In this podcast, John McDougall from McDougall Interactive and Talk Marketing Academy talks with John Cass from AI Content Gen. They talk about the current capabilities of AI content generation tools. Then, they speculate on the future of AI.
John McDougall: This is John McDougall with McDougall Interactive and Talk Marketing Academy, and I’m here today with John Cass of AI Content Gen. Welcome, John.
John Cass: Oh, thanks, John. It’s great to be with you.
What Does AI Content Gen Do?
John McDougall: Yeah, good. So, tell me what’s up with AI Content Gen and what you’re doing with AI.
John Cass: Yeah. I started to get a look at AI content generation about two years ago. I was working with a lot of companies on the West Coast, tech companies, food distribution, and all of them are using AI. As I’m a content strategist, I was curious to know how AI can be used in the context of AI content generation, and so I started looking at the tools, and it was an amazing experience to see how it’s developed over time. I ended up doing that research and then founding a company, AI Content Gen.
What we are is an analyst firm and a coaching firm that helps people through reports and also coaching on how to use AI content generation, and through open AI and the development of a technology, called GPT3, over the last two or three years, AI content generation has really expanded, and it’s not just the development of the technology for the generation of content, but also the research tools that you can use to do content research and then also briefing.
Reports to Help You Learn About AI Content Generation Tools
John McDougall: And how do the reports help people, marketers, better understand what’s happening?
John Cass: Well, our reports look at… We went out, and we looked at 50 different tools that were out there, and in our report, we have 20 different tools, and we look at how AI content generation tools actually work. We talk about how they do research, and when they’re doing research, if you’re doing SEO research or you’re doing topic research, those tools can actually help you discover what content you actually need to write within about 5 or 10 minutes, essentially, and some of the tools will also help you to put together a brief, again, within a couple of minutes.
You’ll still have to do some editing, and then you actually have the capability to generate content, based upon the initial research that you’ve done and then the briefing that you have done. What we do in those reports is, we illustrate how you can use the tools, and we also illustrate which tools are out there and what they’re best for. It’s really a report that helps guide you in how to use the tools and then which tools to pick, depending upon what you want to use the AI content generation tools for.
What Type of Content Does AI Generation Create?
John McDougall: And what are some of the most common types of content that the tools are good with?
John Cass: A big focus is on blogging and also article generation. Most of the big tools, they definitely do that, but I think beyond that, a lot of them also have social media posts. That will either be the case of, perhaps you use the AI content generation tool to make a blog post, and then you put it through the social media post, and it generates some social post based upon the blog content, or you’ve got an existing post, and then you can use that AI social media post generator to create content. But, there are specialty tools out there that just focus on social media generation, but it’s not just that.
I mean, there are tools that work on landing page optimization. Interestingly, we were working with a PR client, an agency, for example, there aren’t very many good tools for press releases yet, and if you wanted to develop something, you’d really have to customize it within similar tools, but they have that capability.
Using AI Tools to Help With Writing
John McDougall: Boy, there’s a lot to unpack there, which is great. From an SEO side, we don’t write articles fully with AI tools because we’re nervous that it’s sort of like an article spinner, but the main one that I’ve used is Jasper, and it actually blows me away from a readability perspective. I did write a few blog posts one day for a client that just needed something fast, and they didn’t care, and I went to their competitor’s side and found, on their blog, some ideas, threw in my swipe file type of version, an altered version, my own creative version of their headline that was on a certain topic. I threw that into the blog post template in Jasper, and what it came back with blew my mind.
It was an introductory paragraph, the three things to think about for this situation and a closing paragraph. Now, it was only 350 words or so, so then I went in and very quickly, maybe 15 or 20 minutes, which isn’t push a button, use Jasper, put it on a website, but I mean, it let me write a blog post comfortably, say, 15 minutes.
Now, I did use this robotic content, or spun content, but I really added value to it and made it two or three times as long, so yeah. Maybe it was only a 750 word post. It wasn’t this 1,500 word awesome, super in-depth article, but within 15 minutes, to have a pretty damn good article, and I didn’t really have to think about the structure. The AI, the robot, was like, “Here, on a silver platter, is your structure.” So, yeah. I mean, if I thought the robot really could think 100% originally, I would be more tempted to use it.
My concern, for SEO, anyway, is, how does it do that? Does it go and basically scrape intelligently, like, “These are not only good paragraphs about this topic, but they’re top ranked?” Or, in the case of social media, you wouldn’t get a duplicate content algorithmic penalty from Google if it’s scraped content, so you wouldn’t worry about it as much, but it’s like I’m imagining, and you can fill me in if the reason those companies had to have specialized is, what I imagine, anyway, I’m guessing that they’re doing is, AI can go and tell you that if you post with this flavor, tone, or vibe, it’s going to take off more viral or get more engagement. Is that right? Maybe unpack a little bit, both, the SEO. How do you deal with duplicate content? And yeah, does social media… is that sort of the point, the AI is smarter than a human at judging what could be successful?
How AI Content Generation Can Enhance Human Efforts
John Cass: Well, I think you always have to have a human involved in this process at this moment in time, for any of the tools. I think you should have a marketer or… Yeah, that is. You still need a writer. You still need a marketer, but I think the takeaway really is that these tools enhance the marketer. They enhance the writer, right? On the research angle, even a tool that just does AI content generation, maybe like Jasper or something, they’re not specifically doing research, where even if you write in a topic and you have some lines in the brief and you’re producing some content for it, you may come up with some new ideas that you didn’t know, so that saves you time in terms of research, but you’ve got other tools out there where it’s specifically doing research for you. It’s saying, “Okay, so these are the topics that you should include in an article if you’re writing about this particular topic.” I know.
By the way, here’s a nice heat map showing you of the top 20 sites on Google. Which topics are they covering? From an SEO perspective, even the minimalist AI content generation tool that doesn’t have good specifically designed research tools is going to help you with research, but then many of these tools have excellent research tools that can help you to understand as a writer, or as a marketer, or as a content strategist, what you actually need to write in there.
Plus, you could go back, and then you could optimize an existing post. Maybe you have written a post. I had a client in the last year or so that was in the health industry, and we did a content audit, and part of their issue is that, well, one, they had content not in every aspect of the customer journey, maybe not enough in the awareness stage, but a lot in the purchase and consideration, but a lot of that content, it was evergreen, and therefore it was a little jaded, and it just needed to be spruced up. You can use some of these tools to go in and check that your existing content is actually being competitive and it’s being maintained. Right? Right?
Using AI to Audit and Improve Content
John McDougall: That’s far different than, “Oh, I’m not going to use Jasper or whatever AI tool because I don’t want to just push a button and pump out some blog posts.” What you’re talking about is a lifecycle of your processes for marketing and SEO as one piece of that would dictate that you’re going to be so much better off, like Market Muse or whatever that is saying, “Yeah, all those other threads of topics that, if you don’t include them in this content, you’re less likely to succeed,” but you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t use this AI tool because…
Well, you would if you painstakingly went and searched for every keyword that you have and looked at the top 5 or 10 posts in Google and did a gap analysis of paragraph by paragraph, but this AI is just like, “Okay, here you go.” Don’t think of AI as a little cheater’s way to throw out spammy content, right? That’s such a narrow-minded… It can be used like that, and some people are, but that would be missing the broader, the way high-end people are using this technology.
Human Involvement With AI Content Generation
John Cass: Yeah, and I think you bring up that issue, and I think a lot of folks have concerns about it, and the folks at Google have been talking about it, and they’re saying, “Don’t use AI content generation tools to produce your content,” but what they’re really saying is, “Don’t produce bad content,” and so that’s why you always have to have a writer or a marketer involved in the process, who is building, who is doing the research, using the tools, building the brief, using the tools, and then perhaps using the AI content generation tool to generate content within sections and then go back and edit it and adjust it.
It’s not leaving the tool to do everything. It’s using it in combination. I think what it’s doing, it’s making those writers who are already good a lot better. You just explained an entire process about how to do that gap analysis, right, and it takes hours. It takes absolute hours to do it, and instead…
How AI Helps With Gap Analysis
John McDougall: And so few people really do that. I mean, I’ve never really seen a client come to me, for example, and they said, “Well, why aren’t you doing topic gap analysis? All our last SEO companies did that.” Never.
John Cass: Right, but you could do that now with these tools within 10 minutes, and that’s the beauty of it. As a content strategist, I always, always worried, am I covering everything? Am I doing a good enough job of doing the research? And also saying, “I’m spending too much time on doing the research.” Now, I don’t have that worry anymore because I can…
John McDougall: Right.
Next Stage in AI Content Generation
John Cass: And it’s not perfect, yeah, because I think there are some other points. I talked about doing a content audit right. That, to me, is going to be the next stage, which is when we get a company that can come in and do complete… a tool vendor that can come in and do a complete content audit and basically tell you, “Where are they in the customer journey? What’s the quality of the content?” And then give you an entire report, telling what you need to do. I mean…
John McDougall: Right. Is your tone and quality as good as theirs? We actually, when you were working with us years ago, I think during that stage, we hired that company as a separate…
John Cass: Yes.
John McDougall: Like this HubSpot partner, all they did was blueprints.
John Cass: Right.
John McDougall: It was actually really cool. To this day, I still think, “Oh, well, we don’t do every step of what they did,” which is really good. They had a very robust intake of where… so agencies didn’t have to slow down and do that. Like every client, you just feed it over to the blueprint guys and you get this amazing report, like all that stuff you just said, but yeah, if that’s all they did, I would hate to be them, if now, AI sort of… probably if you’re going to have to hire them for 30 clients or something, you probably need to pay for this AI tool because now you can have someone in-house very quickly do that, but anyway, I think you’ve explained that AI content tools don’t have a narrow view of them.
There’s many parts of the content cycle, many types of content from SEO to social media, and any last things. I think you were saying something about a guy who won some art show or something with AI content.
Image AI Generation
John Cass: Yeah. There’s an example of a gentleman, who had won an art show in Colorado, and in his submission to the art competition, he had mentioned that he had actually used an AI image generator to develop the images, although he had described how it took him hours and hours to get the perfect image, and then he was heavily criticized by the art community basically saying, “Well, you put this in, and it was unfair competition, and you didn’t work at it,” and all those things, and it’s not original because it’s using AI content generation.
Interestingly, the judges said, “Oh, well, we actually didn’t know he used AI because we didn’t recognize that in the submission, but we were fine with the fact that he used it.” I think the controversy that’s happened over that has actually encouraged the text AI content generation companies to start adding image AI generation because they see that as part of it.
John McDougall: Right.
John Cass: I think it’s-
John McDougall: And even video, right?
John Cass: Oh, yeah, yeah, all of that, all of that, yeah. Yeah. I think that’s going to take off.
John McDougall: It’s going in that direction, beyond text, right?
AI Content Specialities
John Cass: Yeah, no. I mean, I think that’s one lesson that I’ve learned, which is, it’s not just about blogs, but it’s the type of content. Unbound, for example, they’re a landing page optimization company that’s sort of new number two in the industry, they went out and bought Smart Copy, which was an AI content generation tool, and they’re integrating it. I think what you’ll see, John, is that you’ll either have…
Well, you’ll see existing technology vendors that already have market presence in an industry, and they’ll say, “Oh, we can have a competitive advantage here if we develop AI or we just buy another tool vendor,” or you’ll see some tool vendors start to make content and move into those technologies phases and start to eat into them. Some of this is mergers and acquisitions. I think it really is, and tech people, the investors have to really seriously think about it.
Using AI to Improve Landing Pages
John McDougall: Wow. What that made me think of quickly was, I took that master certification with Brian Eisenberg back in the day with Market Motive, and AB testing, conversion optimization is highly specialized, and people like conversion rate experts out of England, they’re amazing. The average writer that writes blog posts knows very little, typically. If I say to one of my bloggers that does a great job with blog content, “Make me a landing page,” and I’m thinking, “Of course they know how to do that,” and they come back with this very generic services page.
I’m thinking, “Where are the guarantees, the right calls to action, the point of action assurance before they hit the submit button, the optimization of the submit button so it just doesn’t say submit, it has a value proposition? Where are the rewards, affiliations, trust badges, social proof, testimonials?” I mean, there’s just a whole flood of things that make a good landing page, and that’s just scratching the service, but AI, it sounds genius to just incorporate that into Unbound, so you could probably have your blogger now go in and do a better job, so maybe you don’t have to go find some specialized CRO writer, and yeah, maybe that just… or even if you do have a special CRO writer, finesse to the point where, this is what is going to convert, the R2D2 things that…
John Cass: Right.
John McDougall: And you can test it and then figure out, is this AI optimized landing page converting at 10%, instead of 2%?
John Cass: Absolutely. I mean, I think that’s… We have to think about it, which is 20 years ago when I was blogging, there were only a couple platforms around, but now there’s a lot more, and I think part of the reason is, is because there were so many different types of content, and we have to realize that while you might be good at producing AI content generation for blogs or articles, it’s a whole different kettle of fish when it comes to landing pages. Even those tools that are big in the industry might have a solution for it, but I think the folks at Unbound are going to have a better effort at, partly because they’ve been doing this for years.
How Many Companies Do AI Content Generation?
John McDougall: Yeah, and they’re going to know if the tool is doing a good job with CRO. They’re going to tweak it for that or the people. You mentioned social media, so a specialized company. With that said, how many… There must be, then, it’s not just five big companies. There’s specialized companies now, or again, Unbound has AI. How many companies are doing this over the, in general, or-
John Cass: Well, when we did our research in our first infographic, we came up with 53 or so, but since then, we found a lot more, so there’s over 100, I think, and probably more. We’re probably missing some from different countries, because we definitely see activity in Asia-Pacific and also Europe, so easily that. I remember an instance where, I was doing research and then found a different keyword for the production of resumes. Right? Sorry, not resumes, job posts, right?
This is a really interesting story, which is that part of the concern for the industry is, oh, if I’m going to be producing content and it’s AI generated, it’s not going to be appropriate content, whereas the selling feature on those folks who produce job descriptions is the fact that, well, your existing HR person might not be meeting all the rules and regulations, right? So therefore, AI content generators for job descriptions will come in and make sure that you’re meeting the requirements and the rules.
John McDougall: Regulatory compliance by a robot. That’s wild. So, are there hundreds of AI companies now doing content generation or marketing tools, or is it a certain…
John Cass: Well, I can definitely say there’s over a hundred, right, but I don’t know whether it’s hundreds.
John McDougall: Yeah.
Reasons Behind the Rapid Expansion of AI Generation
John Cass: The industry has definitely grown. I mean, if you look at our infographic and see the growth over recent years, it’s been very rapid, and part of that is because of the language model company open AI and GPT3. They made it so easy. They provided a good platform, as is often the case in technology, and then so those vendors came along and are using that language model, but that also means that some of the other companies that are out there, that are language model providers, are starting to work, as well.
We have another infographic that’s a pricing infographic, and it’s one of the reasons why I jumped into this space, which is that the pricing is actually not that bad. It ranges from sometimes $10 a month, sometimes, actually, free for a sort of limited version, but $10 a month to maybe $100 for a lot of these tools. Now, it could be more than that because you’ve got more sophisticated tools where you’ve got companies that actually do custom work. There’s a company here in the Boston area that does that. There’s one in Italy that we’ve spoken with, for example, that does a customization with-
John McDougall: Well, like medical or some kind of ultra-specialized industry, pharmaceutical, like that?
John Cass: Yeah.
Pricing for Ultra-Specialized AI Content Tools
John McDougall: And then, what? Are they thousands a month or some super high-
John Cass: Yeah, they’re a lot. That’s a custom price, so-
John McDougall: It might be $250,000, and we’ll come in, and we’ll make an AI thing for doctors or something with heart-
John Cass: Well, I don’t know that it would be that much, but certainly, it would certainly be a… Well, part of it is that they will have the account managers and writers come in, and they’ll sit down with you. They’ll figure out what your brief is, and then they’ll write all this stuff for you, which is kind of interesting to me because I used to work at Idea Launch, which is now Writer Access, which is bought by Rock Content, a Brazilian content, and they’re a writer marketplace, and I’m sure that a lot of those writers might be using AI content generation, but I wonder how AI content generation is going to impact places like Upwork and those other writer and contractor marketplaces. I think you’re going to see more. The companies are going to basically realize, “Oh, we’re going to have to promote the fact that we have writers that can use AI content generation.” Some of the AI content generation companies are actually developing their own writer marketplaces.
John McDougall: So, it’s kind of all merging. It’s a funny story, just that John Maher and I actually trained Byron White with Writers Access. Way back, we trained the first copywriters, his early stage of his company. We trained them on keyword research.
John Cass: Great, great.
John McDougall: That was super early, but yeah, he blew up, in a good way, his company. It’s awesome, but yeah. But now, he doesn’t need us to train his people. It’s like they have these crazy tools for it, which is cool.
John Cass: Exactly, yeah. Exactly.
Infographics to Learn About AI Content Generation
John McDougall: Yeah, and so you have these two infographics, and where can people find those?
John Cass: Oh, that would be aicontentgen.com, and we have an infographic section.
Future of Artificial Intelligence
John McDougall: Yeah. What do you think the future of AI is? I mean, and maybe tie it in a little broadly. Number one for marketing, but you hear about AI for your refrigerator or something. I mean, how is it going to expand with marketing, and I mean, is this like you got to go buy AI stocks in all kinds of places? How exciting is this thing?
John Cass: As I mentioned, two years ago, I was working with a lot of those big companies on the West Coast, and I was also reading some of the reports from places, like McKinsey, and the pandemic accelerated the adoption of technology. They said by five to seven years, right? I think AI was a big part of that across, well, AI content generation, but also processes.
I think AI is already having an impact in how companies are solving problems, solving problems faster, and I think it’s only going to increase. I think you’re going to see more adoption of AI for email marketing, for anything, you name it, ad optimization, ad personalization, those sorts of things, determining whether the metrics are actually having a result, because it’s one thing to do the research, to do the briefing, to do the AI content generation, to do the optimization, but is it actually still working and are you getting the results? I think that’s probably where the big future lies, as it lies with AI in general, but also with AI content generation.
Favorite AI Content Generation Tools
John McDougall: And lastly, do you have any favorite tools, like things that you just think are cool or that you use daily now, or…
John Cass: I do, and I also have a great report, which you can read. I mean, the thing is, it really depends upon what type of content you want and then also some other factors. It might be that you’re a certain company, and maybe you’re not very sophisticated, so I probably would recommend this tool.
John McDougall: It’s more nuanced, then it’s like, “Oh, go use Jasper.”
John Cass: Yeah, exactly. That’s right. That’s right.
John McDougall: Yep. Cool. So again, that was aicontentgen.com. Is that right?
John Cass: Aicontentgen.com. That’s right.
John McDougall: All right, cool. Well, this was John McDougall with Talk Marketing Academy and McDougall Interactive with John Cass of AI Content Gen, and thanks, John.
John Cass: Thank you, John. Thank you.
John McDougall: All right, good. Talk to you soon.