A Marketing Turning Point

Technological turning points have defined the way business is conducted. But too often, we see new technology or new strategy in the marketing space and we rush to the lowest bar of usage. We see what it makes easier, not what it makes possible. Meghan Keaney Anderson (VP of Marketing at Jasper) shares the importance of truly understanding and adopting new technology that presents a turning point for marketers. We are at a tipping point with generative AI, and Meghan breaks down misconceptions and benefits around adopting generative AI as part of your marketing strategy.

“AI has done the impossible and given us those seconds and hours and days back in our lives. What we do with that, is on us. That is not a technical choice. That’s a human one.”

About this session

Meghan Keaney Anderson shares the importance of truly understanding and adopting new technology that presents a turning point for marketers.
Osama Zahid
Meghan Keaney Anderson
VP of Marketing

So great to see all of you are to see like the blur because the lights here are really strong, but I feel like you're all there, so that's good. It's been a great day. I'm happy to be able to wrap this up today. I want to start off with a quick story. A few years back, I was in the backseat of Lyft. I was making my way to an appointment. It was a beautiful spring day and I was absorbed in my phone, as you are. And the Lyft driver, he was a nice guy, right? He looked back at me a couple of times and he said, how are you? How are you doing? And I said the universal modern response, which is good. Busy and then he said something that I'll just never forget. He said, for all of our smarts, for all of our wealth, the one thing we'll never be able to do is add even one more second to the end of our days. Time has a speed. And, you know, it's a little cliche. It's a little trite. But it got to me that day. Right? shook me out of my emails, the Twitter thread I was reading, whatever was going on and made me think about our powerlessness. Tiny speck in the universe stuff. Right we've all had that moment. Because he was right. You know, he was right. Well mostly he was right, except that during a handful of times in the course of human history, we've had these moments often triggered by a technological advancement that allow us to make a major leap forward in our collective capacity. They give us seconds, hours, even days back in our lives. We'll call them expansion events. And if we're smart, we pour that time back into something meaningful. So one of my favorite technologists, a guy named clay shirky. Anybody here now? Clay shirky? Hands up. He wrote a lot about Web2 and specifically Wikipedia. And we take it for granted now, right? We use it all the time. But the ability to collaborate and contribute to the digital world around us, that was brought on by the second phase of the internet. That brought forth with it just an enormous upswing of knowledge. Of ideas of creation. Right so in 2010, right around the time that Wikipedia passed 100000000 hours of human contributions, clay shirky wrote that we are living through the largest expansion in expressive capability in human history. The largest in human history. And he was right. Well until now. These are the turning points that have defined modern business. The internet removed barriers to start a business. Web two. There is a connection. Mobile various to purchase the cloud, remove barriers to collaboration. And today I think we all know generative AI is removing barriers to creation all around us all the time. In the last year on Jasper. 15,103,281,925 words were written on Jasper. Just Jasper. Just 2022. Do you know how many words are on all of the English language articles on Wikipedia since its inception? $4.2 billion. Ladies and gentlemen, we are Lapping ourselves and we are doing it exponentially. Now, what's the point of all this? Right? why does that matter? Is this some sort of ego driven measuring contest to see how many words can be written in a year? No, of course not. The point, as Octavia says, it's a process to think. To persist until we hit upon something great. And that takes words. In fact, I'd argue that the only thing that has ever really held our ideas back has been our inability to convey them well and at scale. That and the time back to clear our heads for once and come up with new ones. What does this mean for marketing? Well, clearly, AI is a transformational technology, right? We're all here. We all kind of believe in that. We see there's potential. But transformational technologies require a transformation in strategy to really take hold. And that's why we're here today. We're here to figure out how to shift our strategies. Now before I go on. I just have a quick word. I know this is a mixed crowd. A quick word to my fellow marketers in the room. Just meet me over here at stage right for a second. We cannot mess this up. Too often we see a new technology or a new strategy in marketing, and we rush we sprint to the lowest bar of its usage. We see what it makes easier. Not what it makes possible. And listen, there are factors here. You know, this is not mal intent, immense pressure to do things faster and cheaper or to gamify it to such an extent that we extract every last ounce of value out of that channel or effort. Scorched Earth marketing. I get it. It happens. I've done it right. But let me give you a few examples. Social media. Social media was a fascinating expansion event for marketing in particular. It meant that the first time for the first time ever, we didn't have to be muted passengers in the flow of global information. We could connect with. Contribute and that led to some incredible things. That kind of participatory culture led to being a witness to under-reported stories connecting across borders and cultures. Incredible things and also great marketing, just really great marketing. It led to pave the way for things like Adobe's perspectives campaign, a user generated content campaign where people could share the art that they were creating on Adobe's platform. That went on for years, even long after Adobe, I'm sure, was investing money into it or time into it. This thing lived on because of social media, because of the power of their social pave the way for online communities of peer learning. Really the entire field of community management and all the software platforms that have come along with that tremendous growth. And then there was a time during the pandemic when we were all bored out of our minds. And this guy, Josh Swain, reached out to every other Josh Swain that he could find on Facebook Messenger. And got them to all agree to meet up in a field in Nebraska for a pool annual fight. And then at the end of that, they finally crowned this young boy King of all the judges. That's just awesome, right? And look, I know that last example wasn't exactly marketing, but I can't know about that story and not share it on the stage like this. It's just it's too good. The point is, the social media can be awesome. And it was an expansion event for marketing. But you knew this was coming. It can also lead marketers to do stuff like this. Now I don't have anything against seizing an opportunity or galaxy Licht's for that matter. They actually look really, really cool. But this is not living up to the promise of social media. Let's talk about another one. Mobile mobile phones led to the ability to access information everywhere and completely expanded the purchase window. The buying behavior change is a result of mobile. It advanced the field of thinking when it came to accessibility. Responsiveness UX design. It led to the growth of podcasts as people found new windows in their days and their commutes to consume content. Led to some incredible things for marketing. But it also led to this just utter insanity. Just to give me a little bit of a break club, if you've got a marketing SMS message on your phone right now. All right. Clap a little bit louder if you wish. The just by the sheer will of clapping, we can make them all stop. Yeah look, the point is not to bash on marketers. We are smart and lovely and adorable people. The point here is to save as many marketers as possible from falling into the same traps that have gotten to us before. Air is going to make us faster. We need to make sure it also makes us better. Better because we could take that time that we've saved and invested back into the work to elevate it. And wouldn't that be something, right? We've reached a turning point in marketing, and I'd argue this is bigger than mobile. This is bigger than social. This is on the scale of the internet itself. It's transformational technology requires transformations in strategy for AI to reach its potential for us to reach our potential. We need to change our approach. Now most marketers know what good content looks like and the creation process for it, for really quality stuff should look something like this. But it can't look something like this because we've got three blogs, a newsletter, a podcast script, and who knows how many Twitter threads or LinkedIn selfie posts that we have to do by Friday. So more often. It looks like this. And the thing is, when you short change ideation, you end up with a lot of posts like seven ways to use x for y or knock knock offs of your competitors, or buzzfeed, for that matter. And when you shortchange research, your content ends up shallow. When you shortchange editing, you let that shallow content through. And when you fail to optimize and repackage for different channels for distribution, you get less and less value out of each post. Not to mention that maxed out line in the middle there. That is killing your teams. It's burning them out. I brings that center bar down. It gives you that time back time that can be reinvested into the parts of the content strategy that we've long abandoned. But this doesn't just happen. If you adopt AI, but you don't make any changes in your strategy. Odds are you're just going to put out more content and probably not at the level of quality that should be. You need to be intentional about shifting not only your own view about content strategy, but your team's. One of the most powerful ways that we can shift our strategy or reset it is in thinking about how we structure and focus our teams. I want to give you an example, and this one goes way back. The year is 2020. 2015 Uptown Funk was at the top of the Billboard 100. So get that beat in your head. You got you got it again. I was working at HubSpot and our blog was just cranking content. And it made sense because every single post we put out there was like a route back to our website. Volume made sense at those days of content marketing. In fact, you're creating so much content. This is a true story that ran Fishkin, who was at seems at the time, essentially did a wellness check on our blogging team over Twitter. 10 posts a day. Are you guys OK? Do you need food? How can I help you? And so one of our content marketers at the time, a woman named Pam Von, she made an informed suggestion. She said, have we thought about trying less content for a change? And I say it was an informed suggestion because pan had looked at the data and what she had found in looking back at the data, was it in a given month, 70% of the traffic that we were going to get and 90% of the leads were going to old content. Content from two months ago. Six months ago. Three years ago. And so she posited the question. If that much value is going to old content. Why are 100% of our bloggers focused on creating new stuff? What if we took two of those bloggers and we got them off the content treadmill and into the editor seats, and we had them go back and optimize those posts, update them for changes that we had seen in Google's algorithm to better show up on search, make the path to conversion clearer, include new data and new statistics. Would that make a difference to our bottom line? The answer was a resounding Yes. After a pilot period, we saw a 100% lift in traffic and we doubled the leads by making less content. Structural shifts lead to strategic shifts. Now, I know that story predates a.I., or at least not a.I., but when I became a topic of discussion for every dinner table, including my parents. But this is an important example that structural shifts lead to strategic shifts. And this is doubly important because the big question out there right now is, will I kill marketing jobs? And the answer should be no. Because when you bring this composition bar down. The answer should be that you re-invest your team's time into the places we've long abandoned. If we do this well, we can shift the focus of our teams. So that they get off that content treadmill and into the editor seat, or they spend more time developing content, ideas and stories, hunting them down, finding new angles, doing better original research, conducting interviews. You know, the stuff that actually makes content good, right? And I say this because unless you do this. You will lose in a world where capacity is no longer an issue and everyone can generate the same amount of content as you unless you elevate the quality of your content. You will lose. Now I've been doing this for a little bit. And the pendulum of marketing always swings between limitations and breakthrough years. When I first got into marketing, advertising was the name of the game. And in that world, the companies that had the biggest ad budgets one. Uneven playing field. From the get go, you were a small business. Forget about it. Content marketing actually emerged as a foil to that. And when content marketing came about, you could attract people with organic content without having to have a massive budget for ads. And in that world, the biggest capacity, the biggest portfolio of content, that one. But that led to burnout among teens, a content deluge. Potentially the lowering of content quality. Today, general AI is emerging potentially as a foil to that. And my hope is that in this world, the best ideas will win. Good ideas aren't just stumbled upon. There's no muse. They aren't gifted to you from the heavens. They are worked for. And they are earned. We've spent the last decade putting all of our focus into the composition of content. Let's spend a little bit of time talking about what we mean by investing in the rest of the writing process. When you rush idea development, you end up with posts like this rehashes from last year's content. Kind of the shortest route you can get to something that matches the search terms that you want to rank for. When you invest in content, in idea development. Your ideas get better, and maybe they're not all home runs, but you're given the time to make attempts to try again to learn and get better. This isn't just better for content. It also addresses one of the big weaknesses of AI. And that is that. AI relies on patterns. It's not great. And finding new territory not as felt. It's brand new here. It's just getting going. But it's not great at that. Humans are great at that. We are great, great at finding new angles. And when you combine the power of eye with the originality of people, that is when stuff gets really good. Let's talk about research for a minute. When you rush research, your team uses stats from 2020. Or they link to statistics as a source. It is not a source. They pull quotes from any quote. Still a website surprisingly doing quite well, and they just try to find what they can in the limited time that they have to build up their content. When you invest in research, though, your team has the time and the space to do their own original research. To conduct interviews and studies, and then you end up owning that research and other people link back to you to get it. And it also counters another limitation of AI. Which is the fact that there is inherent bias in and lack of representation in the AI that we use when it goes untouched and on complemented by New research. By Sunday. I comes from a lot of different places. It's not a quick fix. We can't find the bug and address it. It's partially because it's trained on a very broad but still confined set of training materials. It's partially because it absorbs some of the inherent bias that we have as humans. But because of this, it's not an easy fix as rosy Campbell from OpenAI has underscored here. So original research matters. Finding human stories and conducting outside research are a foil and a way to get substance and content substance into your content and to get eye out of the echo chamber. Let's talk about editing. I want to talk about the editing process. Because I feel like editing is going to be one of the most essential roles in a content team moving forward. For too long we've rushed editing. We see it as a spellcheck or we make sure that our links are broken. Those are important things. We need to do that. But have time squeezed it. When you invest in editing, your team finally has a time to fact check for misinformation to find shallow posts or rushed parts of a topic, to check for bias and make sure that there's representation in what you're putting out there. Editors are going to be essential in an age of AI. And if you're underinvesting in it, if you don't have an editor or if you're having your writers edit their own stuff, now is a time to start to look at that, to start to figure out if we can shift some of that. Save time back into the editing process to make content better and to heighten the quality of AI as a whole. If left alone without human guidance, outputs are just words on a page. Really freaking impressive words on a page, but words. Editors can ensure that we're not just putting out content. We're putting out content that's worth consuming. And that matters not just to your readers. Matters to search. Back in. I want to say six months ago, September ish, Google released their helpful content update, and at that time we got a lot of people who were really concerned about it because it talked about automation and content. And the big question back then was, oh, does Google hate ai? It's funny that it's funny to even say that now because of last week. But does Google hate AI or are they going to automatically, you know, can they detect that I have used AI and are they going to penalize me so that my content doesn't rank? And there was so much confusion about it that Google has come out on multiple occasions since then, including as recently as last week, to say very clearly that they do not hate AI content. What they hate is junk content. And you can get junk content by using AI without editing it, or you can get junk content by hiring hundreds marketers or freelancers to try to churn it out really quickly. Both of those could result in John content. That is what they penalize. That is what they care about. Editors, researchers, journalists who find good stories are going to be essential in a post World. All right, finally. When you rush distribution. Well, actually. Let me rewind for a moment. Oh, distribution. You know, I had a great section here for distribution. It was nice and compact, just like the other ones slides were done. And then last week, literally a day after I had wrapped the slide deck, closed my laptop and said, it's good. I think it's good from here. Microsoft and Google both had announcements about AI and search. And as Jasper's head of seo, Krista Doyle, said in the moment, hold onto your butts. If you are heavily reliant on Search. And most of us are. Search is one of the biggest levers in marketing today. Things are going to seriously change. We don't know exactly how they're going to change yet. But the ramifications of this change will undoubtedly affect every single channel. Search search. Ads influencers. Referrals it's going to make some more influential. It's going to make some less influential. And we have yet to suss out which. So this likely could and likely will be a whole separate talk. But we're one week in to these product announcements, and so time is going to make us smarter rather than make a big prediction here about how search is going to change. I'm just going to say this. Reinvest the time that your team has been spending on the content treadmill into exploring the ways over the next 6 to 12 months that distribution is going to be changing. If you're heavily reliant on organic or search ads, perhaps now is the time to diversify your acquisition sources. Perhaps not. Perhaps nothing will change. But it is worth spending the time now to give yourself that safety net. If you have an inside Scottie. Make sure they have time to run experiments on this, to watch it, to study it. It's not often we get this much change in one year. Give your team the time to explore it, and if you do that, you'll come out a pioneer on the other side. The point is, do not rest on your laurels. Each of these areas ideas, research, editing, distribution, they're all about to become far more consequential to your business. And look less. Any of this sounds daunting. Just remember that this is what marketers are good at. Everything changed when the internet first came about. Everything changed after social and after mobile. And guess what? We found a way forward through that change. We got new skills, we found new purpose, and this will be no different. This is an exciting time to be in marketing. Because we are going to get to not only experience and witness all that's changing. We're going to get a chance to shape how we come out the other side. Now, listen, you've heard a. You've heard a lot of grandiose terms. Including in my talk when it comes to I. And while it does have the potential to be those things, it's also important to remember that this is just a piece of technology, a tool like a calculator or a digital camera. It doesn't come to life until it is in our hands. It doesn't become transformational until we do. I is going to make things easier, but it's also going to require that we step up. Now, before I go, I want to play something for you. So if I can, I'm going to ask the AV team's help for just a moment to bring up a bit of a song. You you. OK Thank you. We can break it down now. All right. So what you've just heard is a piece of a composition by David COPE and his computer ME or experiments in musical intelligence. David koepp, you see, was a celebrated composer for about 30 years before he hit a wall in the 1980s. A classic case of writer's block. No ideas left in his mind, he thought. And so, in a moment of frustration, he started programming a computer, trading it with the likes of Bach and Mozart, stravinsky, people that he had, really, composers that he had really admired. And out from that programming sprung just a sea of new music. Now, in the beginning, it was pretty formulaic, right? Learning off of patterns. But David COPE had a breakthrough. And his breakthrough was that he realized that what made music special? What made these composers great? We're yes, they're skilled, but also the times and the ways that they broke their own patterns, leaned into their mistakes, acted human. And so in the next iteration, the next phase, David COPE blended his own personal perspectives, his own experience, his own emotions, his own instincts about music with the velocity that his computer. Could create. Since that time, he has said in interviews that I have been composing for 60 years of my life, 30 of it in traditional ways, and 30 of it with technology. To go back now would be like trying to dig a hole with your fingers. After the invention of the shovel. David COPE was never worried about his computer being better than him. He saw it as the tool that it was nothing more. Because that was enough. When combined with human ingenuity. Judgment, experience. Emotion, perspective. AI as a tool is enough. He was asked in an interview about whether I was going to make his music soulless. And he said the question isn't whether computer excuse me, computers possess a soul, but if we do. Technology can make us better, if better is what we want to be. AI has dissolved one of the longest standing human barriers as open the door. The question is, will the absence of that weight make us better or lazier? Intellectually stronger, more curious or complacent. Air has done the impossible and given us those seconds and hours and days back in our lives. What we do with that is on us. That is not a technical choice, my friends. That's a human one. As human as it gets. Thank you so much and have a great evening.

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