Surpassing TikTok, the viral video app that amassed 100 million users in 9 months, ChatGPT gained the same number of users in record-breaking time – 8 weeks to be exact.

But what is ChatGPT? What is behind its meteoric rise? More importantly, what does it mean for copywriters and content marketers in general?


What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot developed by OpenAI, a San Francisco-based AI research company. When prompted, the model can generate different types of written text such as emails, poetry, marketing copy, and even code in natural language.

The chatbot is currently available to try for free. However, as its popularity has skyrocketed, so has the demand on its systems. Open AI’s solution? ChatGPT Plus, uninterrupted access and lightning-fast responses even during peak times for $20 a month. This subscription-based service is currently only available in the US, but its creators have announced plans to invite people from its waitlist to sign up in the coming weeks.


What is the technology behind ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is powered by Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3, a language learning model trained to understand how words are used in natural language. The AI model generates human-like responses by predicting what word comes next in a sentence.

In addition to reading everything on the internet until 2021, ChatGPT received Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback (RLHF) training. As a result, it goes beyond predicting words to understanding what we expect when we ask a question. That’s why it can ask follow-up questions, reject inappropriate requests, and keep track of a conversation.


What are its limitations?

While ChatGPT is a welcome upgrade from the chatbots we’re used to, it still has its shortcomings.

ChatGPT can write efficiently, but not accurately. It can misunderstand, ignore, or mix up prompts, and it can give irrelevant answers.

It is also capable of AI hallucination (ie, when AI makes up answers that are very convincing). This is because it doesn’t actually understand what it’s saying, it just does what it was trained to do, which is process text from billions of examples and put words together in a way that makes sense statistically.

As this chatbot was trained using data scraped from the internet until 2021, it has human biases and limited knowledge of current affairs. Additionally, its responses are sensitive to the quality and phrasing of prompts.

Although its answers can be helpful, ChatGPT is not a search engine. Search engines like Google crawl the internet and rank web pages. However, this tool is limited to the data it has been fed. It also lacks the systems search engines have in place for evaluating the quality and relevance of information.


What does the introduction of ChatGPT mean for copywriters?

With its ability to churn out volumes of text quickly, ChatGPT can make content planning and writing processes more efficient. However, the bot’s inaccuracy and inability to provide sources for its responses make it unsuitable for research purposes.

It’s also important to keep in mind that ChatGPT doesn’t have anything original or creative to offer. Because it simply spins the data it was trained on, you’ll always be at risk from producing plagiarised text.

Without any tweaks, the chatbot generates simple, formulaic responses. While there isn’t much personality, insight, or expertise to its writing, it can be given direction or sample copy to mimic. The examples generated can then be checked, edited, or used for creative inspiration.


Why we don’t think ChatGPT will ever replace real-life copywriters

Every decision made by a skilled copywriter is made with the target audience in mind. The text generated by ChatGPT, however, is simply the result of prediction.

Great copy builds a compelling argument, generates interest, and concludes with a call to action. ChatGPT can’t do this. It puts words together, often losing the gist, weaving in inaccuracies, and making unnecessary repetitions.

Copywriters use their expertise to craft unique value propositions that spark action. While ChatGPT can certainly replicate tone and style, it can’t create a brand voice or make use of nuanced emotion or humour.

The verdict: ChatGPT is a very powerful copycat, not a copywriter. It might be great at mimicking human language, but it definitely isn’t a replacement for human expertise.


What does ChatGPT mean for content marketing?

While text generated for personal use might not be an issue, text intended for commercial purposes is a completely different story. There may be legal issues we have yet to understand and mitigate.

We know the technology powering ChatGPT was fed vast amounts of copyrighted works and private data. However, the legal implications of this violation of privacy and intellectual property rights have yet to be addressed.


Content publishers must tread with caution

It’s tempting to view ChatGPT as a faster and cheaper way to spin lots of content. The allure is understandable, but content publishers are urged to proceed with caution where AI is concerned.

The chatbot can’t and shouldn’t be relied on as a tool for creating ready-to-publish copy. Its current limitations can spread misinformation, violate Google’s latest policy on AI-generated content, and result in low-quality site-wide signals, according to their helpful content system.

Publishing misleading and unhelpful content can cause harm, not only from a legal and ethical standpoint but from a marketing perspective too; your reputation, engagement, and search engine rankings will be hanging in the balance if you try to take too many shortcuts.


Final thoughts

We can’t ignore that this technology has immense potential, but ChatGPT can’t be relied on to create anything revolutionary for clients (yet).

We think OpenAI Chief Executive Sam Altman summed up the current state of play perfectly in a tweet he shared shortly after ChatGPT’s release:

ChatGPT is incredibly limited but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness. It is a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now.

That said, it’s an interesting time to be a copywriter or a content creator. If ChatGPT can play a small but time-saving role in developing beautifully written text that serves a clear marketing purpose, let’s embrace it for what it is and what it might become!