We tested the most popular AI tools. Here’s what you should know.

After testing popular AI tools, here’s what you should know

By Imprint Team

May 30, 2023
Graphic beakers and test tubes
Our task force evaluated 9 key areas that influence content marketing

Curiosity and humility are a powerful combo — and in our pursuit of both, we’ve evolved our position on AI’s role in content marketing dramatically since posting “The AI elephant in the room”.

Since the release of ChatGPT more than six months ago, hundreds of new AI-powered apps, plug-ins and integrations have entered the market. So we assembled a cross-discipline “task force” and assigned members of the team to different areas of focus: video, images and graphics, social, SEO, ideation, research, competitive analysis and translation. Some clients have expressed feeling overwhelmed by all the technology choices, and are looking to us for help understanding the landscape. In that spirit, the team was tasked with unturning every digital stone.

Below are high-level summaries of our findings. If you’re curious about specific platforms we evaluated and use cases please reach out so that we can make time to speak with you. (We’re endlessly fascinated with this emerging technology.)

Embracing the symbiotic relationship of “left brain / right brain”

Brain graphic showing difference in right brain vs left brain AI tasks

As we talked about where both predictive and generative AI fit into the landscape — as well as the potential for human replacement — we began to weigh the role of “left brain / right brain” (Fig. 1). As we worked through countless scenarios, one of our initial theses proved true: It seems AI in its current state can both expedite and improve some repetitive and time-consuming “left brain” work, which in turn enhances and allows more time for the “right brain” humans to do their thing.

It’s important to note: Just because some left-brain processing, analyzing and troubleshooting can be automated does not diminish its importance to our effectiveness as content marketers. On the contrary, when done right it can directly contribute to better content by providing more data, uncovering more insights within that data and speeding up the debugging and QA processes. We envision this relationship not as AI and human working in silos, but as working in tandem.

Acknowledging the spectrum of capabilities and trade-offs

Graph showing AI output from low to high quality

Once we identified which particular tasks AI is currently best suited for, we demoed as many available platforms as we could and judged the quality of the output against how much time and/or money it would save (Fig. 2).

We found that while video editing and social content creation could be done faster and cheaper, the quality of the output was just too low. In fact, almost all content creation ended up on the low-quality-output hemisphere, which speaks to the right-brain consensus.

The top-right quadrant looked promising, though. All the left-brain tasks landed there, further confirming our thesis: Transcription, research, analytics, translation, social calendars, and media buying are all prime opportunities to save time and money with AI without sacrificing quality.

The outliers: ideation and competitive analysis

But how did ideation get grouped with the “left brain” tasks? We were fascinated to find that ideation itself has both left-brain and right-brain elements. There’s the “throwing spaghetti” part — word association, info dumps, anything to get the juices flowing — which, turns out, is more of a left-brain exercise. AI can be tremendously helpful here. But it can’t sense when the spaghetti actually sticks to the wall. It can’t then take that idea and refine it, aligning it with broader campaign themes, brand guidelines and business objectives. That’s where the right brain steps in.

Then there’s competitive analysis — the only category to end up in the lower right quadrant. We found that no matter how we sliced it or how helpful the tools were for certain parts of the analyses, it didn’t show real promise in saving time or money. The primary reason was simply that the tools struggled to discern between relevant and irrelevant data, requiring us to comb through the findings ourselves.

Our pivot: AI is an evolving amalgam of technologies, and merits close attention

While much of what we stated in our February post remains true, we have remained open as a team to the opportunities that exist now and those that could emerge in the near future. We’re committed to staying curious so that our clients and our agency can reap the benefits (and we reserve the right to have yet another point of view in six months as things evolve).

How are you or your team exploring opportunities in AI?

We’d love to hear where you stand on incorporating AI into your content — or maybe you have some questions about the tools we evaluated throughout this process. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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