AI in a Content Marketing Agency World

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Scott Severson is president of Brandpoint, a content marketing agency that has been around since 1996. Now a full-service agency, Brandpoint clients with the entire spectrum of content marketing services, from strategy and website development to written and visual content forms. It is one of the first agencies to adapt AI (Lucy) as part of its everyday practice for clients work.

I spent some time with Scott on the phone to discuss how AI, as embodied by Lucy, can help agencies serve their clients.

Geoff: With Equals 3 Lucy, it seems like you could do quite a few things. You could get into marketing automation a little bit, with the content. Of course, you could get into segmentation with audiences and the like. Can you tell me a little bit about how you’re actually using Lucy on a strategic and tactical front, on how you make a campaign better?

Scott: One of the things that Lucy does that’s really powerful is leverage the terabytes of data sitting on company’s servers that are not providing value to them. The ability to ingest that data and then draw conclusions from natural language search from that data, I think that’s a really cool feature that they offer.

Being on an agency side, we typically don’t have access to those terabytes of data that the clients have. So the way we’ve been using Lucy is taking a couple of forms for a content marketing agency. I think depending on the agency, if you’re a media buying agency, you would really look at it through a completely different lens and use different tools.

Brandpoint is in the business of developing content that is going to resonate with our client’s target audience. And then have the audience engage with that content and do something downstream with that. It’s really important that we are able to develop great content. We are always looking for as many clues as we can find in our strategies to really help us do that.

We have been using Lucy in our strategic practice. As we’re developing a client strategy, we’re able to process a lot more data using Lucy to help us understand who the audience is, what topics are going to resonate with them.

It helps us with topic generation quite a bit. And it can go so far as to help us understand what imagery might resonate with a target audience. We’re using it on the front end around content creation themes and topics, all surrounding what is really resonating with that target audience.

The other way that we use Lucy is to access to a lot of different tool sets. One of the cool things that I like about what we do with Lucy is accessing five different tool sets to analyze data or answer questions that I might have. I can access all of them through this one interface and can compare and contrast data. I can run cool reports that are really easy to dump into PowerPoints and include into a client strategy.

Those are the primary ways that we’re using the tools today at Brandpoint.

Geoff: Is there any particular instance that you’re allowed to talk about, that you could share how this made a difference?

Scott: We have so many NDAs with our clients. I get in trouble because I can never remember who is under an NDA, but it’s becoming such a commonplace thing. There are no really good case studies that I can share.

What I can share are the categories that we work in. We do a lot of work in financial services. We do work in the healthcare space. We just recently worked with a client in the healthcare space that we used Lucy on, in the manner that I shared. And it was really helpful for them and us, because we’re able to just look at much bigger data sets, and I think, get better results than a human could do alone.

It’s really melding our vision for what the client needs to do strategically and it’s aiding that creativity with the ability to crunch tons and tons of data and blend those two together. And that’s the thing that I think is really cool.

It’s not replacing, because when I start talking about this, people are like, “Well, is this going to replace my job?” I don’t see AI replacing the creative practice. IT’s only going to enhance it.

Geoff: Is there anything about Lucy and AI that I haven’t asked you, which you would tell me?

Scott: Yeah, that’s a good question. It’s really been our first … I mean, I guess we’re … For years we’ve been using some form of AI in our daily lives without really knowing it. Lucy is our first foray as a business into using AI to enhance what we do with clients. From that perspective, it’s been really cool to work with the tool.

It’s been interesting to watch the evolution of the tool, just in terms of how it’s learning over time, as they layer in more data sources over time. It’s getting smarter. It’s becoming more useful to us. If you consider the idea of democratizing data, we are really only seeing the very beginnings of what that’s going to look like.

The next five years are going to be really interesting, especially if you’re in the creative agency space. We’re going to be using big data and AI to really automate and speed up things that we’re doing on a recurring basis for clients. This will allow us to go deeper into creative work. So, I’m a fan of what’s it’s meant for our agency, and it’s going to be fun to see where it goes.

Geoff: Do you see AI replacing people eventually?

Scott: You know, I think if you … I mean, as a general concept, beyond agencies, if you are in a job that is rote and repetitive, I would be worried. Because somebody’s going to figure out a way to replace your function.

If you are in a job that is creative, and adding value through your thoughts, I see it only adding to it. When Excel came out in the 80s, people thought accountants were going to be replaced. What do we need accountants for? We have these amazing spreadsheet software programs that can do all of this stuff.

It turns out, that because of the technology, the role changed. We probably have more accountants now than we did in the 80s, but their value has moved up the food chain. As opposed to just simple bookkeeping, now they’ve become analysts and they’re adding creativity and doing different, higher level work.

I see AI as much the same. It’s going to enable us in the agency world, and in the creative world to level up and do even more creative work that’s enabled by the technology of the future.