As more and more of our lives become automated, we’ve become accustomed to machines performing the jobs people once did: preparing food, teaching classes, even driving cars. Now comes news that robots are replacing journalists. The story got me thinking: Could robots soon displace B2B marketing writers?
In a news video, the Washington Post reports on a startup called Narrative Science that has developed algorithms to write certain types of news stories. The software monitors news feeds for specific types of data, then takes this information and formats it according to pre-built templates. The machine then spits out a news article that’s perfectly readable and accurate, without any intervention from a living, breathing writer.
Turns out that this kind of “reporting by robots” is particularly effective for certain kinds of writing, such as reporting on sports. The average sports article is largely a compilation of scores, averages, and statistics, the sort of rote reportage that a robot could handle quite easily. In fact, according to the Post’s video, a number of news outlets are already using algorithmic writing to report on Little League and high school sports activities.
Are there aspects of technical marketing writing that could be out-sourced to robots? At first, it seemed to me that algorithms could never replace flesh-and-blood writers for the kind of densely technical marketing writing that we provide clients here at McBru.
But then I thought of fact sheets, product briefs, backgrounders—all content that’s heavy on templates and facts from online sources.
Yeah, robots could probably write those.
And I can see how having algorithms that go to the Web and gather all the information for a white paper could be a real time-saver, even if a real human ends up compiling and writing the final product.
It seems unlikely that robotic writing services will soon replace skilled technical and marketing writers for case studies, white papers, solution briefs and other key collateral and marketing pieces. But I can see how having a robot handy to mechanize and structure initial research might be a valuable option for a busy human writer.
What aspects of your content strategy would you consider outsourcing to an algorithm?