AI and the Media & Publishing Industry Q&A - Pt3

By: Rich Fairbairn, 23 February 2023

A futuristic 3d scene of walls of futuristic monitors running text

Concluding the Di5rupt's Mx3 Leadership interview with industry leaders about the effect and outlook of the rising use of AI tools in the publishing sector.

Q: Thinking about Glide specifically, how do you think about AI integrations with the platform?

For us this breaks down to how we use AI within GPP, and also how we allow customers to use other 3rd party AI tools alongside GPP.

In terms of AI inside GPP – the closer you look, the more possibilities you see. The whole point of GPP is to remove friction from content businesses, so they can focus on what they are best at. Within that development objective, AI assistance for key tasks and outcomes is a natural addition so it’s not a fundamental rethinking of anything from our perspective.

Our responsibility is to think 2-3 years down the line on behalf of publishers, who should expect us and providers like us to be hard at work on exploiting these new AI tools. And we are, just as lots of our customers are already using AI and ML tech.

That applies equally to integrating with 3rd party tools. One enormous advantage a headless CMS or SaaS like ours has compared to traditional CMS is that all these new AI products are being built on the most modern principles of microservices, APIs, and interoperable formats: that’s what GP has been architected to exploit, so it’s a fantastic match for us. In layman’s terms, if your CMS is an old clunker, adding AI integrations is going to be of limited benefit.

Q: And more generally, what are some things publishers will see change with how content is managed from a technology perspective?

I think this is really a question about where and how AI tools sit alongside human workflows. Certainly for the next 5-10 years we would expect the shape of traditional newsrooms and content operations to be much the same as now, but with AI tools giving help to authors and producers along each stage of the content journey, and improving website experiences for audiences and commercial teams. They should be freeing up time and adding value.

For publishers worried about development costs and difficulties, I actually think they’ll have much less to do to implement all this than they fear because it will in fact be their vendors and partners who are using AI to improve their supplied services and products. Sit back and wait for it all to come to you may not be a bad strategy (if you have good suppliers that is!)

That means us from the CMS side, smoothing off friction in content creation and leveraging intelligence within the platform to do much more for users and commercial and SEO teams. It means people like Getty doing tons more within image management and search and metadata. It means paywall partners helping craft more intelligent offers and subscription bundling. It means better commercial deals, better ad targeting, better data on your audiences and so on. Countless little things that add up.

Of course there will be those all-new publishing operations created from scratch in an AI-first model whose workflows and structure don’t look anything like a current publisher. It would be naive to think that there will not be a rise in this kind of content business. The hard part to predict is how big or influential they will be: they will stand or fall on what they offer their audiences and grabbing market share. Once they are established and accepted, there will be no going back from them.


Q: Lastly, what would you advise people concerned about their jobs becoming obsolete? What should they do to remain relevant?

I guess this is the 800lb gorilla sitting on an elephant in the corner of the room: will AI in publishing sweep away publishing’s people?

I don’t think we are in a position to talk any more deeply than this than the likes of the World Economic Forum and Harvard and others who do studies on AI. The general consensus is that more jobs will be created than will be replaced, and I tend to believe that will be the case for publishing too.

AI needs managing, it needs training, it needs improving, it needs redirecting, it needs overruling, it needs fixing, all things that will be turned over to people to do. And the better you are at those things, the more likely you are to find a better space for yourself within an AI-driven publishing future. And all those things need an understanding of content and audiences, and specifically your content and your audiences.

What I think will be swept away are tasks – boring repetitive tasks that can be automated and removed from people’s responsibility. Instead, they will contribute higher level thinking and effort to the overall level of content they make, and to their business’s decision making.

Why should a highly-qualified journalist be spending large amounts of time finessing SEO for multiple channels when a bot could do it in milliseconds? For a writer, is their time best spent on captioning that 7th picture in a gallery, or instead being able to send a breaking news story much quicker?

Why should a producer be burrowing into picture libraries for a slightly better image to avoid using the same picture again and again, when a bot could pre-fetch 10 that are perfect and never been used before, and ensure the metadata is complete too?

So across the spectrum of content business roles, at a high level what AI will be doing is allowing them to compete better and with less low-value drag from the kind of tasks we have all secretly wanted to be able to automate anyway: the dull but necessary.

And what about the content itself? For sure, photographers and artists are seriously considering what image- and video-generating AI will mean for them, and it makes sense that writers will too.

I think the landscape will be reshaped, but ultimately people still have this unique ability to know what other people will find interesting, and so far no-one has an AI which can beat humans for that attribute.

If you look at TikTok, which could easily be described as an AI-driven business, their AI and algorithms calculate (better than anyone else!) what things their users want to see: the AIs still rely on the human creators, and still rely on humans consuming the content to create the signals of what is popular. The AI just measures what us humans like and gives us more of it, very quickly.

What I’d say is that yes there will be AI content, but there will also be more space for non-AI content because it will be better, more interesting, more useful, and have a value as a result.

Previous parts in this series

Part One

Part Two

To see the full interview, visit the Di5rupt MxLeadership site here.

The full report can be downloaded here.