Evolving Ethics Around Generative AI

Mary Ann


October 16, 2023

As I’m sure you’re well aware, the expanding role of generative AI in the marketing world has been the subject of endless discussion all this year. While there has been plenty of talk about new tools and services that AI can provide at nearly every stage of the marketing process, there is a growing conversation about the ethical considerations of using software to mimic or even replace traditionally human-generated creativity and strategy. AI has enormous potential to eliminate a lot of the time and cost behind marketing processes, but many are concerned about being replaced or just simply losing the ‘human element’ of many marketing functions.

So, what are the latest issues around generative AI and media marketing?


Authenticity and Trust

AI has been working behind the scenes of media marketing for years now. One of my favorite tools, Programmatic Media Buying, is AI-powered and achieves great results. But when it comes to the creation of the actual media itself, the stakes are a lot higher. Audiences from every demographic place a high value on authenticity when evaluating the marketing media they are exposed to. Even a perceived level of artificiality can have a dramatic impact on how compelling or enticing a given ad is received.  Nothing will stop a consumer’s progress along the buying journey as quickly as losing their trust in the seller, which can be caused by clumsy use of generative AI in building a message.


Copyright and legal exposure

Today’s popular generative AI tools have been trained on massive image and text databases from multiple sources, including the internet. When these tools are used to create images, video, or even generate lines of code, the direct source data could be unknown, which can be problematic from a legal perspective. Reputational and financial risks are entirely possible if one brand’s messaging is based too directly on another company’s intellectual property. Without careful attention to what you produce with generative AI, there is a chance that your work will look suspiciously similar to something already being used in the marketplace, putting both you and your client in an uncomfortable position.


Job Displacement

Many copywriters, graphic designers, and even marketing strategists are concerned that they may soon find their roles changing or even becoming redundant. But the functions these roles provide still require plenty of personal human attention, and AI has already been streamlining many of their job processes. For years, marketers have been using AI-powered technologies like Grammarly to polish up text, or email systems that use AI to determine the best send times. Generative AI can be used more subtly, like using ChatGPT to craft an early draft of ad copy, a blog post, or email blast – much easier than starting with a blank page, and still requiring a lot of direct human input before the final product is sent out to audiences.


Overall, the potential risks and ethical considerations should be fully considered with the rise of generative AI, even as the laws and regulations around this technology continue to change. There are many exciting potential applications of these technologies, but balancing these new tools with consideration of risk management alongside accountability will ease concerns and limit any negative impact. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help provide further guidance on how to incorporate generative AI into your next media campaign both safely and ethically.

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