In the BBC? Yeah, You Know Me!

  • August 9, 2021

By Verity Jennings

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Phrasee had a “kind of a big deal” moment as we were featured in the BBC in an article called “Why artificial intelligence is being used to write adverts.” It’s an excellent discussion of how AI is working together with human copywriters to improve upon what they’re already doing by applying some data to the process.

And while we’re flattered (blushing, really, if we’re being honest), the real hero of the story is Saul Lopes, former director of CRM at Currys (formerly Dixons Carphone), who fellow marketers can learn a lot from.

Image showing Saul Lopes, director of CRM, Dixons Carphone and Parry Malm, CEO, Phrasee

Here are just a few highlights:

  • AI can dream up things you wouldn’t. Saul talks about how all of its copywriters came up with Black Friday subject lines, but the winning subject line (generated by AI) didn’t mention Black Friday at all. We think it’s important to keep in mind that “best practices” can become outdated pretty quickly, and AI is great for helping marketers think outside of their box. Take note of what “we’ve always done it that way” habits you might be stuck in and take the opportunity to test something different.
  • No, it’s not going to steal your job. As Saul tells us in the article, “…the human brain can’t look at thousands of options. Our writing team sets out the strategy for the messages, we haven’t replaced them. Combining creative people with AI is the next step for the agencies. It’s not AI versus the human.” At Phrasee, we couldn’t agree more. Our technology is built by humans, directed by humans, and has its output checked and approved by humans. The combination of our language team (100% human, as far as we know) and our machines is our secret sauce, and we’re glad that more businesses are waking up to that hybrid approach.
  • The competition between humans and AI can be friendly and phun. Saul and his team hold competitions to see who can guess what the winning line from Phrasee will be. “It’s an internal game, we do it just before we push every new message out. And we always lose to the computer!” So if your office Final Four pool or Superbowl Squares are getting stale, why not let AI spice things up?
“More of the creative work these days is not being done by humans at all.”

We’d also like to send out our heartfeltiest calming vibes to Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland, who is also quoted in the article. He has understandable concerns about using AI to generate ad copy, but as the article tells us, “If AI can be that third party source of constructive criticism it has a home in his world. But he definitely won’t allow it a deciding vote.”

Rory, you’re spot on about wanting to maintain human control over anything AI-generated. But we’d invite you to try it, to see what the possibilities are when you let AI come up with something that your human copywriters wouldn’t have on their own. As Saul and his team have seen, along with so many others, adding machine learning to the process of content creation leads to higher conversion rates. And isn’t any ad only as good as the sales it generates?

OK, we’ll hop off our little soapbox and look ahead to the next few months, which will bring us the busiest shopping season of the year. As you prep for the peak retail season, you might be wondering how to make the most of it. We’ve written a guide for retail marketers with some helpful tips (and yes, ways to use AI in your marketing are definitely in there!).