Tech

Give Those Apps Some Notes and They are going to Write Emails for You

Michael Shuffet didn’t waste any keystrokes when responding to a message about the automated email writer he’s building. He tapped out “Yes 45m” and clicked a button marked “Generate email.” His app, Compose.ai, drafted a courteous three-sentence reply with a link to schedule a 45-minute call. Shuffet checked it over and clicked Send.

Compose is one of several automated writing tools built on striking new text-generation technology known as GPT-3, revealed in June by OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research institute. GPT-3 went viral this summer after people marveled at how it could fluently crank out memes, code, self-help blog posts, and Hemingway-style Harry Potter fanfic. WIRED and others showed that GPT-3 can also spout nonsense and hate, because its algorithms learned to generate text by digesting wide swaths of the internet.

Now, some entrepreneurs are harnessing GPT-3 to perform real work, like drafting emails or marketing copy. “Billions of people write email,” says Shuffet, a cocreator of Compose. “It’s a space that has not had much innovation for years.” Google’s Gmail will suggest ways to complete sentences and supply short, peppy replies to some emails—”Thanks so much!” But it doesn’t draft fuller messages.

Snazzy.ai, which launched to early testers last week, generates verbiage for web pages and Google ads, based on basic information about a campaign or brand. When supplied with keywords about WIRED and a phrase from its founding manifesto, Snazzy suggested marketing gloss with bits of robotic inspiration. One proffered Google ad included the coinage “geekspace,” a word that is rare online and has appeared on WIRED.com only twice, most recently eight years ago.

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Courtesy of Snazzy AI

Chris Frantz, a Snazzy cofounder and marketer by trade, says the service reduces the drudgery of creating an initial splurge of ideas to be honed into a fresh campaign. “The goal is to offload the somewhat monotonous job of writing the copy, and move to the editing part,” he says.

VWO, which helps companies measure the performance of marketing content, has tested GPT-3 against human-written material for clients including travel site Booking.com. Of six tests with statistically significant results, AI-generated copy gained more clicks or interactions twice, and human-authored copy performed better once. The remaining three matchups were tied. More tests are ongoing, but VWO founder Paras Chopra believes marketers will gravitate to auto-generated material because it speeds experimentation. “The more you can test, the higher the likelihood you end up impacting your business metrics,” he says.


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