Unpacking the AI Revolution in Marketing: Cheap Thrills or Sustainable Growth?

Thanks to the increased sophistication of artificial intelligence (AI) tools now available in marketing, it’s easier than ever to write copy, generate content, and most importantly for brands, to optimize search engines using AI. This may be good news for smaller brands who don’t have the budget to compete against deeper pocketed-brands in the ever expensive SEO race, but is it good news for the larger public and marketers in general? If using AI to gamify the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) system is the business equivalent of eating instant ramen- cheap, easy, and good for consumers’ short-term attention span, what does this mean for the long-term health, growth, and results?

In order to understand how AI can manipulate search engines, let’s explore how Google and other search engines use AI in search. When people talk about search engine algorithms, they’re talking about how search results are being delivered and how easily findable they are. However, Google and other search engines are based on an interconnected series of web-powered signals that powers where these search engine results are appearing, how they’re appearing, and what type of search results are appearing (source: Marketing AI Institute).

So how are people utilizing AI to game SEO  and SEM (Search Engine Marketing)? With AI, search engines utilizing LLMs (Language Learning Models) could “dynamically adjust the richness and type of information provided based on multiple variables such as query specifics, user profile, location, and time. Bad actors can “work the system” by creating fake news or fake data and arranging it in such a way that the search engine’s LLM will think it’s authentic enough to prime the search results in a desirable way for the short term (e.g. first page Google search results.) However, when these fake news and/or fake data aren’t corroborated, the LLM will realize that they aren’t legitimate and cease showing them in the search results. 

This essentially means the potential to game consumers’ short attention span is higher than ever with the advent of AI and necessitates the need for brands and public relations professionals to firmly hold and manage their digital reputation. Editors will still need to fact check sources before letting AI instant publish, and brands will need to integrate branded keywords into other credible sources like whitepapers, research papers, and infographics in order to maintain a high level of trust with search engines.

Essentially the end lesson is this: while it may be tempting for marketers to produce fast food-like digital marketing results using AI for search engines, in the long term to retain trust, they’ll need to do the hard work of proving credibility with a lengthy digital footprint, integrated marketing communications, and third party approval (rankings, awards, back linking.)

Written by Courtney L.