Eric van Hall • CopyRobin
06 September ‘22 • 17 min. reading time • Blogposts

AI writers: a threat or a boon for copywriters?

06-09-2022

Breaking news! We’re switching from human writers to AI tools. After months of testing, we will have our texts written by advanced AI copywriting software as of Monday. These texts are indistinguishable from texts written by humans. A blessing for our customers, because it’s 80% cheaper!

Our copywriters read this through our communication channels.

Date: April 1.

It was a joke which some of our writers fell for. Not surprising, because at CopyRobin we follow the developments of AI writers with great interest. There are now dozens on the market. But how good are they? And of course, the big question: can they replace human copywriters?

We did a cross-tool comparison and survey to hear others' experiences with AI writers. We’ll share them with you in this article.

How does an AI writer work?

AI writers are based on Artificial Intelligence (AI). For a long time, companies and writers have been using AI to create content, often without knowing it. Initially, AI was mainly used in tools for editing, translating or converting speech into text. But today you can actually write texts with AI.

Today you can actually write texts with AI.

Things have been moving fast lately: suddenly there is a huge supply of AI writers. These tools can create an article or other type of written content based on input such as keywords and the desired tone of voice. The growth of these AI writers is mainly due to the rise of GPT-3.

What is GPT-3?

GPT-3 is an AI model that mimics human language. The application generates sentences based on a huge amount of information on which the algorithm was trained. GPT-3 stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3.

To learn languages, GPT-3 has read the whole world wide web, including Wikipedia and all Google Books. Altogether, that’s about 45 terabytes or 3,375,000,000 pages. There is no one as well-read as GPT-3. With all that knowledge, GPT-3 can generate text on almost any subject based on a few examples.

GPT-3's algorithm specialises in processing long chunks of text, recognising the most salient information and understanding how words are used in natural language. To test whether it works, researchers gave respondents a series of 200-word press releases that were written by humans or AI using GPT-3. Their research showed that only 12% of people recognised when a text had been written by the AI. In short, GPT-3 is talented.

We researched a number of AI writers and conducted a survey in our network.

That made us curious. As a copywriting agency, we naturally want to see this with our own eyes! That's why we researched a number of AI writers and conducted a survey in our network.

Reading tip: What is ghostwriting? Hire a ghostwriter for your texts.

What functions does an AI writer have?

First, let's take a look at the features of an AI writer. What can you expect from an AI writer?

Every AI writer creates content based on research on the articles that it has stored in its database. That is the core task of an AI writer. The writers differ quite a bit in the different types of content they can write and the extra functions. These are often integrated as plug-ins, whether or not from third parties.

Some of the additional functions that we saw in our research are:

  • Generating ideas for content
  • Building suggestions for a blog based on the PAS or AIDA mode
  • Creating social media posts linked to an article
  • Creating titles
  • Rewriting sentences and make content easier or more readable
  • Checking grammar
  • SEO Support

 

Most AI writers can write different types of content. Besides blogs, you can create product descriptions, value propositions, USPs, and pain & gain claims (what is the problem of your target group and how can you solve it?). You can also create slogans, product pitches, titles, content and advertisements for social media and Google, or have your website built.

Advantages and disadvantages of using an AI writer

An AI writer needs input. As Headlime puts it on their website: “Our AI may be clever, but it's not smart.” In other words: the software can only use the keywords that you enter to search its database. Hence, the right keywords are important. An AI writer is not a dictionary or thesaurus and therefore does not know all possible synonyms. But the more data AI writers collect, the smarter they will become. Anyway, specific input always results in better outcomes.

“Our AI may be clever, but it's not smart.” - Headlime

In summary, AI writers have the following advantages and disadvantages. We will explore this in more detail in our comparative study.

Advantages

Disadvantages

● Inspiration, breaking through writer's block.

● Checks on sources and fake news are lacking.

Although some AI writers have developed a fact checker add-on for this.

● Speed.

● Texts in Dutch usually have a lower quality than English texts, because less data is available in Dutch.

● Substantiate your text with data.

● If the AI writer uses international sources, then rules, legislation or customs may deviate from the local situation.

● Scale, create more content.

● Empathy and humour are lacking: AI cannot empathise with the reader. Texts are quite dry and factual.

● Inspiration for your content planning: what does your target audience want to hear?

● Quality: the structure of the text is often not logical and sentences with the same meaning often appear several times in an article.

 

● AI writers do not have their own opinion or insights about a subject.

 

● AI writers are not consistent. For example, formal and informal language is often used interchangeably in the output.

 

Whether an AI writer saves time mainly depends on the quality you need. Do you want to create a lot of content on a regular basis? Then an AI writer is a good tool. Or are you a writer who regularly suffers from writer's block? Then an AI writer might help you get started faster.

Overview AI writers

The AI writers landscape is always evolving. Already during this research, several AI writers merged. In the table below we list the most important AI writers, including an overview of prices and how extensive they are.

We have examined a few of these AI writers in more detail and assigned them a score. This score is compared to a text written by a human copywriter.

You can read more details about the tested AI writers below the table.

Tool

Overall rate NL

Overall rate ENG

Applications

Price per month

Human copywriter

10

10

   

AI-writer

English only

3

limited

From $29 for about 40 articles to $375 for up to 1,000 articles.

Anyword

English only

7

extensive

Free or price based on desired number of words. Maximum $266 for unlimited.

Bertha

   

extensive

From $30 to $99 (unlimited). Or pay as you go from $18 (10,000 words) to $110 (100,000 words)

Closerscopy

   

extensive

From $49.99 (300 AI runs) to $99.99 (unlimited)

Copy.ai

3

6

extensive

From $49 for 40k words. Free version available (2k words)

Copysmith

-

5

standard

$19 (up to 40k, $59 (up to 260k words), unlimited on demand.

Contentbot

   

standard

Prepaid – $29 (40k), $59 (100k), or $99 (300k words).

Headlime

3

4

standard

1500 credits $59. Unlimited $399.

Hypotenuse

   

limited

$29 or $59, amount of words unclear. Unlimited on request.

Longshot

-

7

extensive

From $0 (approx. 330 words) to $89.90 (unlimited)

Jasper

(previously Jarvis)

   

extensive

From $29 (20k words)unlimited words – price on request.

Outranking

   

extensive

From $129 (250k words) to $999 (unlimited)

Peppertype

3

5

extensive

From $35 (1 user, 50k words). No free version.

Rytr

4

4

extensive

Free (up to 5k characters), $9 (up to 50k), $29 unlimited

Surfer-SEO

   

extensive

Free, $49 (10 articles), $99 (30 articles), $199 (70 articles)

Texta

   

extensive

$10 (25k), $29 (50k), $49 (100k words). 60% discount for annual subscriptions.

Unbounce SmartvCopy (previously Snazzy)

   

standard

Free (40 credits), $9 (200 credits), or $49 (unlimited credits)

Writecream

3

4

extensive

Free up to 40k characters. Limited to $29 for unlimited.

Writesonic

   

extensive

From $0 (2500 words) to $666 (2 million words)

Wordhero

   

unknown

No free version and no free trial. From $29.00 for unlimited use.

 

Comparative research between AI writers

We have tested a number of AI writers ourselves. For this, we used one brief to create content in both English and Dutch. For this comparison, we focused on the tools most frequently mentioned by our survey respondents, which we were able to test with a free trial. Consequently, the results are more limited than they would be with a paid subscription.

We asked the AI writers to create

  1. A blog outline
  2. A blog 
  3. Social media posts

 

The topic given for this content was the pros and cons of publishing your own business blog. We wanted to compare the output with the blog that our own human copywriter had written about this topic. The scores on quality are compared to a human copywriter. We rated our human writer’s texts 10 and the texts that the AI writers produced are compared to that score of 10.

Findings

It immediately became clear that the brief for the AI writer had to be much more specific than that for our own copywriter. In terms of output, the AI writer mainly provided a lot of factual information. Great as background information and to help get over writer's block, but not much fun to read. It is clear that you cannot expect an AI writer to empathise with your target audience or deliver creative texts. The results could not compete with the writing work of our own copywriter, we concluded.

It is clear that you cannot expect an AI writer to empathise with your target audience or deliver creative texts.

It also turned out that AI writers often work from the same source texts, because we occasionally saw the same sentences. However, in addition to the final texts, there were also major differences – especially in terms of design, user-friendliness and integration with other apps.

Some AI writers have tools for SEO, fact-checking, improving readability, and framing an article – for example by using a PAS or AIDA model, or by choosing top questions and facts about the topic.

Below you will find a short summary per AI writer.

AIWriter

aiwriter(1).jpg

AIWriter can only write articles, not social media posts or other types of content. The tool only creates English texts. The quality of the result is not great. It can serve as inspiration, but the text must be rewritten as the structure and many of the sentences are not logical.

Score
Dutch: not possible
English: 3

Anyword

anyword-1(1).jpg

anyword-2(1).jpg

The blog function in English is very user-friendly. The article that Anyword wrote stands head and shoulders above the rest. It reads well and the content is also quite strong, including some good tips in bullet points.

Score
Dutch: blog not possible
English: 7

copy.ai

copyai(1).jpg


The quality of the Dutch language is moderate. The sentences are difficult to read and a bit strange, and also contain some errors. The use of English is surprisingly good. Be aware of incorrect info though – for example, Copy.ai falsely claims that WordPress is owned by Google.

Score
Dutch: 3
English: 6

copysmith

copysmith(1).jpg

The long-form content creator is still in beta. The AI writer always gives several options per paragraph after you’ve entered a headline. You write your story per paragraph, so it goes quite slowly. The social media posts appear to be mainly sales-oriented. There is no Dutch output for longer content yet, so we cannot test it.

Score
Dutch: no long-form output
English: 5

Headlime

headlime(1).jpg

Headlime does not generate a complete blog in one go, but always suggests you: “Continue writing a bit more yourself.” If you type in a few sentences yourself, Headlime will start working with them again. Generating an article in one go is not possible. Output sentences are obvious, but don't really make up a story. The social media posts are almost literally the text that served as input.

Score
Dutch: 3
English: 4


Longshot

longshot-1(1).jpg

longshot-2(1).jpg

Longshot guides you through the writing process, from topic, to outline, to content. You start with the keyword, then add subtitles, relevant questions, facts, the number of outlines for your article and the relevant niche. This tool also builds the text by paragraph, so you can't write a blog all at once. The quality of the text is surprisingly good.

Longshot has many extra features like a fact-checker, text extender for when you have writer's block, ELI5 (Explain like I am 5) to improve readability, and a paragraph shredder to shorten long paragraphs.

Social media post templates do not exist. Longshot is mainly focused on everything for blogs – title, content, meta description, keywords, ideas, product copy and sales emails.

Score
Dutch: not possible due to limited number of credits
English: 7

Peppertype

peppertype(1).jpg

Peppertype does not offer the possibility to have a full blog written based on an outline. You do have a few separate tools to write an intro, paragraphs and a conclusion though. The outline works in Dutch, as does the intro writer.

Peppertype.ai has English as its main language but can handle more languages, according to the description. However, some paragraphs in the Dutch text appear in English, also with Dutch input. Because you have to work with separate tools, Peppertype is a bit more cumbersome than other tools, but the quality of the texts is quite decent.

Score
Dutch: 3
English: 5

Rytr

rytr(1).jpg

With this tool you build a blog section by section. You can't write a blog in one go. The result is reasonable, although sentences sometimes appear twice. The social media texts are okay, but not great. In addition, sentences are often broken halfway through. The output in Dutch is more original than in English. Rytr even comes up with an appropriate quote. Only the social media texts are qualitatively less original.

The user-friendliness is also good. The tool has many extra features such as a copywriting framework based on AIDA or PAS, interview questions, job description, song lyrics, story plot, and answers to reviews and messages. The outline based on AIDA is nice, but does not really get to the core. The output of the outline and blog are mainly to build on. The text redirects you to the source file. This is useful if you want to get inspired.

Funny note: when you sign up, you get a welcome email written by Rytr itself.

Score
Dutch: 4
English: 4

Writecream

writecream(1).jpg

Writecream works very easily and intuitively and offers quite a few tools and templates. The different choices of outlines and intros ensure a promising start. But the article itself is not good in Dutch. The text is messy, lacks logic and contains lots of repetition. Sentences are weird or are suddenly broken. In short: it looks promising, but the result is not great.

Score
Dutch: 3
English: 4

Reading tip: Blogging: do it yourself or have the texts written?

What do the people in our network think?

Because we are very curious about how others view AI writers and whether they think AI writers will replace copywriters, we have launched a survey of people in our network. About one third of the 99 respondents had used an AI writer at some point.

have-you-used-an-ai-writer-before.jpeg

Full survey results:

 

The three most frequently mentioned AI writers are Jasper, Copy.ai and Rytr. On average, the AI writers got a 6 out of 10. The English-speaking respondents gave a lower average: 5.6 compared to 6.7 for the Dutch. We found this somewhat surprising as we expected a higher average for the English output than the Dutch because the English content has more input data.

what-grad-do-you-give-these-tools-on-average.jpeg

As an explanation of their scoring, many respondents wrote something along the lines of: ”Good to use as a basis, but you still have to optimise the texts.” They found the AI writers useful as a starting point, but as one respondent put it: “there is no soul in the texts.” Or: “Initially interesting, but not a brilliant copy, still a lot of editing yourself.” This corresponds to the experience we have from our own research.

The respondents mainly use AI writers for blogs, (SEO) articles, website texts and social media posts, mostly in English. Only 12% previously used AI writers for Dutch texts and 2% for German texts.

for-which-languages.jpeg

Are AI writers going to replace human writers?

The development of AI writers has only just begun. They will continue to improve in the coming years as we saw with machine translation. About 5 years ago, machine translations were not good at all, but they have improved a lot. They won't completely replace human translators just yet, but for quick correspondence or simple conversations, they already function well.

Based on our comparison research, we estimate that AI writers have not yet reached that stage and that they cannot replace copywriters for the time being. The respondents also indicated that they do not see this happening for some time. They argue that the output still requires a lot of fine-tuning and fact-checking, but above all that nothing can compete with human empathy, creativity and humour.

will-ai-writers-make-human-writers-obsolete-1.jpeg

Respondents who do not (yet) use AI writers: 

will-ai-writers-make-human-writers-obsolete-2.jpeg

But… never say never. Technology is developing rapidly! Of the respondents who think that AI writers will replace copywriters, more than half even think that this will happen within 3-5 years.

when.jpeg

One respondent explains: “If I see what they can already do in the initial stage, it will only get better and more advanced. That is good enough for 90% of the cases. You only need people for creative texts such as advertisements. The rest can [be written by] a machine.”

An important argument is, of course, that it is a lot cheaper to have content created by an AI writer. Someone in the study says about this: “It is not so much that AI can do it better, but it is cheaper and faster than a human. That doesn't mean the quality is getting better. Nothing like a good in-depth interview from a good journalist with an interesting guest. But standard texts will be written by AI.”

What does Google think of AI texts?

A single respondent suggested that Google might penalise AI-generated texts. Google's Search Advocate John Mueller also states that automatically generated texts violate Google's guidelines and may be considered spam. At the moment, Google does not seem to be actively working on this.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yx997SsiYlw

Conclusion: where is it going to?

It is certain that AI writers will become a tool in the toolbox of copywriters. The role of the human is going to change – they will write less themselves and edit more. Based on high-quality research carried out with the help of AI writers, content creators understand better what their target audience wants to read and can create even better content.

Using the text of the AI writer as a guide, human writers can then add their own ‘special sauce’ to create original and creative content. That way, punishment by Google is not an issue – as long as you don't publish directly generated texts, you’re OK.

It is a good idea for anyone involved in copywriting to keep an eye on developments in AI writing.

It is a good idea for anyone involved in copywriting to keep an eye on developments in AI writing. As one respondent wrote in the survey: “I follow a lot of copy.ai and am amazed that copywriters are 'sleeping' with regard to this development. (..) The revenue model/profession of copywriters is changing, make sure you are ahead of the pack.”

In any case, we follow it closely – because artificial copywriting is the future. We think it’s going to be more about making the work of copywriters easier though, not replacing them.

Need a copywriter? Try the text agency of the future!

This article was written in cooperation with Ilse Naves-Scheidel.

 ilse-naves-scheidel(1).jpeg

Writing texts that make you, as a reader, fly through easily. And preferably about innovative things and technology. That's Ilse's strength as a copywriter: making complex subjects understandable.
For 12 years, she worked as a content manager and IT business analyst for financial service providers. With that background in IT and finance and a great love for letters, she has been writing as a freelance copywriter for various companies since 2017, including CopyRobin.

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