AI in Marketing: Hype vs. Reality

Published on
June 04, 2024

Episode Description:

Bold claims have been made about AI revolutionising how marketing is done, potentially eliminating millions of marketing jobs worldwide. As we approach mid-2024, David Lawrence and James Lawrence delve into the impact of AI on the Australian marketing landscape. David advocates for a balanced approach, embracing new technologies with a dose of healthy skepticism. He emphasises the importance of marketers staying informed and cutting through the AI hype.

Key Takeaways:

  • AI in marketing: The current landscape and look back at 2024
  • The real impact of AI on marketing jobs
  • The role of AI  in improving the quality and scale of content creation
  • How agencies are using AI for client work in audio, video, design and creative projects
  • The future of AI in search: ChatGPT vs. Google’s Gemini

Listen now on Smarter Marketer

The definitive podcast for Australian marketers.


James Lawrence

James Lawrence

Host, Smarter Marketer
David Lawrence

About the Guest:

David Lawrence is the MD and Co-Founder of Rocket, an award-winning Australian full-service digital marketing agency. He is also the co-author of the Amazon #1 best-selling marketing book,  Smarter Marketer. David has presented at several events, including Inbound Boston, Search Marketing Summit, Mumbrella360, CEO Institute, and various seminars and in-house sessions.

Follow David on LinkedIn.


Podcast Summary: AI in Marketing: Hype vs. Reality

Co-Founder and MD of Rocket Agency, David Lawrence, joins host James Lawrence to discuss the real impact of AI on marketing, cutting through the hype and examining its practical uses and limitations.

Recap: The Hype Around AI Until Mid-2024

When AI technologies like ChatGPT and Gemini first emerged, they caused a lot of excitement with their impressive capabilities, promising to revolutionise the industry. However, as David notes, the initial excitement has now led to some confusion. While tasks are being automated effectively, the fear (or dream) that AI would eliminate jobs hasn't come true as many expected.

He points out a key issue: there's a gap between what marketers are doing with AI and what they should be doing. Many believed AI would make humans redundant, leading some marketers to feel they're not adapting if their roles aren't affected. This isn't the case. David explains that at Rocket and among our clients, hardly any marketing roles have been eliminated because of AI. Efficiency has improved, especially in paid social, SEO, PPC, email, and creative teams, but job elimination hasn't been necessary.

Real Applications of AI in Marketing

Despite not being the job eliminator many feared, AI still plays a crucial role in numerous marketing tasks:

  • At Rocket, AI is incredibly useful in speeding up and enhancing video and audio editing. For example, the Smarter Marketer podcast benefits from AI tools that edit more efficiently now.
  • Similarly, Adobe's suite incorporates AI technologies that save designers time while ensuring high-quality outputs. Not all tools are effective though. Many new tools fall short, while reliable ones remain Adobe, Google, HubSpot, and Canva, which the team have already been using. David also highlights that at Rocket, we’ve put AI firmly in the tech stack, but the team uses and loves less than 10 or so AI products regularly. Human eyes confirm the ultimate sign-off.
  • Rocket’s creative team has also been having fun with AI to conceptualise their creative approach. It’s not something that they would actually use for a client, but just beautiful creative to show them what to expect and help them imagine the output.
  • AI is also fantastic for research, especially with content planning, writing an article, or creating marketing material for a new client in a new industry.
  • Furthermore, over the past decade, paid social work has evolved from using third-party automation tools to integrated Google Ads automation, making tasks easier. Despite automation, staff numbers at Rocket have increased, focusing on smarter, faster, and cleverer work.
  • For coding, AI might not be the best tool at the moment but it’s definitely gaining momentum. It might not be able to produce the exact code needed strategically, but it can surely address a task and produce a sufficiently effective code. The Rocket team uses it for quick short JavaScripts, for writing a tracking code, and for formulas. 

Such applications demonstrate how AI can effectively handle repetitive tasks and human capabilities. Yet, James emphasises that AI is a tool to support creative processes rather than replace them entirely. This distinction is essential for marketers to understand.

Why AI Alone Can’t Match Up to Human Output

Agencies that don’t value the contributions humans make to marketing have a compromised foresight. In fact, human brain is the real advantage - this is what will set you apart. 

While AI has more knowledge than humans, it lacks wisdom. This gap highlights the importance of human oversight. For instance, AI can generate countless headlines and meta descriptions for SEO, but it cannot replace the nuanced understanding and creative acumen that experienced marketers bring to content creation.

This in no way means that AI isn’t a super tool - David mentions that if he had to sum up AI by mid-2024, it definitely has more knowledge than any of us do. But in terms of wisdom, it’s probably less than intern’s. 

James concurs, noting that AI is excellent at producing drafts and sparking ideation. However, it falls short when the output needs to be polished, creative, and contextually perfect. Rocket’s approach brings together the best of both worlds, using AI to accelerate the initial stages of content creation while relying on human expertise to fine-tune and perfect the final output.

AI vs. Human Creativity

David adds that AI's predictive nature means it often generates average content, which is not ideal for building competitive marketing strategies. Creativity requires unique perspectives and deep human insights—qualities that AI has yet to master. Ralph Grayden, Founder of copywriting agency Antelope Media, also emphasised on the Smarter Marketer podcast, that while AI can aid in writing, it doesn't replace the need for skilled writers. In fact, their businesses have only grown in terms of employing more copywriters since AI tools like ChatGPT became prevalent. This growth indicates that AI's role is complementary rather than substitutive.

Advice for Marketers on How to Adopt AI

Marketers definitely shouldn’t dismiss AI. Here are some quick and easy things to look for in how your marketing functions day to day to stay curious and ultimately improve efficiency:

  • Look for tasks in your workflow that can become more efficient by using AI.
  • Think about what new developments in AI could impact your work.
  • Look at the big platforms you use regularly for marketing updates; you might find something new that works for your business and team.

David emphasises an important point to keep in mind for avoiding hype: you shouldn’t be worried if AI is not making your life easier by a ton or if you’re not making people redundant. Each firm’s approach is bound to be unique, and the changes will be individual. It’s still emerging technology, after all.

The Evolving Search Landscape: ChatGPT vs. Google’s Gemini

One of the most anticipated shifts in the marketing landscape is the potential impact of AI-powered search engines. Google has introduced its Gemini AI to enhance search, aiming to streamline information retrieval, and while new technologies like ChatGPT have sparked interest, the rivalry stems from the fact that they haven't significantly changed user behaviour or Google's market dominance. In yet another Smarter Marketer episode, Rand Fishkin mentioned that he found no evidence of Google’s market share falling in the US because of ChatGPT, and even in Australia, it was still driving 55% of traffic to businesses by organic, and an extra 15% if you’re using paid search (October 2023). 

People still use ‘Google’ as a verb.

Google and SEO vs. New Ways to Search

Despite claims that AI and voice search could kill SEO, Google's paid ads remain crucial. It’s the crux of their business and their main source of revenue after all. And while the way people search is changing - using TikTok and Instagram for shopping and travel recommendations, for instance - Google’s relevance is unwavering. David also emphasises that at Rocket, search through Google is still quite vital for clients. Businesses should continue to focus on proven, effective strategies while staying informed about emerging technologies.

Final Thoughts

As a marketer, it's essential to be enthusiastic about new technologies and methods, but also maintain a healthy scepticism. What works this year might not be good enough next year. Be cautious with new tools and trends, as many may not be effective. Avoid feeling inadequate if something doesn't work or adopting too many new things just because they're trendy. Use your time and resources wisely and ensure new methods are truly beneficial before implementing them for your client or business.

If you want to take your marketing to the next level, we can help you with SEO, PPC, Paid Social, Email and Creative campaigns. Get in touch!


James Lawrence: Welcome back to the Smarter Marketer podcast. I'm here today with David Lawrence.

Dave, welcome back to the pod. Hey, James, good to be here again. Very, very good. I'm not going to, you know, give you the long rambling introduction given, you know, you're a multi pod superstar by this point, a veteran of the Smarter Marketer podcast for those listening, Dave's laughing. Awkwardly. Oh, very awkwardly.

We get lots of questions around AI. The space is moving so quickly. We did a pod on AI last year, and I think it was one of them listen to pods that we did through 2023 and we thought it'd be good to give a media update on AI, I guess, from an agency viewpoint where we do have that benefit of, um, working with, lots of clients and kind of seeing how they're leveraging AI, , We obviously use it to varying degrees within the agency.

So we've got just a discussion around what we're saying, what's working, what's not working, where's the hype, what's what's real because it can be so hard. I think when you're sitting. in one business and you're hearing all this noise around AI and how transformative it is and you know Is that true or am I missing the boat kind of thing?

So I think Dave like is it a logical starting point might just be kind of Where are we at as we near the mid midpoint of 2024 with AI? 


David Lawrence: Yeah, that's a pretty big question James um I think where we're at is that a lot of the initial shock went through the whole industry when, 3.5 first came out and it looked so impressive. I think some of that shock has settled into a little bit of head scratching. Maybe it would be fair to say there's some tasks that AI is doing really, really well. There's not many jobs that it's doing really well though. , And if, however, you spend all your time listening to and believing the hype from some of the AI are big players, and certainly from most of the  tools that are springing up all around the place, you would definitely think that if you're not using AI to replace jobs, then you're doing something very, very wrong.

And I think that's why I sort of get to the head scratching thing, which is there seems to be a disconnect between what smart experts are doing in the real world with AI in marketing versus what we're being told we should be doing. 


James Lawrence: Yeah, it feels so true, doesn't it? Like I haven't seen a single example of this kind of transformative approach either within a role in Rocket or of any of our clients or prospective clients where there was a job or a headcount or a function in a business that used to kind of exist and it existed for a long period of time and now there's this kind of magic bullet from ChatGPT or Gemini or a third party tool that suddenly has meant that job has gone away.


David Lawrence: Yeah, I think that's right. You see lots of, pretty compelling case studies where someone will say this particular jobs now 40 percent more efficient because of AI and I have no doubt that's true in lots of cases. And that's certainly been true in lots of things that we do at Rocket.

The reality is, though, that that's always been the case with technology. So we would have so many teams at Rocket. Whether it's in digital channels or in creative or even in the back end kind of teams that run the company who do so much more work now than they did a year and a half ago because of the sort of AI that we talk about when we're talking about chat to BT and other sort of models, but, um, But it'll be equally true compared to five years ago when we're talking about the sorts of great things that, big players like Google and, and Adobe and HubSpot and, um, all the other tools that we use have simply got better using, in some cases, AI had been embedded in those platforms, other cases, just some really smart automation.

Um, so I think, again, that's a bit of the head scratching. It's like AI. Has become its own product category in lots of ways. It's just another type of technology and technology is what our entire industry is built on. So, so definitely some, um, some confusion there about, um, exactly what it should be doing.

And, and the fact that some of the benefits, they just happen around you without you even noticing or thinking about them. Suddenly you're just doing a whole lot more work. Um, and in some cases you're doing it better. 


James Lawrence: Very true. Like if you'd look at paid search, for instance, The types of things that that team are doing now, the types of tasks they're doing on a daily basis are so different to the types of tasks that were being done 10 years ago.

Um, there used to be, you know, third party plug in software that we would subscribe to that, as you said, would have a whole bunch of automations and rules and those types of things that would help us be, have a competitive advantage for our clients. Um, a lot of those things then got adopted within the Google Ads platform.

Which has used machine learning and AI to some extent for a long period of time. The kind of silver bullet and you won't need to optimize within platform anymore. I think there's more work to be done now in that, in that particular area than there was probably 15 years ago to maintain a competitive advantage.


David Lawrence: It's just different work, right? Like back in the day, it was so manual with managing bidding and budgets and all kinds of stuff. Whereas a lot of those things automated really nicely now. Um, I think had you been a zealot. For what the platforms were promising five years ago, you would have assumed you would have had almost no stuff in a paid search team in 2024.

Whereas we have more people in that team now than we used to. They're just doing much smarter work, much clever work and the competition's ramped up. So if you do want to use the default tool that's in the box, well. You're going to be average, aren't you? And if you're spending lots of money on your marketing, average doesn't cut it.

So humans is where you get the advantage. And I think that probably brings us around nicely back to AI, which is, you know, we've, we've put a lot of thought into how we're going to use AI at rocket. And it's certainly agencies who early days were like. Adopt AI, you'll become faster and you can grow your profit margins.

Um, and whilst there is a self serving logic in that, I think it's pretty clear where that goes, which is there will be agencies, of course, that don't do that. It's probably not the right thing to do. Um, and it's also not long term thinking. So, um, for us, we look at AI as a great tool to become more effective and more efficient in order to build a competitive advantage for clients.

And I would say the same thing applies to any marketer using AI, which is If you use AI to shrink your head count or your ability, you just have to understand that everyone else can do the same thing. So what's your competitive advantage? And it comes back now to what it came back to a decade ago or 50 years ago, a hundred years ago, which is the human brain is the advantage.

Um, except that everyone will use the tools pretty much as well as you're going to use them. Um, you have to understand your competitors, you have to understand your audience, um, and you use your good old brain to get that done. So, so that's kind of, it's interesting, like I, I definitely wouldn't want to come, come across as someone who's skeptical about, I always even necessarily critical about the wonderful things that it's doing, but at the same time, I think my message is don't believe the hype and 


James Lawrence: that's it because this fundamental promise of AI is that it supersedes your previous point is that it actually gets to this point of intelligence that is greater than what a human brain can kind of deliver.

And. The technologies that we're playing with at the moment that they're intrinsically not even AI, like it isn't, it's actually not artificial intelligence. We're looking at, um, large language models. We're looking at machine learning. We're actually not looking at that, which I think that the main protagonists in the space are kind of saying it is on the horizon and it will happen, but that remains to be seen.

And if that actually was, if that was to be broken down very, very different, but at the moment we're dealing with incredibly powerful Technology that can do certain things so much faster and the human brain can do, but then there's certain things that a very far beyond the reach of large language models, which in many ways are kind of reverting to average, right?

They're kind of extracting the absolute. Most average levels of content and a whole bunch of different things based on how they work. 


David Lawrence: Yeah, that's it. And I think if I was summing up AI towards the midpoint of 2024, I would say it's clear that it has more knowledge than any of us will ever have. Um, it's, it's insane how much it knows.

It has very little wisdom. Um, I would say it has less wisdom than you would expect for an intern or a junior. Um, you can grab so much stuff and throw it at you, but it's up to the human to decide, um, what the, what the useful and what the correct thing is to do with that information, or even whether the information is correct in the first place.

So, yeah, tons of knowledge, not very much wisdom. And I think, um, you have to look at. I guess the motivations of the different plays in AI to get a better understanding of why it's kind of confusing. So the whole idea that it becomes better and smarter than a human, that's this argument about AGI and will it reach it?

And if you listen to Sam Altman from OpenAI, it's a done deal. it's going to happen, it's going to happen within five years, maybe a touch longer, I think was the quote he said. Um, if you read a bunch of really boring stuff from AI academics, they have much bigger question marks about, um, obviously that time frame, but even whether it will happen anyhow.

And, and even recent history is littered with over promises from technology companies. I think by now we're all meant to be traveling around in, you know, in AI operated Ubers. We weren't meant to be driving our own cars anymore. It was going to revolutionize the motor and some of those a few years ago, it was like, you know, this will be the last time you buy a car you have to drive yourself.

And it doesn't feel like that's very close at the moment. It feels like it can do most of what we do in a car and some things it can do better, but in terms of not running into stationary objects or people or other cars, it just has some pretty fatal flaws that humans are just not all that comfortable with.

Um, and I feel that AI In marketing is the same, it can do some wonderful things and the combination of those wonderful things combined with the fact that most of the big players need to secure vast amounts of funding to do their next big thing means there's a lot of Promises that kind of say, well, we can do ABC that you never thought were possible.

And because we can do ABC, we're going to be able to do DEF. If we just have a little bit more time, a little bit more money. And Hey, I'm not an AI engineer. I would have no idea. But I personally think the connection between what they've done and what they're going to do in the future is, it's pretty tenuous.

Um, and there'd be lots of, um, of pretty calm, skeptical experts, you know, an awful lot more than you and I, who would probably agree with that as well. 


James Lawrence: Which is the position that I think most people listen to this pod should take. Okay. There is so much hype out there. There's thousand and one tools, which were kind of the, the slick explainer video or the thing you hear from a non marketer kind of says how it automates everything at the click of the button and it, it's a game changer.

I'm yet to see any of it. And I, to your point, like this isn't, I'm definitely not here trying to say that I is a sham and that, you know, it won't work because we will go through shortly the types of things that we're doing in the agency now with, um, with AI that we simply want, you know, 18 months ago and how it has changed what we're doing.

But I think just trying to get across the point that, um, There's a lot of noise around where this could go, and it may indeed do so, but I think there's also every chance that it doesn't and, um, the hype is yet to be realized with kind of the reality of getting campaigns into market and driving results.

And I think even just a kind of microcosm is that using AI to generate content where you took the pulse of most marketers. They would have said, yeah, we're going to be cutting down massively on on copywriting to get AI to generate of this copy on our behalf.

And I suspect most of you out there listening have done that. And you've kind of looked at the stuff that has come back. Yeah, it's kind of, it's not terrible, but it's kind of average. It's not very expert. It doesn't really nail it for us. And we see it right. Well, There's been two or three notable studies tracking heavily AI driven content versus human generated content in terms of Google search engine results and time and time again, the human content that outperforms the heavily AI content.

It's not to say that we're not using AI to help put drafts together, to put content plans together, content briefs. But if you're relying solely on AI content, um, at the moment you kind of. Struggling, we're seeing some of the big holding groups having pressure on their contracts from big multinational clients where they specifically don't want, although you need to disclose if AI is going to be writing any content on your behalf, kind of copyright type issues.

It's kind of, um, the promise was there, the results, not so much. It's kind of, 


David Lawrence: yeah, yeah, I think that's fair. And again, it goes back to, I think, what we talked about in our first put on this all that time ago. But, um. The idea that AI is not a job taker, it's a task taker, it's so true and, and I, I personally, you know, I'll have GPT and Gemini open, um, in my browser all day and I, and I use them fairly frequently.

I do a fair bit of content creation for Rocket, as you know, I don't use it for any entire content creation. I'm not even really using it for first drafts. Um, which I know is something that a lot of people do, I just find if you're looking for a unique and interesting perspective, then AI is a pretty decent research tool along the way, but for the sort of content I create, I don't find it all that useful.

If, on the other hand, I was needing to come up with 50 different headlines on a theme to test, uh, at scale, then AI plus a human. It's fantastic if I was generating tons and tons and tons of meta titles and the rest for SEO purposes, yeah, that, that's a pretty dreary job for a human. Um, and there's not a lot of value that human necessarily adds.

So AI plus a human oversight can be, can be really fantastic. But yeah, the, the very nature of the, large language models means that if you're expecting it to come up with some truly unique content, with a valuable perspective for your audience, you, you, you're not understanding how that technology works.

Um, the fact that it simply has to predict the next word that comes in a sentence on a particular topic, by definition, it means it has to deliver average. It has to be riffing on things that have been talked about before pretty commonly in the public forum. So it doesn't surprise me that the AI content is underperforming compared to human content.

And it's almost one of those things. You know, we all sort of laugh when there's a PhD that's well funded and someone spent four years to tell you something that was pretty obvious. It's a little bit the same, isn't it? That the idea that we're a computer that's been built to generate something that's average is underperforming compared to a skilled human writing something unique and valuable.

Not shocked about the performance change there. So again, not to say AI is not useful, you've just got to define the task that you're wanting to give it. And if the task is part of creating that great content, there's a really great role for it there. If the task is to create the great content, you've picked the wrong tool.


James Lawrence: Yeah, that's it. I mean, pretty nice segue into using AI highly effectively within the agency, and I guess what we're seeing clients clever ways that they're using it, so we kind of made a list prior to the pod, but, um, first on being improving the speed and quality of video, audio editing and enhancement.


David Lawrence: Yeah, this is a really interesting one, and maybe not one that jumped out. When I was being talked about initially, um, I is really great at data and patterns, um, and often when you're doing edits of things in a post production sense, um, basically, that's kind of what it breaks down to in the end. If you're looking at pixels or frames or whatever.

So yeah, I is being really effective at that. And increasing how much a skilled person can get through in a day, um, and also the quality of it, you know, so even for things like this pod, um, we use AI tools that are far superior at editing than the tools we used to use. 


James Lawrence: Yeah, that's it. And we're seeing a lot of those, that's the audio example, but definitely, um, within kind of the Adobe suite, kind of seeing a lot of that technology being built in and saving lots of time for designers kind of tidying up.

Work afterwards outputs those types of things. 


David Lawrence: Yeah, actually that mentioned Adobe. I think that's worth talking about. So I spent a lot of time jumping into different tools and platforms to see what they do. Um, and I'm often really disappointed and I think I'm doing something wrong. So there was one I fired up about 6 months ago, which promised to with a few inputs create.

Both the creative side of an ad copy and the visuals and work out exactly which platform it sounded amazing and I jumped in there briefed it, it gave me something that was so far below what I would have expected from the newest member of the team. It was simply unusable. I presumed I was doing something wrong and I got.

People in the team much more skilled than I am hands on to do something. And they said, No, no, it truly was that terrible. And I found that happening a lot. A lot of these little platforms that are springing up promising the world to marketers. They just don't deliver, particularly if they're trying to do something big.

And I do wonder when we fast forward a couple of years, how much of the AI we use will simply be technology that's embedded in platforms. We already trust and love. So how much of it will already be in Adobe, um, in the various Google products? In HubSpot, um, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And my feeling is a lot of the really great AI stuff will be owned and used by companies that have vast budgets to, to use these things and fast user users to, to make sure they're getting it right.

Canva is another one. Canva is using some great AI stuff at the moment. I know a lot of marketers are thoroughly enjoying. So do you jump on a small startup, which is, which is, you know, claiming to solve, A huge problem, or do you wait for the larger platforms to start using it in a sensible way? 


James Lawrence: I think that's kind of almost this dirty little secret, which is we all go into our LinkedIn and we speak to people about work and whatever else.

And it's just, oh, this tool is incredible. And you know, it's going to make this particular business function or this particular job. You know, redundant, you start playing with it. It's actually pretty average and that's just the reality of it. And I'm yet to see this kind of incredible tool that I've never heard about, which is just revolutionizing how one of our clients does anything in marketing.

Um, and that's not to say that there won't be. Absolutely. We'll be at some point, right? But you're going to hear about them. And I think that's the thing. I think so many marketers are so worried about AI coming for me and taking my job. And you know, there is going to be this actual AGI kind of type point, which may or may not happen.

But if that happens, then it's game over for more occupations than just marketing. So I think it is kind of this, um, Don't believe the hype. I think that is the genuine, um, the genuine takeaway. And we kind of, um, our internal focus on AI at Rocket is we basically have just put it firmly into the tech stack, which is it's a technology.

It's a tool and through the Rocket business and businesses prior to that, we've always had to have a view on new technology that helps us do our job better and helps, you know, Give our clients a competitive advantage of which I is undoubtedly one of those at the moment. Um, but it's not this kind of black box that suddenly makes us all redundant, right?


David Lawrence: Yeah, that's it. It's in the tech stack. It's probably the most exciting thing to change in the tech stack. Um, in, in memory, probably forever when it comes from a technology point of view. Um, but it's not everything I look, I reckon there'd be less than 10 AI products that we're using and loving. Um, outside of the AI that we're seeing embedded in the platforms we've used for a long time.

Um, so there's some really good stuff out there, but yeah, definitely, um, it, it's a, it's a smaller list than you would think if you were just browsing your LinkedIn feed or, or doing kind of random research on it. And I don't think we need to name Um, products or platforms now because it will date this podcast pretty quickly as it does change fairly quickly, but just in terms of the types of areas that we're, we're getting some really good outcomes from and I don't want to have it as a massive shopping list because I think that will become really tedious for people, but there's some really interesting things.

So, um, I know our, our creative team has, has been having a lot of fun and lots of agencies are using it. For this, where in the past you come up with a concept, and it would either be a fair bit of work to come up with a visual representation of your concept, or you'd be sort of just spelling it out to people, being able to fire up AI to actually create a beautiful visual, um, that isn't the visual you're going to go with.

If your concept gets accepted, but it certainly helps you sell the idea, helps you pitch the idea. So that's saving a ton of time. And I think it's helping clients understand where creatives are taking an idea. So probably not something you would have thought I was going to be amazing at, but but something that it's that it's genuinely Um, it's also obviously great for research.

So if you're coming up with a content plan, or you're actually writing an article, or you've you're working with a new client in an industry, not that familiar with, and you want to just get a really quick, um, feel for that industry, then it's just a great research tool for any of those things. So it can, um, You can give your perspective you might got over a longer period of time by Googling.

The big warning here is AI hallucinations are real and it will tell you things that sound so believable, um, except for the fact that they're dead. Completely untrue. So anything you learn through a quick research session using an AI tool, you have to go off and check. You have to fact check it. 


James Lawrence: Yeah, that's it.

And that's like, we would do the same thing if we're speaking to a new client and trying to better understand their space and who the big competitors could be and the general direction of the industry and how big it might be in the country. Absolutely. It's a great thing to breathe into. I'm Gemini or ChatGPT.

I think for me and for us. Anything where the answer has to be right or anything where the answer has to be particularly perfect Be very very very very cautious and you really need to then rely upon someone that actually knows who understands that space Anything where the answer doesn't need to be perfect and you can kind of take the good stuff and jettison the bad Phenomenally effective which I think is why it's so good at ideation You know, if I'm doing a podcast for sure, I'll kind of punch in that I'm interviewing a certain person, the audience are Australian in house marketers, what are 15 questions or directions I could take, and generally there might be, you know, five or six of them, which I already had.

Two or three, which I didn't know. Awesome. And then kind of three or four, which I think are pretty irrelevant, but I wouldn't, I'd be pretty embarrassed if I had to kind of sit there and ask the guests all those questions. Um, so the big distinction between using it to help you and aid you versus when you're trying to get something to the point of absolute perfection, um, even in, um, kind of encoding it's.

Apparently very, very useful because you know, right, if it doesn't work, then you're going to go back and fix it. But then it's something like if you don't actually get it to solve an equation, it might do it quite incorrectly, but it'll tell you that it's absolutely perfect, which is a bit of a concern.


David Lawrence: Look, even even with the coding thing, um, people I've spoken to have said that it's yeah, it's it's good. Like a junior coder is good. Um, it won't. necessarily give you bug free code and it won't necessarily write code that's going to get you to the right place in the right way. And it obviously can't think strategically, but if you were to ask it to do a certain thing, it can do a pretty reasonable job.

And it's the same with, um, I know lots of our teams use it to, to write some quick JavaScript, um, or other code for tracking or to write, um, formulas. Yeah, that's it. It's, it's pretty good for that kind of stuff. I think. What a lot of the, and they're not criticisms because they're just the reality. I think some of the limitations at the moment, and again, it comes back to that wisdom versus knowledge thing is because it doesn't have any wisdom, it makes it a great tool for an expert.

So you're an expert. at interviewing people on a podcast. So you can look at those questions and know instinctively what's going to work and what's not going to work. Um, someone who'd never done a podcast before couldn't just fire up AI, um, and suddenly know what they're doing. And that's the same, whether you're a writer or a designer or a coder or someone that works inside an ad platform, um, it's a great tool to help some of your tasks go faster or better, um, but it will not make you an expert at all.


James Lawrence: It's been on other types of things we use. I mean, we obviously use it for a whole bunch of ideation to your point writing, um, perspective headline copy copy to split test against another version, but then exactly you said that no chance ever would. Copy just go live right would be human making sure they like it running it by the client, you know through approval processes Um, but definitely a time saver in that space.

I think it's quite interesting that I had ralph Graydon on the pod who's a copywriter and he's very very very pro generative. Ai works Run seminars on how to use it to help you write better and more efficiently, whatever else. And his experience in his business is exactly the same as ours with our copy teams, where like, at the time, we kind of felt maybe 10 percent more efficient in terms of writing good quality content.

It's basically not. And his business and ours have only grown our number of copywriters, full time employees since You know, the beginning of, um, ChatGPT explosion last year because the reality is, is that it's just not the more copywriters that I speak to and get exposed to and see in house teams, they're just not using it to move things from kind of a blank piece of paper to something that's published with any efficacy.


David Lawrence: Yeah, that's it. I think, um, and obviously. Depending on what the writer's doing, it's going to have a different benefit for AI or not, but I think there's lots of places where AI is making the output better, um, for a skilled writer, but, um, but yeah, whether that better makes it faster or not, it would depend on the task for sure.


James Lawrence: I think that comes back to the. Initial kind of point we're making, which is your competitors in your market have exactly the same access to these tools as you do. And if you're using it to save time or money at the moment, all you're going to do is create average a lot faster. But the reality is, in order to make a competitive advantage, you have to do things better.

And that still requires, at this point in time, better. Human endeavor and technology and tools than what we're seeing through generative AI, right? 


David Lawrence: Yeah, that's it. And it's, it's an interesting thought experiment. If, if we ever got to the point where AGI existed and, and, and the machine was better than the human and all of us humans could opt out of marketing and sit on the beach.

Um, doing whatever it is we get paid to do with our jobs. Um, you know, what, what would happen if two companies were marketing against each other? They both have exactly the same tool and they're both using computers to do the lot. Is the winner the one with the deeper pockets? Or are the tools not democratically available?

So it's the one that has access to the best tool is the one that wins. And I think So often you get back to the same place, which is the one that's going to win is the one that has deep pockets. That's always been important in marketing and has access to the best tools. That's always been important in marketing as well, but I suspect there will always be a role for the human to be involved in making sure that those two things are being used correctly and there might be less humans involved.

Um, although as per our example with, with Google ads before, we're using more people now, um, in our team than we used to and copywriting feels like it might be going the same way. So, um, it's, it's an interesting one though. I, it's, it's hard to imagine what the world looks like if there truly is no role for people in something.


James Lawrence: Yeah. And I just don't think it's seen in our lifetime and seeing David Drogo, who's Australia's top marketer of all time, with. You know, a huge role to play in the way that I and, you know, human creativity move forward for the world's advertising and marketing industries.

And you look at, um, what Accenture song are doing, and they kind of. They talk a lot about this kind of tech layer they're building in and AI smarts and all of those types of things, but they are going hammer and tong to get the best creative minds, um, to, to work within that kind of framework. And he made the point that he just doesn't see a world where it's.

I can make that kind of hair on the back of the neck stand up. And I think that comes back to what particularly what we say at the moment with kind of large language models where they kind of revert back into the abridged or back into what has already been done and often most powerful creative is the stuff that actually kind of zags when we zig and it explores a terrain we haven't been to or taps into this deep human emotion.

And so I think it is a game changer if. Um, artificial intelligence genuinely, you know, is intelligent and we have AGI, but we're a long way away from that, from my understanding, um, until that moment in time, it's a, it's kind of a little bit of a moot conversation and the idea that. You know, we'll be able to, um, kind of test all of our campaigns before they get into market.

Um, I just don't know if that'll hold, because I think you'll still find that the business that has the incredible creative idea, um, or that understanding of a market in a different way will be the one that wins. 


David Lawrence: Yeah, for sure. And, and again, not to sound too skeptical, but I found it quite interesting in the last year that a lot of the large organizations around the world who've talked about these massive investments in AI, they never privately held companies, they're pretty much always in the, in the advertising, in the agency space, they're the holding companies, um, agencies that are constantly battling to keep their share prices high in the consulting world.

They're the same. Their companies often, um, with share price concerns. Or they're using it as a marketing tool to attract big paying clients, but they're hyping up what they're doing with AI and often if you look at where they're investing the money in AI right now, they're talking about things that actually aren't possible right now.

So there's definitely a little bit of, uh, sort of the vaporware promises of old, um, combining with the AI hype to make these companies sound really desirable. Um, for their investors and that's not a bad thing. That's their businesses protect and they and they should do it however they see fit. But I think if you're a medium sized company and you're hearing the really huge players in your space talking about their massive AI investments, don't panic.

There's an awful lot of this is going to turn out to be hype and share market hype in particular, rather than things changers. 


James Lawrence: It's a very unsexy proposition to go out to market and say, yeah, AI kind of, it's complex. It depends. Yeah, like, and that's probably the thing with this pod, right? But the reality is, is that a lot easier to kind of land clients by kind of selling the smoke and mirrors of something that, you know, you then don't have to stand behind.

But that is the reality of it at this moment in time. 


David Lawrence: Apple were taking that position. So Google, Facebook, a bunch of the other big players were, were hyping AI massively and Apple has been quiet for a very long time on it. And that, that changed a couple of months ago. Um, and that we're getting, I think some, some pretty harsh pressure from, from the, the share market analysts that they needed.

Some kind of AI message to roll out there. So yeah, I mean, I get it. I understand why people would would do that. Yeah, but I guess, as you just said, the message to marketers out there who might be scratching their heads going, geez, am I doing this right? It just doesn't seem as amazing as people are telling me it is, is that there is reasons for the hype.

There's tons to be excited about. And you are, you are missing the boat if you're not already finding tasks in your workflow, where AI Yeah, it has a great place. You should absolutely be doing that. You should be keeping an eye on the future. You should be looking at the big platforms that you use all the time because they will have a natural advantage in integrating.

I, but if it's not replacing people in your team, the way you thought it would, or the way you think it should, or if it's not making your job magnitudes easier, um, the way that, um, The PR hype is telling you it should. Don't fret. Don't stress. You're probably not doing anything wrong. Um, it really is an emerging technology when it comes to marketing.

Um, and it's a game changer, but it's not a game changer in all ways. We're being told. It is. 


James Lawrence: Yeah, that's exactly right. That's a good. So you kind of mentioned the big, the big tech players, they're going to be good. To talk for a few minutes around this kind of discussion of ChatGPT and then Google's Gemini as a search engine.

Like, is this the downfall of Google? Probably at the beginning of 2023, it was very much this ChatGPT taking off connection with Microsoft will being kind of take it to Google. And now we're kind of saying is ChatGPT a search engine. Are they unveiling a search engine?

Um, or is, um, the new version of ChatGPT 4.0 is that the search engine kind of competitor? And then we see what. Google has kind of come out and basically said, yeah, we're moving people away from our traditional search bot towards Gemini. Um, kind of, yeah, to talk to, I guess for the, for the listeners that are interested as to where the search landscape is going to go.


David Lawrence: Yeah. Time will tell. I think again, this is something where maybe a year, a year and a half distance can give us a bit of perspective on the hype, but, but when, uh, ChatGPT four came out, And Microsoft were rolling, I suppose they're probably rolling the early versions in as well into search. There were a lot of people saying Google has missed the boat here.

Uh, their product is not very good and they've rushed it to market and it's not finished. And this is fine. They're going to give being the competitive advantage that it needed to actually win some market share. And you know, this space more than I do, but what impact has that had on Bing's market share for search?


James Lawrence: Yeah, zero, right? Like if you look at, um, Usage of being in Australia year on year it actually fell away by I think I think being runs at like 3. 4 percent or something of searches in the country each year. I think it dropped away by 0. 4 in the 12 months to January 2024. Um, I had ran Fishkin on the pod A few months back, and we were talking about that, and he'd seen nothing in America to suggest that there'd been any erosion of Google's number of searches being undertaken per day or control of the search engine landscape from ChatGPT.

So, in that first kind of 14 months, we've seen absolutely no impact of users turning to ChatGPT to find the answers to questions that they would once have turned to Google. 

  1. A. rolled out kind of an A. I. What integration into its search engine results pages, um, through the back end of 2023, the Gemini product is now basically the product that they're saying will do a lot of heavy work in the search space. Um, And I think there's no doubt that, you do use it as this kind of back and forth, tell me this, tell me more, population of the country, whatever it might be, the new, um, ChatGPT 4.0, um, rollout, we get, we're getting real time information coming in, we're getting better citations of, um, where, You know, it's pulling its sources from which helps. Um, and clearly, I mean, Google, Google's promise in their press release around the move to Gemini as, um, through its kind of, um, AI search integration, they're basically presenting it as Google will do the Googling for you.

Um, but it remains to be seen, like it's, we've kind of built up over the last 20 years, this kind of relationship with, um, The Google search bot search search engine. Um, you know, kind of how to access the information. We like a lot of those changes and knowledge graph and sports scores and all those types of things have kind of been a very gradual change.

And I think that helps us as users to get the information we need definitely in this digital world. Doesn't mean it will be the case in a year's time or five years time, but definitely I see huge amounts of frustrations. Just incredibly just manifestly wrong information being returned from both Gemini.

When we look at the AI kind of data being pulled through, there's a post that ran shared this week just around. Um, ChatGPT four ohs kind of realtime information and him kind of asking for recommendation on breakfast places in his neighborhood. And I think four of the five places had closed years and years and years ago, and that doesn't, obviously, they'll fix a lot of those issues and they'll get realtime data and they'll work out a better way to pull in Google reviews and, and you know, a whole bunch, or being reviews as, as it might be.

Um, but yeah, I, I think it, um, it will be interesting, I think. You hear a lot about how that will kill SEO as we, as it is, which I think it's a, if users start to interact with these bots, I think we'll see a lot more voice search where, whether it's Gemini, whether it's ChatGPT, I think we'll see a, it's kind of a more natural conversational kind of flow.

And then the next question is going to be, how do you then optimize to get your, uh, your business or your product or service as high as possible for certain queries? 


David Lawrence: Yeah, I mean, things are going to change and I don't disagree with anything you've said, but. But it's always follow the money, isn't it? And, and Google have their, their paid search businesses is the moat around, around their empire.

Um, they're obviously not going to let that go into a large language model search engine if there isn't some way for them to return the same or more money from it. So yeah, I think there's going to be change. I think it's not going to be radical. I also think, you know, People through out history have proven they're not interested in the best.

They're interested in the easiest and the easiest thing for all of us to do at the moment is to keep searching for things the way that we search for them. And, you know, I think there's a lot of disingenuous statistics out there in marketing, but if you believe all the numbers. That tell you all the places people search other than Google for things.

Then Google would probably have no search left at all. You know, people search for tick tock for this and, and they search in Pinterest for this, and they go to Bing for this now, and they're going to go there more because of AI. And, um, and they're doing YouTube for this and they're doing Amazon for that.

Um, and that's all true to a certain extent. And yet we know as agency owners, just how much search goes through Google still, and how many clients do really well by making sure that. They're in front of eyeballs at Google, whether it's paid or organic. So yeah, I think there's going to be changes. Um, and I've probably seen little changes in my own usage and wanting, you know, any marketer is probably going to be changing quicker than the average population and probably changing in ways the average population never ends up changing.

But if I want an overview of a topic. I go to Gemini or GPT if I want to understand how to do something that's kind of practical. I tend just to go to YouTube because the videos are nice and easy for me to do that. If I'm actually looking for someone I want to spend money with, I go to Google pretty much every time.

Um, and I think there'll be lots of people that have a different mix of the platforms they go to depending on what they want to do. And it changes via age, demographic and country and all the rest of it. Um, Um, I, I certainly don't think we're, we're on the precipice of a revolution. 


James Lawrence: Um, yeah, I think, um, and the reality is time will tell on that, right, which is 5 years ago, there was no business that I know of that was marketing and tick tock, right?

And now tick tock plays a good role for certain businesses, you know, with certain, um, Target markets to effectively market themselves in a certain way. The search landscape has really not changed in Australia in the last 20 years in a, in a meaningful fashion. And, um, that might change. I, and the, the Google's Gemini response is it just, it's up now at war with open AI, right?

It's like ChatGPT is doing something we need to respond because it is, you know, it's taking up eyeballs and it's a technology that's pretty adjacent to, to what we do. And, but yeah, you're right. Like it doesn't matter what happens. Both of those organizations need to make money somehow, Google has a huge amount of money that it makes from from ad revenue and if it then comes down to an organic part of those engines, then it's going to be about relevance, right?

How do you, what are those factors, those algorithm factors that help you to be seen as, you know, a better, more authoritative space? Provider in your, in your space, right?


David Lawrence: Yeah, that's it. You're selling. And I'm not sure there's ever going to be a system that can't be manipulated or influenced by marketers.

So whether it's, whether it's the organic algorithm in Google or whether it's trying to figure out how a large language model is choosing what it's going to say in the results, there'll be lots of people like us and lots of other people all around the world who try to figure out ways to get there. So I think if you're an in house marketer, um, This fragmentation of where your audiences go to solve their problems and get information and get value, the fragmentation can be a little bit scary because it can make your job harder.

I think it's also really positive because if you're the sort of person listening to a pod like this, You're already someone that's probably ahead of some of the other marketers you're competing against You're curious you're trying to work out the best way to do it and and complexity and uncertainty gives you an advantage Certainly as an agency, that's the role we play Um, if google was to be suddenly replaced by by 10 different things that were all 10 percent of valuable as google is now Cynically, that's good news for us as an agency. 


James Lawrence: Like um A friend of mine that owns an agency sent me a link to Sam Altman's quote, which is 95 percent of marketing agencies will be out of business in five years and you kind of dig under it and it's like, well, it's complete BS.

Um, then he came out afterwards and kind of walked it back to your point. Like it, our clients will be at a competitive advantage if ChatGPT does start fighting that with Google and then some other technology pops up because. Right message to the right person at the right time. We'll figure out a way how to get our clients there.

We'll hire the best people. We'll train the best people and we'll have our clients. They're getting that advantage that, um, that their customers, you know, will otherwise not be saying. So I think that's, um, I think you're right. I think it's about taking a kind of a sensible approach to it, which is kind of for me, don't believe the hype in the sense that Google is still driving 55 percent of traffic, , to, to Australian, uh, Customers websites by organic and an extra 15 percent if you're looking at the paid space and the other activity, which can be massively impactful in terms of, um, initiating a path to purchase or informing or a touch point.

But, you know, if you look at what the role of social and email, it's it's a very different role than what we're seeing in search. 


David Lawrence: Yeah, absolutely. It's a complex world we and all our listeners operate in.


James Lawrence: Yeah, couldn't agree more, Dave. Well, hopefully we've been able to, communicate like what to be worried about, what not, not to be worried about. Um, anything else that you, you feel you'd like to add to that? 


David Lawrence: Oh, I just hope we haven't just had a, a rambling conversation that we found enjoyable, but everyone else is going, geez, fellas, whatever, what are you talking about there?

Um, no, I, I think it reflects the complexity of the situation that we're in. And, um, And I, I think, um, I know you're probably gonna, or maybe you won't, maybe you'll ask me the question about what advice would you give to a marketer. I know you stop asking that when someone's been on too many times. 


James Lawrence: I wasn't going to ask you, but you've asked yourself, so you're given the chance to answer it.


David Lawrence: Excellent. I will then look for me. It's something I've mentioned a couple of times in this episode. But I think it's really important as a marketer. You have to have, I think, a level of enthusiasm for new technologies and new ways of doing things. That's really important. Um, what you do this year won't be good enough next year, but you have to balance that with genuinely healthy skepticism that a lot of the things that we're offered as marketers are just not up to scratch.

Um, and if we start feeling inadequate because they're not working for us, or if we start doing dozens and dozens of things just because they're the latest, but they're often not the most effective, then we won't be effective marketers. So yeah, be skeptical, use your time and your resources wisely. Um, and hold off until you know, something's actually going to work for your client or your business.


James Lawrence: That's a very, very good point, Dave. Um, so thanks a lot for coming back onto the pod and hopefully everyone out there. You got something of value out of that. 


David Lawrence: My pleasure. That's good fun. 


We wrote the best-selling marketing book, Smarter Marketer

Written by Rocket’s co-founders, David Lawrence and James Lawrence, Smarter Marketer claimed #1 Amazon best-seller status within 3 hours of launch!