How CMOs should respond to ChatGPT’s marketing impact

CMOs must urgently assess ChatGPT's impact on key marketing functions and steer the responsible use of AI.

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This article was co-authored by Nicole Greene.

ChatGPT has been taking over every social media feed and news headline since its debut in late 2022. The tool challenges the one trait humans always thought they would have over machines — creativity. 

As marketers explore this generative AI tool without restriction, CMOs must assess its impact along three key functions: content production, ideation and market research.

Assessing ChatGPTs impact on key marketing functions

1. Content production

Vendors have been touting AI’s ability to improve creative productivity by eliminating mundane tasks for years. Still, tools like ChatGPT have raised the bar by creating draft copy and briefs on par with interns or entry-level employees — potentially making their skills redundant. Staff should be sourced and evaluated on the ability to act as editors and supervisors for machine-generated marketing copy and proposals, such as agency creative briefs.

Relieved of first-draft writing tasks, they’ll need the editorial skills to turn generic prose into distinctive expressions of brand voice and business goals while catching anomalies. As basic creative tasks become operationalized, marketing teams can shift resources to more strategic work. 

2. Ideation

ChatGPT and its visual counterparts are powerful tools for creative brainstorming. Creative teams are rapidly developing new skills in “prompt engineering.” learning how to use language in chatbot sessions with ChatGPT to issue prompts. 

This skill will accelerate and broaden the scope of creative concepts that can be generated and tested, challenging traditional branding methodologies by encouraging out-of-the-box thinking that existing guidelines may not anticipate. 

Dig deeper: Does ChatGPT pose an existential threat to marketers?

3. Market research

ChatGPT is skilled at emulating customer personas in hypothetical interviews. While caution is warranted in mistaking its answers for actual field research, it can:

  • Clearly refine the design of surveys and focus studies by providing a baseline for testing hypotheses and methodologies.
  • Be directed to ask questions from a persona’s viewpoint.
    This may spark insights into key areas of research that are not initially obvious to marketers.

In addition, brands can use ChatGPT to gather and curate competitive information across messaging, product offerings, advertising and reviews (although its model is currently based on information available prior to 2022). But this also means competitors can do the same.

Dig deeper: Three things ChatGPT needs which only you can provide

Top ChatGPT considerations for marketers

Separate from data-related challenges and the possibility of “hallucinations” and wrong answers, CMOs must recognize numerous ethical and brand-related risks when planning for generative AI’s responsible use.

Gartner expects 70% of enterprise CMOs will identify accountability for the ethical use of AI among their top concerns by 2025. Misinformation, bias, copyright and transparency are all serious considerations in the ethical use of ChatGPT in marketing. 

As one example, ChatGPT, like the internet it learns from, lacks veracity. It’s trained to predict the content of an answer without evaluating its basis. This lack of truth-based context demands that brands continue to apply human oversight. 

Other brand-related cautions include:

1. Brand safety

Tools like ChatGPT are also likely to increase the volume of text produced by bots in social media with ill intent. This will escalate the need for organizations to monitor and respond to false and defamatory content, perhaps via a content authenticity function Gartner expects to be present in most marketing organizations by 2027.

Currently, ChatGPT is a complementary and partial alternative to search – not a replacement – since it focuses on generative approaches to answers rather than content discovery (this document, this sentence). Keep a close eye on how the increase in data in the training set and supervised learning continues to advance new versions of GPT.

Dig deeper: ChatGPT set to shake up search

3. Designed for consistency

ChatGPT’s out-of-the-box ability to produce consistent results limits the variability of its output. Attention to detail and human review of generated content are necessary to ensure that empathy, cultural awareness and perspective are provided to develop novel ideas.

3 near-term recommendations for CMOs

As ChatGPT and other generative AI tools become more mainstream, marketing organizations should act on talent, budget and strategy considerations in the nearer term.

1. Talent

Review staffing plans, skill sets and job descriptions to emphasize skills and experience with reviewing, editing and fact-checking text. From an agency perspective, ensure internal and external talent are up-to-speed on public AI usage policies and seek out creative developers familiar with ChatGPT API.

2. Budget

Free and low-cost tools like ChatGPT may be able to replace some costly features and functions supported by legacy martech applications and agency feeds, so work with IT to identify redundant capabilities and expect agency budgets for content production to drop.

3. Strategy

Accelerated content generation will put more pressure on distinct brand positioning as copy production explodes and more competitors rely on common models. Use newfound employee capacity to create diverse internal testing and review panels to speed up the evaluation of messaging, ads, social posts and other assets before committing to distribution. 

CMOs must steer the responsible use of AI

CMOs urgently need to compile a list of active use cases impacted by ChatGPT and collaborate with peers to establish policies and practical guidelines to steer its responsible use. Start with the basics as the possibilities of the software continue to get unpacked. 

For many organizations, leveraging custom models under IT governance, with an eye toward marketing’s pragmatic use cases, will yield the most transformative benefits.

ChatGPT marks a pivotal turning point in the role of generative AI in business and society. It may give way to newer products over time, but its capabilities will surely transform how people interact with technology.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Andrew Frank
Andrew Frank is VP Distinguished Analyst with Gartner for Marketing Leaders Practice. He specializes in best practices for data-driven marketing, including how organizations can use data to drive sales, loyalty, innovation, brand value and other business goals. He also focuses on emerging marketing technology and trends, including marketing applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, algorithmic marketing, and marketing in emerging environments such as metaverse and Web3. Frank also specializes in advertising technology and business trends. His research focuses on new opportunities in digital advertising leveraging mobile, social, video, and advanced TV platforms and channels, and utilizing advanced targeting, metrics, interactive design, and real-time ad operations.

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