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June 25, 2019

Bring on the AI overlords: from a content marketer

Artificial intelligence (AI). Just saying the words invokes visions of an apocalyptic future teeming with deadly machines like The Terminator or even software like The Matrix’s Agent Smith. At least that’s the dystopia the scaremongers are peddling. If the latest hype is anything to go by, AI will not only change life on earth as we know it, it will probably take your job too.

As an editor, content marketer and millennial, it appears my head is on the chopping block. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 20 per cent of business content will be authored by machines, and many are speculating that journalists will cease to exist. Add Elon Musk comparing AI to a demon, and even I’m spooked.

But I won’t pack up my desk just yet. Here’s why.

We’re surrounded by AI

Let’s be honest: this is nothing new. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation have been around for quite a while, and we’ve all been targeted by Facebook’s AI-applied targeted advertising and subject to Google AdWords’ AI-powered, automated bidding for years.

Your top picks on Netflix? AI technology fuels its recommendation engine. Apple’s personal assistant, Siri? She’s machine learning to better predict, understand and answer your questions. Google? Depends on AI to rank your search results.

But the machines haven’t taken over yet. Despite it trickling into everyday life, AI is still in its infancy. Instead of conjuring images of alien robots, we should really think of the technology as a baby Bicentennial Man in nappies – waiting for us to teach it.

AI is growing up fast

To be useful for content marketing, AI needs a mammoth amount of fresh, structured data.

Its power lies in its ability to analyse large data sets to reveal patterns and trends. Feed it enough high-quality data and it will be able to predict share prices or a human’s lifespan and, in some cases, even write content.

Natural language generation (NLG) is a type of AI software capable of producing coherent, readable text. NLG robo-journalists are already creating basic sports content and corporate earnings reports. But, as smart as it is, NLG isn’t truly independent – it needs very specific data sets and templates before it can write, and it can’t create anything genuinely new.

Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t use the technology. In the realm of content marketing, AI can gather, sort and make sense of oceans of data – something the industry is swimming in.

AI: Spotting trends, making predictions

Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you they’re ‘data driven’.

Sure, we’re data driven. We look at engagement metrics to tell us what’s working, and change things accordingly to make them work better and inform future decisions. But it’s generally retrospective.

A lot of what we do is still based on instinct. We still speak to real people. We still search online to understand what people are asking. We still study search volumes.

What we need is the ability to predict something before it needs to be changed. This is where the opportunity for AI is in content marketing right now.

Exciting stuff for a content marketer working in a media and data intelligence business. We’re already using our own AI to process seven million news items every day, at a rate of 234 stories per second.

With that much data, our software can make strong recommendations about what type of content we should be creating, and for whom. As it evolves (and learns), it should be able to spot trends and patterns early, informing communications strategies and helping businesses to maximise opportunity and minimise risk.

Humans and AI, living together

AI and predictive analytics will help content marketers understand who they should be talking to and what they should be saying, but it’s up to us to create the content.

AI relies on human data and intelligence to function and learn. At least for now, this is where its limitations lie.

Humans are still needed to create original work that connects with its audience at an emotional level. To completely replace a writer or content marketer, AI would need to have an opinion, think abstractly, be curious and show emotion.

So, while your inbox might be full of propaganda alluding to our impending cyberdoom, we’re not there yet.

However, we shouldn’t be naïve, as the way we work is being transformed. To stay in the game, we should spearhead the change rather than hiding in the corner.

I for one welcome working with our new robot overlords, and I urge you all to join me. As the machine said, “Come with me if you want to live.”

Disclaimer: This article was not written by a robot.

Paige Richardson, Isentia Strategy & Content

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The immediate challenge is not killer robots, its job replacement. If individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

The robots are coming. Although often spoken of in future tense, the truth is machine learning is well and truly here. Without realising, consumers interact with ‘smart’ technology at almost every touch point; from robotic vacuums to facial recognition technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to complete tasks faster, cheaper and – sometimes - more effectively than ever before.

In an economy that’s driven by speed and efficiency, it should come as no surprise that a computer’s ability to communicate at a trillion bits per second is favoured above the human capability of about 10 bits.

McKinsey recently reported that 40 per cent of work tasks can be automated using existing technology, prompting everyone from factory workers to lawyers and accountants to consider the threat of being replaced by robots as not just inevitable, but imminent.

For technologists, we are witnessing first-hand how this emerging field is transforming the companies we work for.

In my work at Isentia, we use machine learning to process seven million news items each day. Not long ago this was a task relegated performed solely by humans with the mind-numbing task of flipping through newspapers in search of stories that might relate to a client.

We have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible.

Today, machines trawl video, audio and digital content across over 5,500 new sites at a rate of 234 stories per second and present meaningful summaries to clients in real-time.

Whether a story breaks on Twitter and then spills across news platforms and onto television and radio, machine learning can track and analyse how a story evolves with 99 per cent accuracy.

While AI is revolutionising the way that we work, the impact is far greater for those in the tech industry. In our mission to develop software that can learn complex problems without needing to be taught how, the success of the AI industry ultimately comes down to technology professionals: our ability to automate, and the pace at which we expand the field of machine learning.

With an annual growth rate of 19.7 per cent percent (predicted to be worth $15.3 billion by 2019), it’s safe to say our foot is well and truly on the pedal. While this relies greatly on our technical capabilities, it is something that challenges many of us ethically: what set of values should AI be aligned with?

Two of the greatest technologists of our times, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, have spoken about both the potential benefit and the harm that an AI arms race could deliver. An eradication of disease is not unfathomable, but nor is a threat to humanity. They hold grave concerns as to whether or not robots can be controlled against misuse or malfunction.

While thought provoking, the immediate challenge is not killer robots, it’s job replacement. Employment may not seem like an ethical problem, but if individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak. While the phrase ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ has forged its way into the 9-to-5 vernacular, for most people, jobs create a huge sense of personal and professional satisfaction… not to mention a means to pay bills.

An apocalypse might be somewhat melodramatic, however I do agree that it is important to consider just how closely we should merge biological and digital intelligence.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here? It’s both exciting and terrifying. The last time we experienced a revolution like this was in the early 1900s when cars, telephones and the airplane all emerged at once.

Contrary to the hype, there lies an enormous opportunity for humans to work with artificial intelligence, not be replaced by it.

Make no mistake: at some level every job can be carried out by a robot. But there are certain jobs, particularly in technology, that require decision making, planning or coding software.

While computers do a brilliant job of executing well-defined activities - such as telling us the fastest route to get from home to work - it is safe to say that humans are an essential component of goal setting, interpreting results, humour, sarcasm and implementing common sense checks.

The most difficult jobs to automate are those that involve managing and developing people. While in this industry most of our jobs are safe (for now), we should heed the advice of Musk and Hawkings and protect those outside our field by proceeding with caution. How then to facilitate human and robots working together harmoniously without the workforce morphing into cyborgs? The secret is to not sail out farther we can row back.

As technologists, we also have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible. It's the best, and most ethical, way to prepare for the inevitable advent of AI.

First publish in CIO New Zealand

Andrea Walsh, CIO

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Blog
It’s time to slow down the AI arms race

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

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Isentia, a leading provider of media intelligence and analysis services, is proud to announce the launch of “The Conversation of Sport: Representation of Women in Sports News Coverage,” in partnership with the Office of Women in Sport and Recreation. This research aims to bring awareness to gender inequality in sports, and attention to address the underrepresentation of women in sports media.

The purpose of this research is to establish a baseline of the current coverage of women’s sport and women in sport in Victoria, providing crucial data to advocate for improved representation moving forward. Isentia's expertise in media monitoring and analysis plays a pivotal role in gathering independent, transparent data to assess the current landscape accurately.

"Equal representation in sport is key in shaping the way we view the world…This research represents a key step forward in reducing the gap in coverage for women in sports news. It directly supports the media and sporting organisations with independent, transparent data of current performance in this space.," said Ros Spence Minister for Community Sport

This research shows that the coverage of women’s sport in the media remains significantly lower than that of men’s sport, with only 15% of sports news coverage in Victoria focusing on women’s sport in 2022-23. Isentia's collaboration with Change Our Game aims to highlight this disparity by empowering media outlets with the data and tools necessary to increase the visibility of women in sports news.

Isentia and its partners envision a future where strong representation of women in sports media contributes to the professionalisation of women’s elite sport, dismantles limiting stereotypes, and promotes inclusivity at both the elite and community sport levels. This collaboration sets the stage for a more equitable and diverse sports media landscape, where the stories and achievements of women athletes are celebrated, amplified and contribute to a stronger ecosystem for women's sport.

"Through our partnership with OWSR, we are hopeful that this research will shine a light on the current state of play of sports news, and the impact this can have on the support and participation in women’s sport. While the findings are confronting, having this baseline will help drive positive change." said Ngaire Crawford for Director of Insights and Research, Isentia. 

"We believe that by working together, we can drive meaningful change and create a more inclusive sporting environment for women and girls everywhere."

What We Hope For the Future:

Through our partnership with Change Our Game and the Victorian Government, we hope to pave the way for a future where women in sport are celebrated and recognized on equal footing with their male counterparts in the media. By increasing the visibility and representation of women in sports media, we aim to inspire the next generation of athletes, journalists and content creators and drive positive change towards a more inclusive and equitable sporting landscape. Together, we can create a world where every athlete, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

About Change Our Game:

Change Our Game is an initiative by the Victorian Government aimed at achieving gender equality in sport and active recreation. Through advocacy, funding, and partnerships, Change Our Game works to address systemic barriers and promote inclusivity and diversity across all levels of sport.

About Isentia:

Isentia is a leading provider of media intelligence and analysis services, helping organisations make informed decisions based on actionable insights from media data. With a comprehensive suite of solutions, including media monitoring, analysis, and insights, Isentia empowers clients to stay ahead in an ever-evolving media landscape.

Select to be taken to Change Our Game's full report

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Blog
Isentia co-launches report: Representation of Women in Sports Coverage 2022-23

Isentia, a leading provider of media intelligence and analysis services, is proud to announce the launch of “The Conversation of Sport: Representation of Women in Sports News Coverage,” in partnership with the Office of Women in Sport and Recreation. This research aims to bring awareness to gender inequality in sports, and attention to address the […]

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The story around supermarket prices has been evolving for a number of months, finally reaching an inflection point as the Woolworth’s CEO appeared in a challenging interview with Four Corners and then announced his upcoming retirement only two days later.This chain of events underscores the critical importance of understanding the connections made by broadcast media, as they can significantly influence public perceptions and shape the narrative surrounding key industry players.

https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicRelations/comments/1aukych/australia_woolies_ceo_interview_mishap/?share_id=S-JDSwqI-UlHg_mIeTlkg&utm_content=2&utm_medium=ios_app&utm_name=ioscss&utm_source=share&utm_term=1

It was only the latest in a series of media items to seize Australia’s attention, and cast the nation’s supermarkets into something of a PR and Comms crisis.

And yet, viewing events through this framing also only gives a partial picture. As the discussion surrounding the impact of supermarkets on the rising cost of living intensifies, we've observed a notable surge in the usage of terms such as 'shrinkflation' and 'skimpflation'. Reaching back even further, we can see how the topics attained a gradually greater place on Australian news and social channels. Shrinkflation and skimpflation are tactics employed by supermarkets during economic challenges. Shrinkflation involves reducing product sizes while maintaining prices, subtly passing on costs to consumers. Skimpflation maintains product sizes but compromises on quality to preserve profit margins. These strategies often frustrate supermarket shoppers, especially during economic strains like inflation.

Clearly, the topic has become ubiquitous. But if we want to understand how information and perceptions have been communicated to mainstream Australian audiences, then it becomes vitally important to pay particular attention to broadcast media. 

Broadcast media (which includes television, radio and podcasts)  plays a pivotal role in shaping public discourse and influencing perceptions, particularly on pressing issues such as the cost of living crisis. 

Using Isentia to monitor these data sources, we gain valuable insights into their contribution to consumer attitudes. From identifying which organisations are most associated with the issue to pinpointing key public figures and preferred channels within radio and TV, broadcast media monitoring allows us to understand the complex dynamics that shape public opinion.

It’s the oldest of these media types which accounts for the most mentions of the supermarket crisis. Beyond reporting updates on the senate inquiry and government actions, radio excels in facilitating in-depth conversations between hosts and listeners, which surfaces more individual consumer stories than television or podcasts can match.

ABC's predominant coverage of the topic corresponds with the network's content strategy. Major programs such as the Supermarket Four Corners special and podcasts like The Briefing attract substantial listenership and garner attention from other channels. Channel 7, in addition to delivering key news updates, focuses on the shopper experience within supermarkets, shedding light on everyday challenges faced by audiences, such as navigating shrinkflation and skimpflation tactics.

Understanding the majority share of broadcast channels within this topic is important as it reflects who has the loudest voice, and is most persistently advancing a certain narrative or way of framing the situation. 

Coles and Woolworths dominate the conversation, reflecting their prominent presence in the retail landscape. Their widespread accessibility and familiarity to consumers make them prime subjects for discussion in the context of rising costs and economic pressures. 

Conversely, Aldi and IGA, while still significant players in the grocery market, may receive comparatively less focus in these discussions. Aldi's reputation for offering lower-priced alternatives and IGA's decentralised business model, with independently owned stores, may also contribute to their reduced presence in conversations about supermarket practices during times of economic strain. 

Each channel and network approaches discussions about supermarket groups differently. While Coles and Woolworths understandably dominate each station's broadcasts, the precise balance (and the time afforded to Adi and IGA) is revealing.

For instance, 4BC has encouraged audiences to diversify their shopping habits, with one 4BC broadcaster highlighting that "Aldi and IGA are actually doing more than the other two to really help enormously with the cost of living."

In the discourse on supermarket practices during the cost of living crisis, a number key figures emerge across broadcast channels. Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, is predictably prominent on just about every channel, particularly broadcaster 2SM. 

All of them, that is, apart from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), which spotlights Allan Fels, an economist and former ACCC chair who has analysed price gouging by major corporations. Other notable politicians mentioned include Treasurer Jim Chalmers, Craig Emerson, Steven Miles, and David Littleproud. 

Media's focus on these figures is crucial for shaping public discourse and policy responses amid economic pressures. While supermarkets are often discussed as a key antagonist in the cost of living crisis, they are increasingly being viewed in the context of potential solutions, particularly regarding government policy to regulate supermarket giants.

At the same time, focus does not only fall on the prominent individuals driving business decisions and policymaking. Country Hour (NSW), for instance, focused a story on cherry grower Michael Cuneo, who ceased selling to supermarkets after he made a financial loss on a shipment of fruit. And it was this story that achieved the greatest media reach of any radio content on the topic.  

Clearly then, the topic has not played out in any one way across any one channel. The prominence of key figures and top broadcast channels in this conversation underscores the importance of understanding how media coverage impacts public discourse and regulatory decisions. Isentia's broadcast capabilities offer unparalleled insight into the role of broadcast media in shaping the narrative surrounding supermarket practices. By harnessing Isentia's monitoring and analysis tools, organisations can gain deep insights into how influential discourse and coverage can impact an industry. 

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Blog
How Australian broadcast media has shaped the cost of living crisis narrative

The story around supermarket prices has been evolving for a number of months, finally reaching an inflection point as the Woolworth’s CEO appeared in a challenging interview with Four Corners and then announced his upcoming retirement only two days later.This chain of events underscores the critical importance of understanding the connections made by broadcast media, […]

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The rising cost of living is not just an issue in Australia but a global concern that affects countless individuals, with people facing the daunting challenge of affording basic necessities while striving to maintain a decent standard of living. It’s a topic that can touch a nerve for many, but it’s also a dynamic conversation that drives the media, public opinion, and individual experiences. 

What’s driving the cost of living concerns?

A range of factors are driving the cost of living in Australia, with some having more of an impact than others. Using data from our sister company, Pulsar, inflation (as the overarching issue) is gaining the most media coverage as the price of goods and services continues to increase over time.

The top drivers of the cost of living
Source: Pulsar TRAC, 1 Jan - 30 Jun 2023

The chart also shows the rise in energy costs, interest rates, and housing prices (rent and mortgage prices) as other main drivers for cost of living concerns. As energy prices continue to increase, households are feeling the pinch as their expenses soar. And when it comes to housing, whether it's the skyrocketing rent or the burden of increasing mortgage payments, many individuals and families are finding it increasingly challenging to secure affordable accommodation.

Let’s take a closer look at these topics.

Energy fuels the discussion

Energy sources and prices are hot topics in the media, impacting households, affordability, and vulnerable populations. But a troubling discrepancy emerged in the May 2023 Budget: businesses got more attention than households in energy relief measures. Surprisingly, only 13% of media coverage focused on the struggles faced by individuals, while a whopping 29% centered around the politics and policies of Australian businesses. This raises valid concerns about whether the media is truly addressing the needs of Australian communities.

The energy narrative and the cost of living

Sectors feeling the heat of media scrutiny

Media outlets play a crucial role in shaping public opinion and influencing the cost of living. When it comes to specific energy sectors, they have become the subject of intense media scrutiny. Data from our Energy Transition report shows that coal and gas are in the hot seat, with a significant portion of media coverage - 43% for coal and 26% for gas - dedicated to discussing these fossil fuels. This media focus highlights the ongoing conversations surrounding the environmental impact of coal and gas, their contribution to climate change, economic considerations, and the urgent need for policy changes to transition to cleaner energy sources.

Feeling the pinch

The cost of living crisis goes beyond numbers; it’s intertwined with the housing market and interest rates. Escalating housing costs, fueled by rising prices and interest rates, can put immense strain on household budgets, leading to financial stress and widening economic inequality.

But the conversation doesn't stop there. The story behind the data is clear: the cost of living is an issue that affects us all, and the media plays a crucial role in shaping and amplifying the conversation. Google searches and social media activity reflect people’s ongoing concern about the weight of living expenses, especially around RBA announcements. Anxiety emerges as a dominant theme, with a staggering 93% of media coverage highlighting the keyword.

cost of living comparisons
Source: Isentia (print, online, broadcast), Pulsar TRENDS (Twitter), Google Trends, May 1 - July 30 2023

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows living costs have reached an all-time high. Over the past 12 months, all living cost indices have risen between 7.1 percent and 9.6 percent for all households, compared to a 7 percent annual increase in inflation.

The difference largely stems from living cost indices taking into account mortgage interest charges. Housing and interest rates have been the largest contributors to the rise in the cost of living, with home owners feeling the pinch from rising mortgage payments and renters feeling the brunt of it. According to the RBA, the average mortgage size in Australia has increased by 38% in the past decade. According to Pulsar data, unsurprisingly, 84% of Australians are left feeling sad about the cost of living. 

Influential figures shaping the conversation

Data from the Pulsar Platform gives a visual snapshot of how several Australian and foreign individuals and groups are influencing the conversation, including politicians, economists, consumer advocacy groups, and business owners.

who is talking about the cost of living
Source: Pulsar TRAC, 1 Jan - 31 May 2023. Influential people and organisations

Unsurprisingly, the Australian Labor Party (ALP) holds significant influence when it comes to shaping the cost of living conversation in Australia’s political landscape. As the governing body in Australian Parliament, their policies and initiatives subjectively bear the everyday Australian in mind, aiming to tackle the affordability challenges that many face. The ALP resonates with citizens worried about rising living costs due to its focus on income inequality, social justice, and fair economic policies. But are they doing enough?

Treasurer Jim Chalmers, along with other influential ALP members including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Chris Bowen, and Mick de Brenni, are leading the conversation in an effort to alleviate living expenses and promote income growth. Despite their desire to achieve these outcomes, the public outcry on Twitter shows the frustration Australians are feeling. The Prime Minister and Treasurer are in the firing line, with the public urging more action on the cost of living crisis.

Jim chalmers and the cost of living
online sentiment about the cost of living

How media intelligence can help you navigate the cost of living

Advocacy efforts can be significantly enhanced through the use of social listening and media monitoring. These tools allow you to effectively navigate the dynamic narratives surrounding the cost of living. By tailoring your advocacy approach, you can foster a more equitable and sustainable solution that brings positive change to communities and influences public opinion.

Additionally, by staying well-informed about the ongoing public discourse and trending discussions related to the cost of living, you can develop compelling communication strategies that effectively inform and engage your stakeholders.

Curious about how media intelligence can enhance your communication strategies to connect with your audience? Request a demo here, and our expert team will reach out to help you develop your communication strategies.

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Blog
The Story Behind the Data: Navigating the Cost of Living

The rising cost of living is not just an issue in Australia but a global concern that affects countless individuals. Within our shores, people are facing the daunting challenge of affording basic necessities while striving to maintain a decent standard of living. It’s a topic that can touch a nerve for many, but it’s also a dynamic conversation that drives the media, public opinion, and individual experiences.

Ready to get started?

Get in touch or request a demo.