Updated: Aug 26, 2019
A few months ago, I had the chance to sit down with Prashant Kumar, founder & senior partner at Entropia, an agency that defies any industry label currently available. Prashant is currently one of THE rock stars of the industry because Entropia is a disrupting force, bringing a whole new paradigm into the industry. I was interviewing him for a client’s project, so it was a great opportunity to pick his mind about how communications industry was changing.
Recently, I had read the story about how an AI-written ad had outperformed a human writer’s ad. To me, that was an earth-shaking development. It's exciting where technology is taking us. I had also mused about what it meant for human copywriters on my blog. That’s when something Prashant had said started to tickle my mind.
High-end, Low-end, or The End?
As my interview with Prashant progressed over lunch, he predicted that the way audiences consume content will shift to the extremes. As a result, there will be cheap, low-end throwaway content and there will be the premium-quality content that is worth people spending extra time and money for. People will go for the low-end content because it doesn’t cost them much time and effort to check out a few lines, and people will always take time and effort to appreciate good quality content. But the middle ground will be decimated because no one will have the patience to tolerate mediocrity anymore.
According to Prashant, the key to survival is either to be a very low-end content producer, churning out mad volume to make a living, or be a high-quality content producer and charge a premium. I fully agree with him. (In my own opinion, the middle ground will probably be where the robots copywriters thrive, churning out volumes of OK copy for ads and other content.)
In my own experience, I have found Prashant’s prediction to be very true.
Bucking The Trend. But How?
For example, the conventional wisdom today is that long-form digital content does not work. The advice is normally to keep it at about 500 to 800 words. But my three highest-performing digital content were between 2,500 and 5000 words. Many of my other digital content that were very well-received were over 1,000 words long too.
As I puzzled over this, I realised that the answer is not in the copy or the media. Of course, it lies in the readers themselves! Just as Prashant said, people will not have patience for mediocre content anymore. (And let’s be honest, a lot of the stuff on the internet ain’t that great – and that’s being nice!) So audiences will flick through content, giving it 30 to 60 seconds of their time before deciding whether to continue or drop it. This will repeat until they find something that really grabs their attention. Then they will take as much time as they need to finish viewing the content.
So yeah, we can’t stop the rise of the machines. The AI copywriter will definitely shrink the market for human writers, but machines do have their kryptonite: they can only do what they are programmed to do. They cannot create high-quality, original content. That’s up to us humans. Ultimately, how writers respond to the challenge – whether we go high, medium or low-end – is an entirely individual and human decision.