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I recently had the pleasure of attending Content Marketing World in Washington D.C, alongside my wonderful co-workers and peers at Velir. This was my first CM World and it did not disappoint! I typically find myself at technology-focused conferences so it was a nice change of pace to be surrounded by topics that, in general, non-technical people would be interested in, and it spared me from the usual scenario of setting up shop next to our direct competitors, j/k. No offense folks…

There are two key takeaways that I’d like to share with you that I learned by attending some of the keynotes, walking around, and listening to our own Jill Robeson’s talk. In a nutshell, I learned that:

  • People like what they know, even if they want to pretend that they like new things, and
  • Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, but won’t replace us anytime soon

I went to Derek Thompson’s talk (writer and editor of the Atlantic) called “The Secrets of Hit Making.” He did a fantastic job at highlighting the history of trends we all know ranging from movies, cars, and even outer space, but then landed on a super interesting topic of “first names.” It turns out that while everyone wants to be original, we like some blend of familiarity. This is how first names start to trend. For example, there was a boom all around the same time with names that start with “Lat” such as Latonya, Latoya, Laticia, Latashia, and so forth. It can also be generational, so people now who had grandparents with the name “Emma” for example, are the reason we are seeing a resurgence of that name. It’s a trend that is starting to repeat.

Think about it. We like finding new music, but in that end-of-year summary that Spotify gives you, there are one or two songs that you listened to a LOT more than others. Derek also talked about Spotify’s product “Discovery Weekly”; a feature that is supposed to only play new songs related to your taste. He found out that it actually had a huge bump in popularity when a bug in the algorithm started sneaking in songs that people had already listened to but were mixed in with the playlist of new material. As someone who likes new restaurants, but still goes to the same three 80% of the time I go out to eat, I get it. Well said Derek, and nice job exposing that if we want to create a hit, sneak in something familiar.

Another topic that was literally everywhere at CM World, was AI. There were vendors selling AI tools, talks about AI, and even keynote Elizabeth Banks (Actress, Director; Hunger Games, Charlie’s Angels, Pitch Perfect 2, Cocaine Bear) talked about AI in her presentation. But she had an interesting take on it and made a good point. AI’s only inputs, the only thing it has learned, are things that we feed into it or have already created somehow. She said something around the concept that if you used the history of successful films over the past 50 years, and AI leveraged that to generate new movie ideas, most of what it would create would be movies about men fighting each other. Good point Elizabeth. At the heart of it, I think what she was driving at is that AI is helpful at organizing large amounts of data and presenting them through user-friendly interfaces, but that true creativity, and the evolution of creativity, still requires a human touch.

But the AI front wasn’t all doom and gloom, or jokes about Skynet. In fact, quite the opposite. There were many practical applications for AI at the conference. One application that I thought was interesting was using AI to generate new content formats based on one input. For example, if you just did a great webcast, but now want to do a news piece, write a blog, hit social, and create a case study, AI could generate those pieces for you. Ten pieces of new content for the effort of creating one!

There were tons of other exciting ways AI was being used in video, writing, and business process automation. Literally, almost every presentation had some reference to AI as a talking point.

I’m excited to share this blog post not only with you but with our amazing team of content strategists, writers, and digital experience platform experts at Velir. If you are interested in learning more about how AI might be useful to your organization, want to talk shop about your digital experience, or simply want to trade Spotify playlists please reach out to us!

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