Naturally, copywriters are both a bit skeptical and a bit nervous that, if the software works well, it will put them out of work.
And, although copywriters might be skeptical, examples of machines pushing humans out of jobs abound. For instance, when self-service, push-button elevators were introduced in the 1920s, thousands of elevator operators throughout the country were out of a job, including Joe, a gentleman who worked the elevator in my father’s office.
The copywriting software company getting the most PR currently is New York-based Persado. A Venture Capital Dispatch Blog post for The Wall Street Journal ran a headline on Jan. 22 that boldly proclaimed: “Persado Raises $21 Million to Replace Human Copywriters With Computers".
But, as it turns out, the WSJ misinterprets what Persado’s software is really doing. So let me set the record straight, based on a recent interview I conducted with Persado CMO David Atlas.
First, the software does not write copy in the sense that you or I might write a sales letter, ad, landing page or brochure. It cannot do what we copywriters do — yet.
Atlas explained that the Persado algorithm is limited to creating persuasive sentences with a maximum length of 600 characters.
So far, Persado is mostly used to write email subject lines, Facebook ads, text messaging for mobile marketing and short-form landing pages.
“Persado solves a mathematical word puzzle to figure out the best sentence,” says Atlas. “It automates the creation of small sentences optimized for persuasion in digital marketing that drives action.”
Atlas calls it “algorithmic copywriting.” He says that key elements involve “experimental design,” “natural language processing” and “semantic neighborhoods.”
Close, But not Exact
Persado is not even close to true artificial intelligence (AI), in that it cannot think like a human copywriter or feel emotion.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.