Don’t Use Generative AI Content for Marketing

The big story of the past year was AI technology and the thing that’s driving it — Generative AI.

We’ve all endured the hype about the potential of generative AI, a euphoric period that drove the stock market to new heights and took Nvidia and AMD to ridiculous valuations.  So the hype helps to raise stock prices and sell stuff.

Generative AI does something more when it’s used in marketing. It melts down brands, and erodes the powerful human voice of your brand.  The result?  You’ll need to raise your advertising spend more to regain a sincere, personal connection with audiences.

What a clever virus of the big advertising companies (Google, Facebook)! Perhaps, the ultimate Trojan Horse. And the use of Generative AI goes against the quality mandate of Google and other companies. The fact is, we generally only produce a limited amount of high quality content (best for our brand, and ideal for our promotional budgets) so the lust for mountains of content doesn’t make sense.

The use of AI insults content creators, suggesting they can’t produce enough good quality content and that a commercial chatbot is more reliable and credible.

Creating a Deficit of Trust, Credibility and Differentiation

My key point in this post, is that generative AI output will create a mess of consumer trust and dissolve the power of brands.

However, this deficit of trust does mean companies will lean more heavily on human creators to make the brand lovable and trusted.  This may already be happening.  Companies are moving massive amounts of money into influencer marketing.  Is it because their own marketing has already died? Is it because everyone is desperate to find a credible, trustworthy guidance in a sea of lies, machine miscommunication and fakery?

After all, an influencer is a genuine human person with a real, enduring human connection to consumers that includes travel stories, shared experiences, live podcasts, and social engagement with them. It seems consumers are searching for a credible human to share their experiences, views, questions, and joy of travel. A conversation with with a bot and getting its feedback is not something any human enjoys.

Today, some 2 billion people are availing themselves of Generative AI tools and the trend is increasing in digital marketing.

 

You’ll soon understand why I’ve renamed it as “de-generative AI.

Generative AI lacks freshness and authentiticity
Artificial isn’t Fresh. Image: Gord Collins

When AI Takes over Your Marketing

Like most content creators, I initially thought Generative AI could be trained to duplicate a person or a brand style and copywriters, content strategists, SEOs, and branding consultants wouldn’t be needed. Its the jobless AI world where humans aren’t really needed anymore.

Truth is, generative AI has been oversold. I bring the topic into view now, while recognizing the harm is even more insidious than this.

 

A little AI help can go a long way — to killing your brand and creativity.

 

There is nothing like human creativity.  Your brand manager’s expertise and your copywriter’s unique creative, nuanced voice is the essence of a brand. If you alienate your own brand style, for a watered-down AI version, you’re wiping out its potency and allure — which is a genuine human to human communication.

Each company and content creator is unique.  Robots don’t understand emotions and this personal attraction between humans (company and customer). And there is nothing like our unique brand. It’s a subtle, personal, emotional thing and is your company’s most precious asset. It has to be protected.  Erode your travel brand and you kill your company.

Instead, we should make our content genuine, unique, appealing and personal, to build impact, engagement and market leadership that can’t be copied.

And Generative AI is all about fake, scraped, contrived according to a digital algorithm, and non-unique.  It removes the human voice which in travel is vitally important.  Letting AI design your brand voice is certain to fail.

Generative AI is False Content

Generative AI fakes your people, UVP, content, and brand in a common way that you won’t control.  It begins making your brand decisions, brand personality, content and relationships with your customers (Chatbots), all artificial.  And deep fake technology is showing us further, that this technology holds the seeds of much worse things as your reputation online is altered by AI bots.

For travel agencies and tour guides, generative AI is an unneeded barrier between you and your beloved customers. Authenticity, trust, relevance, significance, and the emotions of desire are personal and should not be handed over to robots. 

Every time your customer uses or is exposed to generative AI, they are pulled away from you into that pool of brand mediocrity being produced on masse across the web and social channels (Generative AI’s database). It’s guaranteed alienation for your customers.

When your senior leadership diminishes your creative producers in favor of AI-generated mediocrity, your company’s future is in danger.

What is Generative AI Content?

Generative Content AI is scraped content from available web/databases (old and outdated) which is then processed to provide useful, quick insights into topics for readers/viewers.  It draws from the common views/understanding of topics from millions of websites/media portals and then fashions a storyline consistent with that collected input.  Therefore, via a standardized algorithm, it outputs the popular opinion of the day — which can be falsehoods.

Why the Euphoria over Generative AI?

Generative content creation is hyped as a cheap way to produce massive amounts of content at expert level. It’s supposed to take millions and millions of digital service companies, service departments, and marketing/content producers out of mediocrity to top producer/quality levels.

But it’s not expert-level content.

It’s a common white-washed output that offers no differentiation and sounds like everyone else’s content. Everyone can use the same material if they want to.  A bot such as Google Gemini comes to one conclusion about topics and truths.  And it’s working the same way for your competitors.  Hundreds of millions of AI jockies are using the same AI services such as ChatGPT and the hapless Google Gemini to push out similar, unvalidated content.

What is Web Scraping? Image: DataScience Central

It’s public domain content with all its flaws, untruths, inaccuracies, lack of credibility and mistakes scraped off of the publicly available web and processed by an algorithm. It’s extracted from other unfortunate companies which have had their unique branded content stolen and tortured, and placed in brand-damaging places.

That’s why you should try to get your content excluded from ChatGPT or Gemini. Block ChatGPT and Block Google Gemini, because it can only do your company harm. OpenAI just announced they will be scraping content from Reddit, an opinionated forum for know it alls. It’s not expert content.

AI bots can strain your web server too, slowing your website down.  This robots.txt helps you block them if they abide by the rules. Most AI bots will not which means a more comprehensive method to stop them (the second, php script below).

#Robots
User-agent: GPTBot
Disallow: /
User-agent: Google-Extended Disallow: /

To block others from stealing, copying and leveraging your high quality content, you can implement a php script on your server to stop them.  This script blocks most scrapers from grabbing more than 50 pages (except known major search engines). If your ecommerce partner bots need access to your site, then they can also be allowed access.

<?php
// Function to check if the user agent is a known bot
function isBot($userAgent) {
$bots = array(
'Googlebot',
'Bingbot',
'Yahoo! Slurp',
'DuckDuckBot',
// Add more bots as needed
);
foreach ($bots as $bot) {
if (stripos($userAgent, $bot) !== false) {
return true;
}
}
return false;
}

// Function to track bot visits
function trackBotVisit($ip) {
$visits = isset($_SESSION['bot_visits']) ? $_SESSION['bot_visits'] : array();
$visits[$ip] = isset($visits[$ip]) ? $visits[$ip] + 1 : 1;
$_SESSION['bot_visits'] = $visits;
}

// Function to check and block bots
function checkAndBlockBot() {
session_start();
$ip = $_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'];
$userAgent = $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'];

// Check if the user agent is a known bot
if (isBot($userAgent)) {
// Allow major search engine bots to access without restrictions
if (stripos($userAgent, 'Googlebot') !== false || stripos($userAgent, 'Bingbot') !== false) {
return;
}

// For other bots, track visits and apply restrictions
trackBotVisit($ip);
if ($_SESSION['bot_visits'][$ip] > 50) {
header("HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden");
exit;
}
}
}
// Call the function to check and block bots
checkAndBlockBot();
?>

If they fake their identity to your web server and still steal your content, you can take stronger measures.  Consider using Cloudflare’s one click anti-bot service to block them, and save your server bandwidth.  Find out more at Cloudflare.

De-Generative AI is stealing and leveraging your high-quality, branded content for someone else’s benefit and profit, and you’ll get no credit.

 

Data Distorted, Misunderstood, Repackaged and Spewed Out Again

There’s more. Right now ChatGPT and Google Gemini are actually scraping/regurgitating their own previous output which has been published by digital marketers. You can see how this recycling of robot-produced material gets laughably silly. Do you think this material should be infused into your web content?

Not having your own expert travel writers and videographers research, design and produce your content says the worst things about your brand quality. That natural voice is a character they come to know and trust — and is the essence of repeat sales and customer loyalty.

 

Why Would Google Push for Generative AI?

Google’s into it big time, but not without reservations.

When searchers use the new Gemini Search Generative Experience, they are bypassing Google’s historic, money-making search box with its list of search results. Users get one answer to their question which is often not so helpful.  And that one answer might be provided by a few select corporations.  Or, Google won’t provide links to informative sources, and try to answer the query using Gemini alone. Users might stop their search quest, or just leave Google.com. Very risky.

The real purpose of Gemini may be to get rid of websites so users can click on ads, and stay on Google where they’re given one answer for one question. This is the likeliest scenario.

If users want to find your content, they may have to use other search engines. The threat to SMB’s is obvious and we’ll have to be on our toes to survive.

The fact is, Google’s ad revenue unit is struggling, so they’re looking for ways to manipulate the search engine to deal with lost revenues. Google SGE actually diminishes their revenues because it short circuits a lengthy human search resulting in fewer ad clicks. SGE feeds into their revenue deficit.  And, Google delivers fewer searchers to sites with its AdSense advertising, thus reducing ad revenues there.

When asked about SGE’s downside, Google always responds to superficial, theoretical criticisms, not the real long-term harm highlighted above.

What do some Reviewers Say about Google Gemini SGE?

Criticism of Google SGE.
SGE. Image: Google

Humans Writing for Humans

Humans writing for humans is more effective (if done well).  It’s authentic, trustworthy, and readers are more emotionally immersed — the flaws make it more relatable.  It’s more natural and organic and travel consumers are more persuaded by it.  And if they realize that your brand is using generative AI robot content, it could destroy the intimate relationship with your brand. That loss of trust is damaging.

AI is a brand killer. It’s corrosive, poisonous and leads your precious, unique brand into a sea of common mediocrity.

 

It’s unwise to use input from ChatGPT/Gemini because it will skew your content away from your brand strengths. And it will demoralize your content creators who are now decommissioned to some extent. Even the Grammarly Gen AI tool can lead you down a path you’ll regret.

And with deepfake technology causing huge problems now, you’ll want your brand far away from AI, because consumers will fear that stuff and dislike it.

It is far wiser to hire an authentic human content creator and give them all the resources they need and ensure your audience has a relationship with this real person. Hopefully, you can find and hire good writers, graphic artists, and videographers.

An Embarrassment for Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Linkedin

Now in mid-2024, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Linkedin, and every other media company that pushed AI onto us, are wrestling with how to eliminate the AI-generated junk that’s clogging their service and their brand reputations.  Much of Google’s core update in March was about rewarding authenticity and trustworthiness and filtering out AI-generated spam.

Their ranking algorithm looks for proof that the content was written by a real, experienced, or respected authority in the topic.  It’s looking to filter out all the rest, even if it’s helpful.  Helpful content seems okay to Google, but it will only be presented to searchers if the author’s authority and trust factor are high. So, it’s borrowing from a human.

It’s an embarrassing situation for Google. The more powerful and current Google Gemini becomes, the more autogenerated spam they have to deal with.

The Quality of Output is Grossly Overstated

Even with upgrades to ChatGPT-4, Microsoft CoPilot, and Google Gemini, the output is disappointing. Believe me, during these last few years, I was hoping to access this AI monster and learn, learn, learn.  But the learning never came. It’s just a reprocessing of junk misinformation and mediocre output. They aren’t able to determine what’s real and high quality.

And using Generative AI undermines the power of your own individual research which disempowers the whole learning process.

While these tools might be able to describe a journey through Italy or produce an Italian recipe, the algorithm lacks a real human feel and it doesn’t really know what the implications of its output are. Trying to rebrand it so it works for your client is just extra hard work that wears you out.

Rely on Thyself

I discovered that the best resource is self-reliance and finding talented industry writers via research.  Each time, it’s up to me to search on Google for the authentic content/research/people I need to produce the most compelling content. In fact, Google Search is far better (not Gemini) because it rates trustworthiness and credibility. At least to some degree.

Ann Smarty discusses the challenge Google has in validating authority in her article on credible authors. It seems “vanity metrics” ruin the algorithm and promote “loud” people online.  And I suspect, the algorithm is affected by the autogenerated spam from Generative AI.  Google’s deep into a mess it might not get out of.

Using ChatGTP/Gemini for content is like using deepfake video.  It’s basically trying to fake something, either a person, brand, style and automate it. And in an iterative process, it begins faking itself, LOL!

For your critically important travel content, the final product is not your authentic, real, personal and engaged brand.  Instead, it becomes a reasonable facsimile — and your audience senses this and loses trust and belief.

Soon, Generative AI will have its big crisis, because consumers won’t trust anything they read or see online. It’s a digital world of fakery improving on in its abilities. And everyone, in a panic, will try to regain authenticity, through real, trusted human creators with their flaws, peculiar styles and magnetism.

In the end, a real human is the core of authenticity, trust, and credibility. They must reference real people.

Generating a Sea of Sameness

Consider too that if everyone is using the same Generative AI tools, then they’re getting the same output, which Google’s algorithm is detecting. Those fast-produced articles all of a sudden become very dismissable by Google and your visitors. It translates to falling rankings and less organic traffic.

This is what is making search engine optimization and rankings so difficult now — spam, volume, and the requirement to prove you’re trustworthy. And Google can see the patterns in AI-generated content because they’re algorithm created it.

Are you Using Generative AI Articles on Your Site or on Social Media?

Your contributing travel writers may be using ChatGPT-4 and Google BARD/Gemini right now to produce articles, graphics, videos, posts, ads, etc for your marketing campaigns. You like the convenience, cost savings and they do their work fast. But the real cost comes later after your audience gets its fill of mediocre computer-generated muck that’s not so pleasing to the travel pallet.

Once your customers leave and your brand is damaged, how much will it cost to recover?

 

As AI systems proliferate, all content and advertising looks and sounds the same and is thus forgettable. And if Google can access 100 other articles/sites with the same content, why would they choose to display yours?

In the process of using generative AI, content creators get lazy and lose their drive and power of creativity. They’re the ones who bring your brand to life and make it special to your paying audience.  It’s all a downward spiral for a travel business which needs to be special and differentiated.  Because your content is like a traveler’s best, most trusted friend.

Great content that ranks, impacts, engages and generates leads is uniquely differentiated via your UVP.  It creates a customer that only wants your travel packages, agency, hotel, or tours. The uniqueness of the message is a message itself, which tells them they are special, that you care, and you have something special just for them. It is personalization and so much more.

It Could Ruin your Google Search Rankings

Back to Google Search which is critically important for small to medium size business marketing.

And Google’s system is sensitive to AI-generated material. They look for text patterns humans can’t see. Then they silently apply penalties which you have no way to understand or respond to. Once detected on your site, they may never trust you again.

We use Google search because we trust it’s giving us the most credible, trusted information.

And relying on ChatGPT for SEO is sure to create mediocrity. How your content is optimized is another trust signal for Google’s ranking algorithm. Trust, authenticity, authority, real personal accounts, proven expertise, and links from other sites validate your content.

What authoritative website/author would link to an AI-generated article?

Further, when material from Generative AI content is published and regurgitated online, it can implicate or describe your business wrongly, which in turn can affect your Google search engine rankings.

And AI-generated SEO can interfere with expert-level customized SEO rendering it ineffective.

Good Reasons Not to Use Generative AI

Here are some key reasons you should not use Generative AI for your content marketing:

  • it’s low-quality information that could taint your brand, trust and credibility
  • it can diminish the value of your creators and other staff
  • it’s copycat material that Google catches in its filters which then could result in lower rankings (duplicate content)
  • it’s associated with low-quality content, spam, fakery, fraud, and deception which is a neighborhood you don’t want to be in
  • unwittingly, you may be passing along statements/material on your that Google has already flagged as untruthful thus implicating your site in a web of lies — your rankings will fall
  • it’s not human-verified and thus may be seriously inaccurate (such as with medical information)
  • it’s not well verified or cited by credible sources (doesn’t meet Google’s EEAT algo check)
  • AI systems hallucinate in their data pool and make stuff up (system errors)
  • it produces common/mediocre output that will diminish your unique brand differentiation (it doesn’t understand your brand in a human way, because it’s just a computer program)
  • it outputs biases and stereotypes which are not good for your brand

  • Google considers it spam (despite statements about high-quality AI material) and will increase penalties against the deluge of AI-produced material (Google’s under pressure in how it’s helping to fill its own database full of junk)
  • it could lead to lawsuits for copyright infringement

Generative AI content is public content that may carry negative connotations in many ways you can’t see. Why bring that unknown threat into your business?

Quality is the Issue, and that takes Expertise, Skill and Time

And for content creators, quality is the issue. There is simply no way to remove real talent. And you may not be able to augment it. And would you trust an AI algorithm to train your travel writers to become sophisticated, unique and magnetic creators? Or would it ruin your contributors too?

Travel writers and videographers are well advised to encourage clients to let them take the time to do good research in their own style, and follow a natural human route to producing great content. They were doing it before.  Content that’s too organized, sequential, mundane, etc,  comes across as contrived and not an enjoyable adventure. And in travel, that’s not good.

Creators need to slow down, enrich their work with spontaneity, their real experience, emotions and thoughts, and ensure it’s personalized to their specific niche audience, to build a unique, inimitable brand image.

Build A Unique, Memorable, Engaging Digital Brand

If you’re using Gen AI tools to help you create itineraries, recommendations, service packages, pricing schemes, marketing content, or customer service, be careful that you’re not serving up brand-killing mediocrity.

Once your business sounds like any other, there’s little reason why your customers won’t leave for a better price elsewhere.
The only thing that can help you keep your customers and generate qualified targeted prospects is unique travel content wherever you’re publishing it.

Your travel content exudes your excellent brand character. The character, spirit, unique relevant experiences, photography, and phrasing makes all the difference to its success. AI doesn’t get that stuff right even if you try to train it.

In the end for your travel audience, is that your content is a genuine promise of value in a flavor/style that resonates with them such that they know you care about them. This caring thing is something we must get right.

And when they read or watch, they’re silently asking “does this company care about me?” Does a robot know what caring is?

Generative AI does not communicate this promise of human caring, sharing and fulfillment.  A generative AI robot cannot deliver this essential element that is the essence of your value proposition.

It’s wise to hire unique expertise and train/coach them to build your unique brand to stellar, marketing leading heights.

If you’re looking to build a lasting quality brand and stay in business long term, review my travel marketing services and contact me, Gord, at 416 998 2646.  Hire a travel marketer whom you can train to produce unique, impactful, engaging and persuasive content.

Read more on how to create great travel articles, how to enrich your travel content and how to create content that resonates with your customers travel dreams.