ChatGPT won’t replace human-led strategy, but it will enhance it

By Rob Davis, Chief Marketing Officer at NOVUS

Here’s a fun game to play if you’re in the marketing industry. In your next conversation with colleagues, clients, or fellow industry travelers, how many minutes pass before ChatGPT (or generative AI) comes up?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Generative AI is terribly exciting, a revolutionary force, and very likely to fundamentally change every industry in ways both big and small.

It’s also in its first innings, with plenty of examples of generative Ի, with others demonstrating how easy it was to .

Is generative AI an industry savior? Will it upend the competitive landscape? Should you be wondering if it’ll replace you? If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you probably remember that programmatic was coming for your jobs years ago. But if anything, the digital ecosystem and need for digital talent only increased.

There are similarities between generative AI and programmatic advertising: Both are disruptive tools offering companies a new way to reach customers with tailored and targeted solutions. They can automate previously onerous tasks and functions, and quickly and automatically alter approaches based on external factors. Neither is a replacement for strategy—strategy is an art that requires human intuition. Instead, programmatic and generative AI are valuable tools that help inform and execute against a strategy.


As with any new development promising to change the world, generative AI is caught up in a bit of one step forward, two steps back.

But its unparalleled promise means some marketing executives are rushing head over heels to outsource their strategy to the tool. Creative agencies are using image-based AI tools like  to create visual examples to help generate ideas, and both creative and media agencies are using prompt-based generative AI chats like ChatGPT and Bard to get ideas for taglines, campaigns, and content.

While we share an enthusiasm for embracing radically new technology, we believe a careful, experimental approach, using generative AI for specific tasks, is the best path forward. As with any new technology, there are some current challenges and opportunities.

Three challenges to be aware of when considering ChatGPT:

1. Generative AI Struggles With Accuracy

Generative AI has made many mistakes (such as ), which you could chalk up to it being in its infancy. As this Mashable  astutely states: “Need ideas? Great! Need facts? Stay away!” But some experts believe it will be nearly impossible to ; suffice to say, you need to take responses with a grain of salt. Fact-check anything important.

2. An Advertising/Media Strategy Dependent On Generative AI Will Lack Originality Necessary For Modern Environments

Humans are bombarded with anywhere from . True breakthrough moments come from out-of-the-box thinking, which generative AI will not likely achieve for some time. Generative AI is trained on , including Wikipedia, The New York Times, and other major publishers, as well as self-publishing platforms like Tumblr, WordPress, and Blogspot. Don’t forsake your creativity by searching for a tool that promises to do it all.

3. Agencies That Want To Outsource Everything To Generative AI Will Encounter Difficult Client Questions

Clients want their agencies to always be on the cutting edge of technological advancements while showing prudence. If it feels like their agencies are leaving their strategic duties and well-earned creative vision to a computer program, they’re liable to wonder exactly why they need that agency.


It Solves Bottlenecks

If you’re struggling with different taglines or don’t have the time to outline a presentation or whitepaper, asking ChatGPT to rattle off 30 variations of your general theme is a great way to produce some breakthrough. It can break brainstorming deadlocks and create new direction to discuss groundbreaking ideas. Once you’ve landed on copy or a theme, it can help you generate many variations, which you can use for segments and personalized messages.

It’s Amazing At Synthesizing Volumes Of Data

Generative AI can help allocate media budgets across channels, audiences, and geographies based on a specific set of rules. It can also take your data and produce human language-based insights or charts, tables, and slides. Best of all, your employees can take those cleanly packaged insights and use their experience to guide clients to their next big opportunity.

It Excels At Predictive Intelligence

By feeding it past campaign data and any relevant information for an upcoming campaign, you can predict ad performance before you even launch a campaign. If the predictions are not bowling you over, you can adjust your pre-campaign spend or targets and re-run the numbers to see if it’s now predicted to outperform the previous approach.

It Can Replace Certain Tasks

My company, for example, has started using AI for voiceovers in our case study videos, which has saved time and cost on recording sessions and re-edits, money in talent costs, and more flexibility in being able to switch voices / “audition” in seconds. The final product is appropriate quality for the task, and we can allocate saved resources and costs to other projects that need them.

At NOVUS, we fear not the robots. They’ll help us deliver more value, and we’re committed to being extremely transparent with our clients about how and why we use generative AI and will use it in the future. We still think our biggest asset is our people; we believe this technology will provide them with a superpower, not a replacement for their expertise.

I couldn’t help myself: I asked ChatGPT specifically if it would replace marketers. It said, verbatim: “While AI and automation have the potential to change the marketing industry, it is unlikely that ChatGPT or any other AI technology will replace marketers entirely.”

I’m inclined to believe this one.