September 19, 2023

Navigating AI in Media: Unpacking Risks and Key Considerations for Your Business

By Heather Allerdice-Gerow

Sr. Director, Industry Leader for Media Portfolio

AI has captured consumers’ attention this year, as tools like ChatGPT have exhibited unprecedented growth rates. With so much popularity among consumers, media companies are looking for ways in which they can leverage generative AI within their business strategy.

It can be very appealing to jump on the AI bandwagon. Before diving in head first, it helps to assess the risks of AI and any other considerations. Here are the key questions media companies need to ask as they navigate the complicated world of AI.

Is AI relevant to my business?

AI can help with some of the media industry’s biggest challenges. There are also applications that many media enterprises can put into use quickly. But before any of that happens, leadership has to ask why they want to adopt AI in any form – or better yet, whether or not AI is truly needed.

Decisions around AI adoption and investment should focus on differentiating a brand, not just improving it. This is something that the media company National Journal considers for all of its products.

Is AI going to be part of a consumer-facing product? If yes, then will that product drive revenue? How soon? Is the business looking to adopt a simple, fun tool that customers can enjoy? There is certainly value in keeping an audience engaged with a media brand, but generative AI’s initial rise may be slowing down. By the time a fun product gets off the ground, it may not be that novel any more. Is that worth the cost, or could resources be allocated elsewhere?

Will AI be part of an internal product? The same questions apply. When building out these products, it’s important to remember the product mindset.

Who is going to manage the AI?

It’s worth pointing out that for all of the hype, AI is just a tool. It is not a product unto itself. Businesses can’t simply decide that they are going to “adopt AI” and blow past the first question above. AI needs to be applied to some use within the business, whether that’s customer-facing or internal.

And because AI is merely a tool, it requires human intervention. That can come in so many forms, including product leads, engineers, quality control, editors, and users.

If AI is used for an internal product, someone needs to monitor whether or not the AI is doing the desired job. Say AI is used to improve on-site search. It will likely require some troubleshooting and adjustment to get things running smoothly. Someone within the organization must be responsible.

Meanwhile, generative AI only works with human inputs. If AI will be used for content creation, then someone needs to guide the AI in generating that content. There also needs to be an editor, because, as we’ll get to below, AI-generated content is not error-free, and that can have a negative impact.

Can AI harm my business?

While the media space is ripe with opportunities where AI can help a business, it’s worth examining the ways in which AI can create issues.

The availability and efficacy of ChatGPT is certainly appealing, but it hides the danger for media companies using the open-source AI solution. The problem comes down to ownership and security. These free platforms own the data, queries, and outputs, presenting an issue for companies looking to build on top of them. Any data that goes into these platforms becomes the property of the platforms, which can result in painful leaks.

Any output is also the property of the platform. If the plan is for a media company to use AI to generate content, then the media company may not own that content.

There are also lots of considerations around how AI-generated content is received by your audience. A news publisher may find more efficiency having AI generate articles, but the company needs to know its audience well enough to understand if this will be well received. AI systems have limitations and can generate inaccurate information. Publishing errors, without human intervention, damages a media company’s reputation.

AI-generated content can also impact how users arrive at your content in the first place. There are still questions about whether or not AI content should be ranked in search results, or in how it will impact search engine optimization (SEO). We do know that Google is working on tools that help identify AI-generated content. Any potential negative impact to SEO could be devastating for a publisher or media company, so it’s critical to know the latest before any experiments.

Answering your questions

Hopefully the questions here have you thinking in more detail about how AI might be used in your media business, or if it’s even right for you.

Here at 3Pillar we’re continuing to monitor the latest developments in AI and identify how media companies can apply AI to build breakthrough products that transform their business. To get started on a conversation about how AI can apply to your business, contact us.