With so much of the digital marketing world adopting artificial intelligence (AI), you may be asking yourself, “am I the only digital marketer with concerns about AI?”
The answer is a resounding no!
As with any new technology, there are always those with hesitations. Even in those who eagerly adopted AI, there may still be concerns about its disadvantages and risks. This is especially true for digital marketers.
In this post, we’ll outline the current state of AI in the world of digital marketing. We’ll then share seven disadvantages of AI in digital marketing, as determined by our survey respondents. Finally, we’ll share tips for mitigating such disadvantages and risks so you can adopt AI for the overall benefit of your marketing strategy.
How AI is Being Used In The Marketing Landscape
There is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to how companies are using AI. This is often due to lack of understanding of what AI is and what it actually can do.
As it currently stands, AI touches many aspects of digital marketing. For example, it’s used by email marketing platforms to collect customer data and personalize content. It’s also used by advertising platforms to optimize digital ad placements.
There are some digital marketers who use AI to collect and curate content. Even just popping a prompt into ChatGPT or any number of other AI copywriting tools counts as content curation.
There are more blatant examples of AI in digital marketing, too. Chatbots are a common occurrence across the web. They use AI technology to not only respond to customer questions, but learn how to better interact with customers in the future.
The use of AI in digital marketing is wide and varied. As more AI tools become available, this is only likely to increase over time.
What Our Data Shows Us About AI Risk And Disadvantages
As a digital marketer, you probably have some concerns over the risks and disadvantages of AI in your digital marketing campaigns. You’re not alone.
We surveyed 1,000 digital marketers in the industry. This included those who actively work in digital marketing whether they are freelancers (229 people), have an in-house digital role (394), or an agency role (377). This survey was limited to only those in the US.
We asked the respondents what they believed were the greatest risks of AI in digital marketing. Here’s what we found.
1. Legal/Ethical Concerns
We’ve seen it before with emerging technologies, like social media and digital advertising. It can take years for laws to catch up with them.
Why would the use of AI technology in digital marketing be any different?
Just imagine: widespread use of AI technology in digital marketing only for laws to be enacted at a later point in time. While those laws may not be retroactive, entire digital marketing firms would be disrupted at the change in status quo.
That’s not an imagined concern, either.
Of the 1,000 digital marketers we surveyed, 14.8% of them consider legal and/or ethical concerns to be the biggest risk. This is similarly a concern of freelancers (12.66%), in-house marketers (14.21%) and digital marketing agency workers (16.71%).
2. Lack of Search Engine Optimization
There were a lot of answers for “what do you think is the biggest risk/issue of using AI technology in digital marketing?” However, the winner with 149 respondents (14.9%) is the concern that content would not be optimized for SEO.
Search engine optimization is a concern for marketers of all types. Whether freelance, in-house, or with an agency, SEO requires a considerable amount of time and effort to implement. That’s why this concern was widespread among our respondents.
Of our respondents, 12.66% of freelancers, 16.75% of in-house marketers, and 14.32% of digital marketing agencies felt similarly that SEO was the biggest risk.
3. Incorrect Information
As marketers, it’s important that the information we provide is accurate. That’s true whether providing information to our clients, our audience, or just the general public (via Google’s Featured Snippet, for example).
While you may think that AI technology is accurate, just consider ChatGPT as an example – it can only provide information up to 2021 at the time this data was collected.
With that in mind, 11.8% of survey respondents say AI providing incorrect information is the biggest risk. Interestingly, this concern varies widely among freelancers (14.41%), in-house marketers (8.38%), and digital marketing agency marketers (13.79%).
4. Unnatural or Robotic Content
While AI “speech patterns” have improved over the years, there is still something unnatural and almost robotic about them. This often means stilted content, even if you’re not quite sure what is “off” about it.
This concern is shared among the digital marketing community, with 12.8% of survey respondents reporting this as their biggest concern.
The concern seems to be shared quite evenly among freelancers (11.35%), in-house marketers (13.96%), and digital marketing agencies (12.47%).
When a new technology becomes available, and especially one that provides considerable time and cost savings, adoption and implementation are often soon to follow. What happens, though, when people begin to depend too heavily on that technology?
In terms of digital marketing, over-dependence on AI technology can lead to less collaboration and less creativity among marketers. Over time, the marketer or agency may give over large parts of their job to this technology which can reduce competency in the future.
Just think of what the future of marketing would look like if AI technology was the sole source of those campaigns! Without a human touch, it could become boring very quickly.
This is a concern for 14.5% of our respondents who believe over-dependence on AI technology to be the biggest risk of AI adoption.
This is felt most strongly by freelance marketers (21.8%), followed by in-house marketers (12.69%) and then digital marketing agencies (11.94%).
It’s interesting to consider the source of the fear here. Freelancers may fear this most of all when companies become over-dependent on AI technology. In-house marketers and agencies may instead see the concern from a professional perspective. That is, over-dependence by marketers versus companies who employ them.
6. Content Sounding Too Similar
When you’re just getting acquainted with AI technology, such as ChatGPT, the responses that it spits out can seem astounding. They’re varied and engrossing and perhaps even human-like.
If you repeat those prompts hundreds or thousands of times, though, the content soon becomes dry and even tired. It’s the same content reiterated in a similar way.
That’s the concern of 12.1% of digital marketers who believe content sounding too similar is the biggest risk of adopting AI technology.
If we break that down, the concern is pretty evenly split across our different types of marketers. Freelancers (11.79%), in-house marketers (12.94%), and agencies (11.41%) similarly feel it’s a risk.
7. Lack of Personalization
49% of consumers say that a personalized shopping experience is likely to make them a repeat buyer. For that reason, you simply can’t afford not to adopt personalization techniques in your digital marketing campaigns.
While lack of personalization is a concern for many marketers, it’s not their biggest concern when it comes to AI technology. Only 9.1% of marketers feel lack of personalization is the biggest risk when it comes to adopting AI. That’s no surprise considering that many platforms – including those pertaining to email marketing, social media, and paid advertising – already use AI quite successfully as a way to personalize.
Interestingly, only 5.68% of freelancers feel that lack of personalization is the biggest risk of using AI. That is in contrast to in-house marketers (10.66%) and agencies (9.55%).
Why isn’t this such a concern for freelance marketers?
Perhaps it has to do with their client lists which are often considerably smaller than those of in-house companies and marketing agencies. Whereas freelancers may only have to consider personalization of content for five, 10, or 15 clients, the number could easily be in the hundreds for firms and agencies.
That would mean it’s easier for freelancers to check that any AI-generated content is properly personalized before publishing.
What We Can Learn From Our Data
There is no doubt that AI has its benefits. Due to many uncertainties, though, digital marketers do see downsides and risks.
The biggest concerns with using AI, according to those polled, were around content quality. More specifically, warnings from Google about AI-generated content. With that said, knowing that Google has now announced Bard, its stance on AI-generated content may evolve with time which could affect these attitudes.
Further than concerns over Google penalties, there is also concern about AI content diluting the quality of human-generated content. In particular, AI making content that is overly similar to other content published elsewhere on the web.
The good news here, no matter your concerns, is that AI technology is never meant to replace content marketers and writers. It never could replicate the human element. Instead, AI technology in marketing is meant to supplement and help where possible.
How To Manage AI’s Disadvantages
So if AI technology is meant to help, how can we manage AI’s disadvantages?
It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Whatever your concerns, though, there are ways to mitigate them.
First, identify what you believe the biggest risks of AI are. I’d recommend you stick to the top two or three risks when you’re just getting started.
Let’s say you have identified unnatural content as your greatest concern.
Next, think of the ways in which you or your colleagues may use AI for digital marketing. For example, maybe you hope to use AI for blog topic ideas or email newsletter content generation.
Finally, create a plan to mitigate any potential issues you think may occur.
With the concerns and use cases mentioned above, let’s say your greatest concern is that the email newsletter content you create sounds stilted and unnatural. You can add a step into your email newsletter campaign flow to review and optimize content.
While this won’t remove email content from your plate entirely, it still significantly reduces the time and effort you have to put into your content. That’s still a win and, ultimately, the way that AI is designed to help.
Do you have more questions about the disadvantages of AI in marketing? We have answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
There is only a problem with AI in marketing if you believe it is the fix for all of your problems. As with many things, AI can be helpful or harmful to your overall marketing strategy and goals. The only way to mitigate this problem is to understand the limitations of AI as outlined above.
According to the respondents of our survey, the three biggest dangers of AI for digital marketing are lack of search engine optimization, legal/ethical concerns, and over-dependence. These dangers and others can be mitigated if adopting AI is truly important to you or your colleagues.
It’s no secret that NPDigital is an adopter of AI technology. In fact, we’ve even developed our own AI Writer at Ubersuggest. That doesn’t mean, however, that we believe AI adoption to be all sunshine and rainbows.
While there are risks and disadvantages to using AI for digital marketing, there are ways to overcome them. We believe, as do many other digital marketing agencies, that the benefits of AI far outweigh the risks.
The key is to shift your focus from what tasks AI can fully remove from your plate to how AI can enhance your workflow.
When you consider AI to be a helping hand, as opposed to a problem solver, you will begin to see its many use cases and benefits.
How have you or your company overcome disadvantages of AI in marketing?
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