklund welcomes new technology even as it disrupts and transforms his business and encourages customers to get on board.

“At some point you hit that thing called good enough,” Eklund said. “The savings are big enough that the output is good enough for the investment.”

Improvements in advanced AI will lead to a greater ability to make “decisions that are more accurate, more relevant, more human, more empathetic, more relevant,” Eklund said. “And it will take away from people’s daily lives what is really unproductive. It can be a huge productivity boom.”

Joe Redden, chair of marketing analytics at the U’s Carlson School of Management, admits he’s been addicted to ChatGPT for weeks.

“There have been three big inventions in my lifetime — the Internet, the smartphone and now this,” Redden said. “I’ve thrown everything I can think of into it and I’m absolutely blown away by everything it can do. We are only scratching the surface.”

AI tools are good for quickly, cheaply generating images or positioning statements for marketers to test, Redden said.

But Redden wouldn’t trust AI models to create written content or images that the company needs to own, or “a final version of everything.”

“It’s like having another smart person in the room throwing out some ideas,” he said.

Redden will now have students use ChatGPT to analyze and interpret marketing data, an area where some struggle. Students—and marketers—could instead focus on generating business questions for ChatGPT to explore and decide how to use its results in marketing efforts.

“Synthesizing information and topics is great,” Redden said. “If he has to make judgments, he’s not that good at it. … The human how-to-integrate-this-into-a-strategy will still have that layer that we probably need.”

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. His email is [email protected]

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