Last month, Chinese mega-publisher Alibaba unveiled their own virtual copywriter. It’s a computer program that they claim can generate 20,000 words of copy per second. Their promise to advertisers is that having an AI copywriter in their back pocket will save them time and, more importantly, save them a ton of money because they won’t have to pay a real person to write their sales copy for them.

We call hogwash, And here’s why:

An AI copywriter won’t take its time.

Alibaba’s proof point for their creation’s efficacy is that consumers couldn’t tell the difference between a human-written piece of text and the AI copywriter’s writing. We’d challenge Alibaba to put their robot’s copy against a skilled copywriter’s work. Because as we’ve said a million times before on this blog, half of writing is knowing when to put the proverbial pencil down. Just because you can write 20,000 words in a second doesn’t mean you should. It’s about finding the right words to drive action. The fact that Alibaba’s AI can generate 20,000 words an hour is like a cook who says they can pump out 200 grilled chicken and veggie plates an hour. Do you really think the meat in any of those mass-produced meals is going to be grilled to perfection? Will you get that quintessential carrot crunch?

Most importantly, if you owned a restaurant and you knew a Zagat critic was coming in that night, would you want to give them one of the 200, or would you take your time and cook something up that was just perfect? Right.

So yes, you’ll save time and money in the creation. But you’ll lose money every time a consumer doesn’t choose your product or service because your copy is blah.

An AI copywriter can’t account for audience

Sure an AI copywriter can write all day about the product it’s given. But as any good copywriter knows, the product is secondary to the customer benefit. “What it is and what it does” pales in comparison to “why should I want this and what will it do for me on an emotional level?” You can’t just program this kind of understanding into a bot — it comes from years of experience resonating with people and moving needles, knowing what works and what doesn’t. And it comes from understanding what people respond to today as opposed to what they may have responded to last year. If you were running a campaign to middle America, you’d probably speak very differently today than you may have at this time two years ago.

Again, you’ll save time and money on the front end, but it’ll cost you dearly on the back end.

An AI copywriter won’t understand your feedback

Copywriting is an iterative process. It’s a partnership between the client and the copywriter to get the message and the tone right.
As we explain to our clients, they know their business better than we do and we rely on them to steer us in the right direction. We listen to their voices and the passion they have for specific things over other things. And as a client, you’d expect to have direct access to your copywriter. You won’t get that with a robot. And you certainly won’t get the level of attention from a robot that you’d get from a real person.

Save time? Sure. Save money? Maybe. Save hassle. Not on your life.

Alibaba, stick to world retail domination

Ali (can we call you Ali?), you wrote the book on eCommerce. You should stick to that. When it comes to writing the copy for that book, leave it to the experts.