How to Hire an AI Marketing Firm
The Ultimate Guide for CMOS to hiring an AI/ML Savvy Marketing & PR Firm
Artificial intelligence has transformed how businesses market, advertise and produce content.
A recent commercialization wave of artificial intelligence software has led to a surge of new investments in natural language processing and large language models.
Today, companies are leveraging AI and ML tools for content creation, advertisement art generation, and email marketing automation.
As more businesses engage in digital transformation, the demand for investment in artificial intelligence resources continues to increase.
Most executives are not yet thinking in terms of AI vs. traditional marketing agencies, but they should be. Here’s why.
The sophisticated enterprise buyer is planning for the future of business. You may be thinking, “I want an AI-enabled marketing agency!” This article is for you.
Buyer Beware: protect your marketing dollars and CMO from being lured in with fake promises of artificial intelligence capabilities.
AI marketing agencies are popping up on Google largely as a keyword exercise before the start of the gold rush in this domain.
Similar to the cryptocurrency wave of influencer marketing scams and fraud, digital marketing agencies are now cashing in on the allure of marketing buzzwords, without having the substance or experience to back up the claims.
There are some digital marketing agencies that claim to specialize in artificial intelligence (AI) marketing that know nothing about AI.
If you don’t know what questions to ask when evaluating an AI marketing agency, you risk making the wrong choice.
In The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an AI Marketing Agency for your business, you will learn:
- The risks of deploying AI business automation
- How to Choose an AI Marketing Consulting Firm
- The Benefits of Hiring an AI Marketing Agency vs. the DIY route
- How to Know if an AI Marketing Agency is Right for Your Business
- What Services AI Marketing Agencies Offer
- The pros and cons of generative technology
- How to avoid creative disputes with your agency when deploying generative AI tools
- A look at how agencies are utilizing AI for client campaigns
AI MARKETING AGENCY DEFINITION
What is AI Marketing?
AI marketing is not just using what an AI tool spits out.
AI marketing combines traditional creative marketing principles with generative technology to aid your business in digital transformation.
AI marketing tools should complement your marketing efforts, not replace them. Every tool provides different outputs depending on the training input. Additionally, this is why it is also difficult to answer the question, what is the best AI tool? The answer is highly subjective and based on individual generative preference. That is akin to asking, who is the best artist?
The only way to assess the best AI tool is to access all of them, which is a perk our clients have when they hire our agency. We have invested in AI marketing tools so you don’t have to.
Emerging AI generative content creation and art tools will soon reach mass adoption. In the future, generative tools will fundamentally transform the future of the creative class.
From improving content optimization to writing blog introductions, call to actions, meta descriptions, definitions and more, AI can help with the mundane part of content creation that could benefit from automation.
What is an AI marketing agency, anyway?
A digitally-savvy AI Marketing agency embraces automation tools and artificial intelligence software for streamlined digital marketing support and solutions. How does an AI marketing agency differ from a traditional marketing agency? An AI-first agency will leverage generative tools for creative output when developing a campaign strategy for your business.
Conventional marketing firms do not deploy AI solutions, leading to higher costs for talent, ideation and output. AI Marketing agencies are staffed with prompt engineers and automation specialists. The core set of capabilities vastly differs from traditional marketing agencies.
AI marketing agencies utilize machine learning to assist with:
- Social media content moderation
- Image recognition & detection
- Data analysis & automation for reviews
- Data classification & segmentation
- Hyper personalized shopping recommendations in e-commerce
What is the goal of AI marketing?
AI Marketing should do two things: save your business time, money, or both.
Through the process of generative output, an agency is able to better assess your creative hopes and dreams through the application of artificial intelligence.
This doesn’t mean you should automatically use what the AI creates, but it does mean that AI can facilitate the process of interactive brainstorming and branding in a way that was previously not possible.
The branding process was traditionally one-sided and gated. Generative artificial intelligence opens up tremendous opportunities to give clients more creative freedom to see their concepts turned into reality.
Not everyone is an artist; but now everyone has access to art. That is exciting.
How do you evaluate an AI marketing agency?
How large is your stack? My stack is bigger than your stack.
When you are evaluating your current marketing agencies capabilities on AI, you want to know the following:
- What AI marketing tools do you use?
- How much do you modify the output?
- Is the input created by you or pulled from third-party sources?
- What is the cost of the AI tools and how much will it increase my monthly retainer to leverage this advanced AI technology?
- If we part ways, who owns the output of the AI-generated content?
- Will I still have access to the AI software if we stop working together?
- What additional tools are necessary for maximum impact? (ex. image upscaling tools)
- Do you have your own in-house AI-software as an agency?
- What will the approval process look like in terms of output and generations?
- How much time does it take for you to create one usable AI image and how much time will that take away from other PR/ Marketing initiatives you are working on?
What services do AI marketing agencies offer?
Currently, AI marketing agencies like Ruby Media Group can help clients with:
- Generative AI output for content marketing campaigns
- AI for meta descriptions and blog post titles
- AI for call-to-action creation at the end of blog posts
- Artificial intelligence art generation for blog post header images
- AI B2B marketing strategy development
- AI marketing recommended campaign tactics
We could certainly use AI for far more than the list above, but we choose not to. Why? Because despite the advancements in technology, we still believe in writing our own copy. Over using AI technology can have devastating impacts on your Google search results. The technology is extremely powerful in that it can either really help you or hurt you when it comes to your digital assets and search engine rankings.
Google is not a fan of AI-generated content either and they aren’t shy about issuing warnings against it. However, in a recent podcast, John Mueller encouraged people to experiment with generative AI for decorative purposes when it comes to content optimization and blogging.
READ: Google on the use of AI images
TL; DR: AI should never be used to produce full articles; it should only be used as a generative content assistant.
When you work with an AI company, you have to know how far they are willing to go with it. Think of a painter. Are they using a large brush or the smallest brush with fine strokes and a splash of paint?
Will they write full blog posts with it or use it sparingly for meta tags and headline generation? Where do they fall on the application and usage scale?
Remember, a skilled practitioner is one who knows how to use the tools and when. They understand these are powerful weapons and should not be used in every use case.
Essentially, AI is akin to a powerful machine gun. If you don’t understand how the technology is being leveraged in your content marketing campaign by an agency of record, it can lead to serious downstream impacts on marketing performance.
Short-term thinking can have long-term consequences.
Practitioners will create a new wave of commercialization in artificial intelligence, which will expand far beyond the current AI-generative tools that exist.
In the future, you will see AI consulting companies offer:
- Data labeling as a service
- Test and evaluation as a service
- Model monitoring as a service
- Data cleaning as a service
- No-code AI SaaS
Over the past year, hundreds of companies have started to incorporate fine-tuned AI product offerings into their service. Some companies may have inadvertently misled consumers to believe they trained a custom model, when in reality, they are sending an API call to something that is readily available for anyone to use with API access.
Initially, the only barrier to enter the generative AI market was obtaining access to the API or GPT-3.
However, creating a product or service that solely relies on OpenAI can pose serious reliability issues if access is revoked.
How to choose the right AI Marketing consulting firm for your business
Artificial intelligence service provider evaluation 101
Hiring an AI-marketing consulting agency: what you need to know
AI consulting agencies use artificial intelligence to help you make better business decisions based on data.
When you hire an agency for AI marketing consulting services, they will optimize your current B2B marketing & PR strategy to determine if there is a faster way to achieve outpaced financial results by leveraging AI and machine learning.
Their skillset should include a baseline understanding of natural language processing, predictive analysis and data automation.
Before hiring an AI marketing agency, consider the following:
- What core services does the agency offer?
- What is the agency’s specialty?
- What are the agency’s core competencies?
- What is the agency’s track record with experimental technology?
- What is the agencies experience level in machine learning?
- What is their success rate?
- What is their pricing structure? What is an add on. vs what is included?
Define marketing objectives and business use case
It is important to have a clear understanding of your organization’s marketing objectives before engaging an agency.
Why do you want to leverage AI for your business?
What problem are you trying to solve?
This will help ensure that the agency you ultimately choose is a good fit for your needs.
Researching AI marketing agencies
There are a number of ways to research AI marketing agencies, including AI-based search engines, social media platforms, conference speakers and industry specific podcasts.
- Does the agency actively participate in industry discussions?
- How often do they blog about AI and ML?
- What type of questions do they tweet about AI?
- Do they enjoy discovering new AI tools?
- Does the agency have a proven track record of beta testing and being known as an early adopter?
Asking for recommendations from trusted colleagues or business partners is challenging because the space is so new. Instead, you may want to ask for recommendations from VC’s, investors, data scientists, product managers and CMOs who are active in the digital marketing and machine learning forums. Someone who is passionate about AI in Marketing can be found in the openAI playground testing new features or deep on Reddit threads discussing image upscaling tools and techniques.
How to choose an artificial intelligence service provider
The agency must be open to ever-changing strategies and evolving technology implementation.
At Ruby Media Group, we know the importance of AI in the context of your larger digital marketing goals. Fundamentally, the agency must be comfortable with experimentation, implementation, and novel approaches. You want to work with someone who is nimble and agile. Most importantly, the person needs to be more in love with the business results than the methodology or process to get there. What does this mean?
Their love for AI can’t cloud their consulting judgment when it comes to campaign performance. If the cost to implement AI is 100x the current marketing budget, the consultant must be willing to make recommendations that fit your budget as well as your business use case.
Novel technology is great; but sometimes, the time it takes to learn the technology can take away from the time that is necessary to grow your business.
A cost-benefit analysis must be conducted to make sure the output will be 10x the input of time and financial resources.
WATCH: THE FUTURE OF AI IN MARKETING
Hiring an AI Marketing Company: what to look out for and avoid
How do I hire the right AI marketing agency?
When evaluating an AI-marketing agency, you are bound to encounter several problems.
Here are some of the problem’s founders may have when evaluating ML/AI- powered agencies:
Bait and switch tactics.
AI-powered marketing is not snake oil. The people deploying the application of the technology can, however, sell snake oil to unsophisticated buyers. In the world of AI software, snake oil practices are all too common. For example, you buy an AI tool and the output is great, but a few months later, it deteriorates. Why?
Because the developer changed the underlying model. They are no longer using tier-1 DaVinci and have instead used the base model of OpenAI. A non-sophisticated buyer will not know the difference and will instead be left wondering why the output that was once so good is now terrible. This is where a trained AI marketing agency can help decipher what is going on behind the scenes.
Time is money.
AI marketing tools promise the allure of self-serve marketing. It sounds great, but in reality, it works best if you are plugging it into an existing strategic framework. Without a framework, you could literally burn hours testing concepts. Ideally, an AI marketing agency should be aligned with your brand on strategy.
Putting AI technology into practice requires extensive resources beyond the cost of the toolset.
If a tool is $250 per month, but the time it takes to learn the tool costs $10k per month, this must be accounted for in the scope of work. This is where an agency has a substantial advantage vs. in house talent because you are not paying for their onboarding. They are already skilled and equipped with how to leverage the tools for maximum output.
Pro Tip: Your AI marketing budget should include the cost of ML software implementation onboarding and training.
The cost of the AI tool is often misleading because it does not account for the time it takes to learn the tool.
According to a recent study conducted by Capterra, the time to implement AI or ML technology directly increases with company size.
- “Among marketers working at companies with one to 100 employees, 36% say it takes six months to less than twelve months to implement AI compared to 53% among those working at companies with over 5,000 employees.”
- “69% of marketers said it took their company 6+ months to implement AI or ML technology.”
- “35% of marketers cite risk and data management issues as top challenges of using the technology.”
Companies need to invest significant time to onboard new software and get AI tools off the ground in internal marketing departments.
- “44% of companies said it took 6-12 months to implement AI and ML tools.”
- “22% said it took about 1-2 years to implement. The time taken to implement also increases with the company size.”
- “57% of marketers said it took less than six months for their staff to learn to use the tools. About 30% said it took 6-12 months to learn to use them.”
Should I hire a marketing agency that specializes in machine learning and artificial intelligence?
The answer to this question depends on your business use case. That being said, you want to make sure you hire an agency that has deep industry experience. You also want to ensure you have the funding to make the engagement a success.
For example, the time it takes to run plagiarism checks against an AI-writing tool takes longer than the time it takes to write copy from scratch. These risks must be carefully considered.
AI requires significantly more time than traditional human writing because of the time it takes to edit and cross check the output. I cannot emphasize this point enough that sometimes, it is easier to not use an AI tool at all.
In addition to the cost of hiring a marketing agency, AI marketing investments include:
- The cost for the initial deployment
- Onboarding and implementation
- Software cost
Every founder should think about the total cost of the AI/ML deployment beyond the cost for the toolset. Additionally, there are long-term effects of implementing a B2B Artificial intelligence marketing strategy.
If you are creating your own in-house model, that data has to be routinely trained and cleaned to be up to date. If you are using a dataset pulled from a third-party, the likelihood the data is outdated is extremely high.
This isn’t conjecture; it is already happening.
The agency believes generative technology just came out last week. They are already behind.
Pay close attention to the practitioners who are just discovering AI writing tools this week vs the ones who have been using them for the past two years. That alone should tell you all you need to know about the people who actually work in the space vs. the ones who are way behind.
We have been covering AI for the past two years, so it is strange that the media seems to think AI writing tools just came out this week after the Jarvis funding announcement ran in the press. Furthermore, the landscape is complex, with new AI startups getting funded daily.
SEMrush is not the name of a category; it is a tool in a category of rank tracking and search engine optimization tools. The same is true for AI copywriting tools. Also play close attention to the acquisition rate of these tools. The agencies who acquire these tools at the start will have a significant competitive advantage.
How to effectively work with an AI marketing agency
After you have chosen an AI-marketing agency, you must know how to properly work with them to get the most out of your investment.
Two things matter the most: friction and momentum.
Friction kills momentum. Less friction; more momentum. More friction; less momentum.
AI has value when deployed correctly. Here’s how to extract the most of the new technology for your business.
There is an art and science to prompt engineering in art and copy.
It’s not as simple as it looks.
AI marketers rarely use anything produced on the first generative output. An unskilled practitioner will use the first run the AI generates. While this may seem more cost effective, it will be more expensive in the long run when you inevitably get sued for plagiarism.
Do not push for creative asks that are unrealistic.
The plug-and-play dream of AI tools are far from the reality of it, and there is nothing more frustrating than someone saying, “I asked for a picture that represents corporate diversity,” why does the Midjourney picture show the opposite? The agency can keep re rendering the output, but it has nothing to do with the underlying training data.
Understand the limitations of AI.
Yes, this includes the limitations of what you ask for in a creative brief. Simply put, we are not magicians. We can’t change the data a model was trained on, and we don’t have the surgical precision to paint in the exact picture you want if the model was trained on something else. In that use case, traditional marketing is a better fit.
Who gets access to the AI software?
When you first hear that your marketing agency is experimenting with MidJourney for your content marketing campaign, it sounds exciting. Everyone wants in and a chance to create new AI images. But if the subscription is linked to the agency’s account, that won’t happen. Each subscription is linked to someone’s Discord server, and people pay per seat. Reign in the asks unless you want to pay for a corporate account or for multiple seats. Want the agency to create a custom Discover server for your whole team? Yes, that will cost more. Don’t ask the agency to train your internal team on the tools unless you are prepared to pay for the training time.
The agency takes pride in their carefully curated AI-tech stack.
Prior to a discovery call, our agency will request detailed information about your organization’s marketing objectives. We can then evaluate the right AI tools for your campaign. No two clients are the same, and we build a custom stack of tools for every client we work with depending on their use case. This is why the spray and pray approach of “Just use Jarvis for everything!” is terrible advice.
Jarvis is the name of one tool; not an entire category. That is akin to stating that the social media vertical has only one player; Meta. Early on it did, but that quickly turned to multimodal and new generative options.
Art is highly subjective.
Ask your agency to create images with specific prompts, but don’t be unhappy if you hate what they come up with. What you love, someone else hates. When the agency loves, you could hate. Getting to a middle ground where you are both happy takes hard work. This exercise is not for the faint of heart. This is deep, emotionally draining work. Marketers are not artists in the true sense of the word, so strategic marketers will find this process filled with friction and not happy.
Marketers are creatives; they like to create with autonomy and little client intervention.
However, AI art changes the paradigm. It is not as simple as presenting new ads to a client and getting a “that was great.” More often than not, the client will probably hate the first few rounds, which is tough to swallow.
- What engine do you like best?
- What style of art?
- What prompts help you get there?
This discovery process takes a lot of time and billable hours. I repeat: it is not as simple as saying draw me a picture and a wizard goes to work. In fact, AI art can hurt an agency relationship if the expectations are not set properly.
A client can walk away wondering; why did I hire them? That image was awful! I thought they understood me, I guess not. Do not despair. It takes time and effort to figure out what you both like. For this reason, I do not think AI art makes sense for every client unless there is chemistry, compatibility, and communication to work through the inevitable breakdowns that will occur during the creative generative process.
Breakdowns lead to break ups and terminations if feedback is not handled properly.
Clients want to feel heard and respected, and agencies want to be validated for their creativity. It is difficult to find a perfect match on this, and when it doesn’t occur, it results in hurt feelings, loss of motivation, and underperforming campaigns.
Don’t fall in love with a concept, and most importantly, only present your best work.
A great way to discern an amateur AI marketer from a seasoned one is to look at their portfolio. Do they present hundreds of images or ten? A true artist or marketer cuts down what they present. An amateur one wants to wow you with hundreds of images – this is to say “look at me” more than it has anything to do with looking at you. Their portfolio is an exercise of intellectual narcissism. That in itself will show you they are not a good fit.
See if you are attracted to the vibe of their art. Does it feel dark and cold? Or warm and welcoming? Cutting-edge and innovative? Or dark triad vibes? How does their art make you feel? Fundamentally, choosing a marketing agency is about chemistry and compatibility. Listen to how you feel when you look at their work and don’t ignore it. The right marketing puts people in the right funnel. The same is true when it comes to AI-generated art.
Finally, when hiring an AI marketing agency for your business, make sure the agency is well versed with The AI Bill of Rights and FTC guidelines on the responsible use of AI. Because the technology is so new, it is important to make sure you are not taking unnecessary risks that could cost your business legal issues down the line.
What is your risk tolerance?
Are you risk averse? Your risk tolerance should align with the agency you hire when deploying and leveraging new technology for your business. For example, if you are using AI to make automated business decisions, that has to be stated to your customers. If your AI marketing agency is not telling you that, that is a cause for concern.
Tools in isolation do not help you understand the larger implications of the technology. This is where an AI/ML consultant will help you see the 360-enterprise view. Using AI tools without understanding the legal, financial, and security implications is a mistake.
The technology is powerful and can be used as a weapon of creativity or destruction.
The stakes are significantly higher than with deploying traditional marketing tactics, largely because it is being developed in real time, and the technology has outpaced the laws that govern it.
Work with an AI marketing agency that adheres to the ethical usage of AI. These decisions transcend from every tool they choose, to the recommendations they make for updating privacy policies, data policies and adherence to national guidelines.
What factors should be considered when evaluating an AI marketing agency?
Technological advancements in AI have created unlimited generative options for creative outcomes.
At Ruby Media Group, we believe in informed consent when it comes to the use and application of AI Marketing tools. This means that you have freedom to opt in and opt out to the AI tools we use as a marketing agency.
As a legal-first PR agency, we pride ourselves in making calculated and cautious strategic decisions on behalf of our clients. There is a risk and reward to the use of experimental AI technology in your marketing campaign. If an agency uses these tools on your behalf without you being fully aware, you could run into serious legal and copyright issues down the line.
Ultimately, you are in the driver’s seat of what constitutes value, which is why it is important for you to know how much time it takes to use the technology. Despite the promise of efficiency, AI tools are often plagued with bugs, down time, server errors, and renders that are not usable. This means your agency will have to spend more time with customer support (or a bot) and troubleshooting to get it right while AI is still in the experimental stage.
Experimentation comes with a cost. Are you prepared to pay for it?
Do you approve that time or do you want your agencies time spent on more traditional PR and marketing initiatives?
Ethical AI means including you in this decision-making process and empowering you to make decisions about how and where your time is spent on deliverables and outcomes.
There is a steep learning curve when it comes to AI marketing tools, and no two tools are the same. Despite marketing claims saying ‘it’s as easy as a click of a button’, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In the end, someone will pay for the learning curve in either time or money.
Decide where you want to allocate your resources for the highest return. Do you want your team trained in-house or do you prefer to work with an agency who is already up to speed?
These are the types of conversations you should be having with your agency. If you aren’t, you won’t know where your money (and their time) is going and that can lead to fatal and devastating outcomes.
AI ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
What are the ethical concerns of leveraging AI tools for business?
There are many ethical concerns with the use of AI in marketing.
Because AI is still so new, it is hard to give you a definitive checklist on what the ultimate AI marketing agency should offer. Instead, this article will serve as a framework as to the larger questions you should be considering when you begin your journey of assistive and generative technology. These issues aren’t black and white. There is a grey zone that lies in the center of artificial intelligence, because ultimately, many of these questions have to do with your ethics.
Do your ethics align with the agency’s ethics?
Ultimately, the decision to utilize AI for business decisions will become a polarizing one. There are brand activists who allege that generative AI is essentially stealing from artists and writers, whereas others say that AI is merely assistive and helpful for content optimization.
Your decision to use AI is not one to be taken lightly. It can include a myriad of potential cancel culture issues for your brand as well as legal and financial issues if you do not properly disclose your usage of the technology.
Where this gets particularly troublesome is if you hire a marketing agency who does not disclose their use of AI on your behalf. Depending on how your contract is structure, the liability will ultimately fall back on you. This is why you need to start having this conversation now, before it’s too late.
The ethics of AI-generated output.
What are some ethical concerns around the application of artificial intelligence in marketing?
It is important to understand where you draw the line when it comes to generative output. For example, some marketers utilize machine learning and neural networks to create output that unfortunately rips off the styles and themes of other artist works. We are not okay with that. Are you? You should know where you stand before asking a marketer to create AI art for you. If not, you run the risk of legal issues down the line.
If you type the most generic phrase possible into a prompt such as, “A dog with a red ball,” then the AI will generate an image based on what it learned by scanning 20 billion mostly rights-protected images. If this poses legal challenges, you will have to avoid AI image generation altogether. But remember, this is the very early stage of generative output. We are not that far away from new models being trained on material that artists and authors have opted into and given consent for.
AI paraphraser tools otherwise known back in the day as article spinners scrape the web for content written by other authors. This can lead to serious plagiarism implications and is ethically questionable. You should know if your agency is doing this. If you don’t, you can quickly find yourself hit with a cease and desist after the agency is long gone simply because they never told you they were using AI article rewriter tools.
What are some issues that may emerge in the future pertaining to AI generated copy and images?
The ethical issue of consent to training data and copyright. An emerging area that will become critical in the near future is the ability for artists and writers to opt out of being used in training data for AI. The emergence of a new class of AI-opt out tools which be just as important as the creation of the AI tools.
Attorney Sharon Torek, Founder of Legal and Creative, urges creators to maintain a low risk profile when it comes to early adoption.
“Copyright law has not yet caught up with AI and the legal implications of using AI to be a low risk IP strategy,” said Torek.
What legal rights do you have around natural language-generated content?
If you have retained a content marketing agency to generate AI content for a B2B content marketing strategy, make sure the following has been outlined:
- Who owns the content?
- Who owns the login access to the AI content marketing tools? For example, if you want total control, you may prefer purchasing your own SaaS tech stack instead of using access through a third-party agency.
Content creators have an ethical responsibility for the content they generate for clients. If AI marketing tools are used, clients must know what tools are being used to avoid legal surprises.
Ethics in AI and the rise of copycat content
Neural networks, AI plagiarism, and the rise of agency lawsuits
AI-generated content from GPT-3 can include plagiarized content that is directly lifted from other websites. Using this content without rewriting it can potentially tank your hard-earned search engine rankings.
“Most of the AI content writers who use the GPT-3 playground are text spinners and duplicating content. They are diluting the value of already published content on the Internet because GPT-3 is trained on the entire corpus of Internet data. If you are able to create a smart AI semantic layer between a user’s original research that is the best use case. This strategy will separate deep research-based AI-assisted content from article spinning.” -Harish Kumar, Founder of CrawlQ.
READ: Google Says AI Generated Content Is Against Guidelines
If a marketing agency uses an AI tool and fails to run it through a plagiarism checker, and the copycat content results in a lawsuit, who is responsible: your company or the agency?
When AI gets it wrong, who is held liable?
Legal frameworks lagging on AI generated content
Legislation has lagged around the usage of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Unfortunately, that puts you as the consumer at risk. While growth and regulation teams scramble to find a solution, several options are on the table, including royalties to artists, opting in to training data or enabling artists to opt-out of their name being used on prompts for generative design creation.
Before you hire an agency to use an AI tool for your business, make sure you know what model was used and if consent was granted to avoid future copyright issues.
Ask: Was consent granted for the underlying data that was used to train the model?
Let’s assume the answer is no. This not only opens up the client to possible legal issues, it also opens up the agency to legal issues if they are using the tools to create output in marketing campaigns for clients. For this reason, we are extremely careful with what we generate using AI tools right now. For example, we steer clear of creating any output that shows a human face or using styles that are trained on other artists work. In terms of AI writing tools, although our agency owns these tools, we don’t use any of them for the actual writing process. We only use them to help generate H2 tags, meta descriptions or for keyword optimization. It is important to ask an agency where they stand on this before hiring them.
One of the biggest issues with using AI writing tools in marketing is that you could be lifting other writers work verbatim without realizing it. These writers did not consent to having their work trained- in the same way artists didn’t either.
As a journalist, I am starting to notice this more and more – when I put in keywords on topics I cover- the output starts spitting out work that feels extremely similar to my own article. That is never a good feeling and makes someone wonder how they can opt out of this experiment in real time. To find out if you have been included in training data for recent AI models, check out haveibeentrained
Remember, it is not how many tools you have or the luxury name of the tool. A tool is useless if you don’t know how to use it. What good is a Lamborghini that sits in your driveway if you can’t drive stick?
Similarly, what good is the Rolls Royce of AI tools if it is too complex for an agency to use? I repeat: does the agency actually know how to use the tools they own? Some agencies own tools and bill clients for tools monthly that they have virtually no clue how to operate. This is a serious problem. They don’t know how to use it. You don’t know what you are paying for. But you feel good that you are paying for *something* because the word AI is attached to it.
Finally, someone who is skilled with AI writing tools will know how to evaluate the tools for quality output. They will also know the right questions to ask when evaluating software on your behalf. Many agencies buy the highest price tool and believe that high price means best output. Without the high cost of a tool, they truly wouldn’t know the difference. A skilled AI marketing professional will instantly be able to tell you the difference, regardless of the price point.
Someone who buys AI tools like we do day in and day out can tell you what output is junk vs. output that is gold. We can spot a bait and switch a mile away when it comes to garbage GPT-3 output vs. DaVinci. We can tell you what image is generated by Stable Diffusion vs. upscaled by Midjourney. The only way we know the difference is because we invest heavily in the tools and we use the tools we buy.
Not every tool will be a winner; but our belief is that we are training by learning each tool through the acquisition of each new tool that comes to market. Again, this is a core difference between an agency that adds AI/ML marketing as a bolt on service vs. an agency that is actually interested in evolving the technology or launching an in-house tool of their own that is trained on successful data.
That brings me to another important point.
An agency that is invested in the AI landscape will eventually want to launch their own AI content marketing tool. Make sure you know if your data will be used to train a model that the agency develops later on. This should be mentioned and outlined in the contract.
Agency owners have to exercise due diligence and caution with the AI marketing vendors and tools they select. Some of these tools may poach your clients and tell them that the tools will replace the agency.
Simply put; you are buying tools that are directly competing with you and want your clients as enterprise customers for sales leads. Pay close attention to the reputation of the SaaS you purchase and also look at the jurisdiction. If a problem does arrive, you will want to ensure it is in a geographic area that you can litigate in should any issues occur. Look at the Twitter feeds of the founders of the AI content generator tools.
Is the founder bragging about saving their customers thousands of dollars per month with their tool? If so, they probably don’t respect agencies and it may be a good idea to look for a more collaborative partner as you assemble your software stack. This is why it is so dangerous for people to believe that there is only one big player in the AI space. Yes, there are a few big players that have the most headlines and funding, but the space is large enough for new market entrants.
Do your research and test the tools before deciding on your stack. Don’t have the time to do this? Let us do it for you. This is not an area you want to rely on PR hype of the media for because the media covering AI has virtually no clue how to use the tools they report about and furthermore many writers still believe AI will replace their job, leading to an overall bias with how their report on the generative AI market.
Finally, make sure ownership rights are clearly laid out. Is the agency the owner of the generative art/copy or are you? Do they have rights to post the images they create for your campaign and take in royalties? Be extremely clear. You won’t be happy if your AI-generated art is turned into a book one year down the line that you paid a consultant for but then learned they posted in an online art portfolio. Digital usage rights must be clearly laid out; including NFT’s and secondary sales of any assets created during the campaign on your behalf.
AI MARKETING AGENCY CHECKLIST (BONUS!)
Thinking about hiring an AI marketing agency? Ask these questions first.
Does the agency excel in prompt engineering and AI art generation, or are they masters at GPT-3 fine tuning and content generation?
- What is your level of domain expertise?
- Do you specialize in a specific niche within AI?
- Does the agency have AI expertise in public policy initiatives, or are they better suited for the private sector?
- Does the agency use the tools they promote?
- What does the agencies affiliate structure look like with the tools they suggest?
- How much time does the agency spend on AI and ML training and certification?
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Did you enjoy this article? You may enjoy our next article in a 3-part series on AI titled:
Part 1: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and The Future of Marketing
Part 2: How AI is Transforming Marketing and PR
Part 3: AI Marketing Agency Guide for CMOs
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
KRIS RUBY is an artificial intelligence marketing consultant and the founder of Ruby Media Group, a digital-first social media marketing agency.
She frequently offers insights on artificial intelligence in marketing on podcasts, television, radio and industry conferences.
Ms. Ruby is an expert on AI tools for writing and content marketing campaigns. She owns more than 100 tools and loves testing out new software. Have a new AI tool she should know about? Drop her a line.
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