Peering into the future of content marketing, we encounter an enticing landscape, both for the audience, as well as the narrators. For marketers, though, a storm is brewing. Here’s the lowdown. The chatter around generative AI has been steadily growing, with the emergence of revolutionary tools like Stable Diffusion and DALL-E in early 2022, and ChatGPT following soon thereafter. These AI advancements have redefined computer programming, translating straightforward language prompts into sophisticated instructions, and thereby extending substantial technological benefits to users that never had access to them before.
It was only a matter of time before complex software across the board began incorporating natural language prompt systems. Early players, such as Hubspot’s ChatSpot, displayed how customer-friendly this approach can be, simplifying complex software interactions. The recent announcement from Microsoft about incorporating natural language prompts into the Windows operating system underscores this trend, tasks as routine as organizing PowerPoint files will become hassle-free.
Here’s a simple litmus test: any software that features an API or an internal programming language is a prime candidate for integrating generative AI, given that it already possesses the existing foundation for code-driven interactions. Windows and Microsoft Office utilize VBScript, Adobe and Blender 3D offer their own scripting tools, and Hubspot boasts its own API, among many, many others.
Now, creative tools are also embracing the convenience that generative AI offers. Recently, Adobe launched a beta version of Photoshop that supports generative fills. Users can modify an image by simply typing in a command. While DALL-E and Stable Diffusion already featured this capability, it wasn’t mainstream or particularly user-friendly. Photoshop’s update rectifies this.
But the real game-changer was the unveiling of Unity AI. Unity, for those not in the know, is an incredibly versatile and complex programming environment predominantly used by game studios to develop video games. It’s behind some of the most successful and renowned video games out there. Unity’s recent release, version 5.2, has left many in awe with its AI-powered generation of landscapes and other development shortcuts. Check out Unity 5.2 on YouTube to witness its finesse.
The revelation was the introduction of Unity AI, a prompt-based system for generating video game content. This means developers can streamline the creation of scenes, characters, and sequences using generative AI and prompt-based programming, hastening the process to a first draft and leaving more time for refinement.
Though systems like ChatGPT may not produce flawless first drafts, they’re a substantial leap forward. The first drafts for top-tier titles, which traditionally could take months or even years to produce, will soon be a much speedier affair. But what does all this have to do with content marketing, you ask?
Unity’s capabilities extend beyond video games. Its powerful engine also allows for video creation, complete with script. The platform has been used to create impressive, realistic virtual environments and characters for in-game cut scenes. In essence, Unity offers the ability to shoot cinema-grade video without ever leaving your office. Coupled with the speed of generative AI and prompt-based interactions, this takes budget filmmaking to unprecedented heights. Tools like this could lead to shooting scenes or B-roll in exotic locations right from your office, or even forgoing human talent entirely.
Consider the implications for content creators. Prompt-based video production of high quality will become feasible, just as it has for music, image, and text production with tools like ChatGPT. Independent content creators have flooded platforms like Archive Of Our Own with millions of stories that often outperform marketing content in terms of traffic and audience engagement. Now, imagine the ease of transforming these fictions into videos, series, or even films.
Imagine revisiting your favorite TV series that ended too soon or was abruptly canceled. Fans can use generative AI tools to create new content in these universes as easily as they write fan fiction today.
The problem for marketers becomes clear. Although these tools will benefit marketing, the untapped originality, outstanding writing, and innovative ideas found online could be transformed into highly engaging content using generative tools. In comparison, marketing content may become less appealing and sink further down on consumers’ watch-lists. With a deluge of superior content about to flood the market, marketers face an uphill battle.
So, what’s the game plan for marketers? The answer is both simple and profoundly challenging: produce content worth consuming. The battle isn’t just against big names like Netflix and Disney+ anymore, but everyone equipped with next-generation content tools.
If content creation on such low budgets is a bridge too far, marketers can still make an impact in these novel content landscapes. In platforms like Unreal, content pieces such as virtual objects (tables, chairs, soda cans, etc.) are essential. Brands that produce physical items should be engineering and distributing virtual counterparts of their products. For instance, a soda company like Coca-Cola could distribute virtual soda cans and vending machines for developers to use, creating free product placements.
But what if this isn’t viable? Even though independent studios and creators will benefit greatly from generative AI, content creation will still require time and money, albeit less. Brands could step in as sponsors for productions that align with their values and marketing strategy. A film that once cost $10 million to produce might now cost only $10,000. Sponsoring such a film becomes far more feasible and could pay dividends if the film becomes a hit.
Your marketing might need to borrow from strategies of the past, when companies frequently sponsored content to gain exposure in new media like radio and television. It’s crucial to seize content opportunities and build ties with creator communities early, as this new wave of content is nearly upon us.
To reiterate a familiar message, AI won’t steal your job. But a person skilled in AI will out compete those who aren’t, due to their efficiency and superior output. To remain desirable in the job market, you need to start using these tools now, capitalizing on the disruption they cause. This is your chance to leapfrog slower competitors. As we witnessed during the rise of social media in the early 2000s, this window of opportunity won’t last, and the front runners will be hard to beat.
Act now to develop your skills. No course, book, or lecture can prepare you for this yet. It’s about understanding what tools are emerging in your industry, mastering them early, and building a network that keeps you in the loop.