The era of generative AI technologies has begun, and it’s time that editorial content creators adapt to the new realities.

Over the past several years, the importance of generative AI tech has been gradually moving to the center focus of various discussions at online ad conferences across the globe. Quite predictably, this reached its peak in 2023, upon the release of ChatGPT 4, Google’s Bard, and many more AI-powered solutions, supposedly aimed at streamlining the creation of online content. Namely, some of the hottest topics at OMR, DMEXCO, and other industry events this year have been:

  • How should we approach generative AI?
  • Is it our friend or foe?
  • Will it disrupt, if not destroy the creator ecosystem, as we currently know it?

The trick is, neither the global scare of AI, nor the acute desire to embrace and implement it in every aspect of the company’s organizational processes (e.g. the use AI business name generators, various conversational chatbots, AI-based reporting tools, etc.), has the potential to become a viable business model. What can be considered an efficient strategy, however, is the somewhat moderate approach, which takes advantage of specific AI properties, while keeping its use more or less limited in favor of the human’s creative resourcefulness.

Well, while an idea of such a moderate approach may sound promising, the fact is, its essence couldn’t be vaguer. In plain words, there’s no unified, commonly-known concept yet, which would be equally usable across different market verticals. That’s why many businesses, particularly in the editorial niche, seem to be bouncing from one side to the other, as of today.

Pivoting to AI

Undoubtedly, one of the alarmist headlines in H1 2023 was the release of Goldman Sachs’ report, stating that AI could potentially replace several hundred million jobs, amidst the global wave of layouts in the online tech sphere.

Quite predictably, it didn’t take very long until a number of companies decided to move forward with this “inevitable replacement” tactic, from Dropbox announcing the layoff of 500 people in favor of AI in April 2023, to Gizmodo letting go of the entire staff of its Spanish language website, replacing them with AI tech later in summer.

To add it to the melting pot of embrace-all-AI-related news, according to the Europol report, for instance, up to 90% of all digital content might be so-called “synthetically-generated” by 2026, which means the shift from people to AI in the digital editorial sector will only accelerate in future, right?

The fact is, even if such an assumption is somewhat exaggerated, the idea of securing the creators’ rights has been growing with time, correspondingly to the galloping generative AI growth.

Fighting the Generative AI Beast

Clearly, one of the most notable actions by large publishers in 2023, including Bloomberg, CNN and the New York Times, for example, was blocking the GPTBot on their websites, hence limiting OpenAI’s crawler access to their content.

Some of the global publishers and broadcasters went further, insisting on better regulation in their joint letter, calling on the governments to provide extra protection from intellectual property theft by generative AI tech solutions, e.g. by requiring content licensing permits prior to any use of original editorial content.

And in the US, aside from the industry-wide 148-day Writers Guild strike, aimed at creating some extra protection barriers against AI theft of creators’ jobs, 15,000+ authors have also signed an open letter to tech giants, like OpenAI, Meta, Microsoft, Alphabet and others, asking them to establish the infrastructure for obtaining authors’ consent, as well as crediting and fairly compensating them, in case their creative works are being used in/by AI-based tech.

Well, with the tentative agreement between the writers and the studios now reached, the key question remains: what’s next in the publisher-AI dichotomy?

How Publishers Can Adapt to the AI-Driven Digital Era

Like it or not, neither the strict regulation nor the complete blocking of ChatGPT can actually prevent the further penetration of generative AI into the digital publishing industry. What online creators can do instead, however, is try and retransform their business by being proactive in experimenting with AI technologies.

Easier said than done you’d think, so here are several practical tips:

  • Fill in coverage gaps & scale content personalization using AI

While the notion of content automation is still frowned upon, when it comes to website/app original content, composing email newsletters with summarized coverage of the major headlines can be a working tactic.

In addition, the use of ChatGPT-like tech enables speeding up the creation of highly personalized content variations, where the editor would review and adjust the final result prior to delivering it to viewers.

  • Savor and embrace the human approach to truth

What AI technologies can’t offer is the ability to capture human emotional experiences, let alone provide a profound, truthful outlook of the events happening in real time, and here’s where the growth area for news publishers remains.

Unlike providing a brief, summarized overview of what either side of a story has to say about it, journalists have a big advantage of teaching their audience of critical thinking, providing a deeper, more insightful understanding of the entirety of the context, and its nuances.

Indeed, this has a meaningful impact on the overall trustworthiness of online news sources and can potentially help prevent the global spread of disinformation, hence should remain in the limelight of the publishers’ focus.