At this point, it might be an understatement to say you can’t read any media-related journalism these days without hearing about AI—artificial intelligence—particularly generative AI, which creates standard-English content based on a given input or request.
Thanks to products like ChatGPT, many observers in and out of the media industries believe not only that AI is a game changer, but it’s a game changer happening right now. This is not a potential business revolution that’s still two or three years down the road. (Still, other than BuzzFeed admitting it uses AI to write stories, AI doesn’t seem to be in wide use in the media.)
In the media context (see the BuzzFeed example), AI almost always relates to the content side—writing various kinds of stories, or using AI as a reference source for reporters.
But it’s really not just the content side of the business that’s being disrupted. I read recently that AI is a great fit for customer service, for marketing, and even for advertising. For example, the article said, AI could write proposals based on the media buyer’s objectives and criteria. It could map campaign efficiency to recommend longevity of the campaign, frequency of insertions, and preferred media channels. It could even manage campaigns after they are sold, eliminating the need for humans to create intricate schedules, and it would have the ability to tweak a program based on target benchmarks.
All of these things seem to fit for the media-buying side, especially agencies that seek semi-generic RFPs. In these instances, perhaps the media seller can benefit as well—sometimes media brands get exceedingly tight deadlines within which to produce their proposals. Forty-eight hours. Maybe a week. It’s a high-stress task with relatively low odds for success. AI could do the heavy lifting.
One question for me is this: Maybe AI can write proposals and manage campaigns, but should it? Media sales, even today, still rely on trusted brands and human relationships. That may or may not be less important than 30 years ago, but it’s a vital part of sales—and sales usually grow out of prospecting, where AI can help, but not replace humans.
And then there’s this: What good media salesperson would relinquish their role in crafting a proposal? Proposals succeed from clear and compelling writing. They succeed from intuition—they depend not on the spoken word or written request alone, they depend equally on the emotional context, the body language, the facial expressions—all things that AI can’t do, at least not yet.
AI is a great emerging tool, and makes for a fascinating conversation, but it can’t help save a piece of business from an unhappy customer. A human salesperson can.