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49% of Americans say AI will outmatch humans in creative ability, per YouGov/The Drum poll

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By Webb Wright | NY reporter

February 10, 2023 | 5 min read

A new survey conducted by The Drum and YouGov has shed light on the present state of AI awareness across the US. Here are the key findings – and their implications for marketers.

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ChatGPT became an overnight sensation following its launch in November 2022, reaching 1mn users in just five days. / Adobe Stock

Artificial intelligence (AI), as you’ve probably noticed, has been dominating headlines in recent months. Sparked in large part by the meteoric rise of platforms like ChatGPT and Midjourney, the marketing industry seems to have suddenly developed a tunnel vision focused on this new and radically transformative technology.

But according to a new poll conducted by The Drum in collaboration with market research company YouGov, a surprisingly broad swathe of Americans are completely unfamiliar with the AI-powered platforms that have such enamored marketers.

The poll, which surveyed 1,200 Americans across a broad set of demographics, found that of the 88% of respondents who had heard of AI, more than half (52%) had never heard of ChatGPT, Midjourney, DALL·E 2 or Lensa AI – all of which are AI models designed to generate various forms of original content. (Such AI models are often described as “generative AI,” but Sam Altman – CEO of OpenAI, the company behind the uber-popular ChatGPT – has stated that he isn’t fond of that phrase, suggesting that it could fall into disuse.)

The major upshot of that finding is this: While marketers can safely operate under the presumption that the vast majority of their audiences will have some familiarity with AI as such, it will still be important to clearly define a tool like ChatGPT when it’s being referenced in or integrated into a marketing campaign. Education is key - at least for the time being, while these tools are still relatively new. (ChatGPT was only launched in November.)

The poll also found that 47% of the respondents who are familiar with AI would be at least “a little disturbed” if they were to find out that their favorite ad had been generated by AI. There have yet to be any ads that AI has entirely created, but the recent spot from Ryan Reynolds’ Mint Mobile – the script for which was generated by ChatGPT - was a sobering demonstration of how close to such a reality we could actually be.

Just under half (49%) of respondents who are familiar with AI, furthermore, believe that the creative prowess of AI is likely to be vastly improved in the future. “About half of the respondents believe that AI will eventually outmatch humans in creative ability,” says Ray Martin, chief executive officer of YouGov.

Age, unsurprisingly, was a crucial variable in the poll. The younger the respondent, the more likely it is that he or she has at least some awareness of AI: roughly 18% of respondents ages 55 and over said they were not familiar with AI, compared to only 6% of their 18-to-34-year-old counterparts. Younger respondents also seem more ready and willing to embrace AI: 43% of 18-to-34-year-olds said they were comfortable with the idea of marketers using AI in the ad-creation process, compared to 15% of respondents ages 55 and over.

In light of that finding, marketers should generally expect the younger segment of any given audience to be more receptive to AI-related campaigns.

Another important finding: across the board, and somewhat surprisingly, Americans just don’t seem to be all that giddy with excitement about the major, mainstream AI models that are currently available. When asked to identify the model that they found to be most exciting (their options were ChatGPT, Lensa AI, DALL·E 2 and Midjourney), the majority (39%) said they “don’t find any of these generative AI models exciting.” Votes for ChatGPT, however, were a close second (31%).

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