Marketers, and by extension, brands, face many challenges today. And one of the biggest challenges is gaining mental and physical availability—getting customers to think about your brand and whether they can get their hands on it when it is top of mind.

More time does not equal more attention.

We may have more of the consumer’s time than the TV age, with people spending on average 5 hours per day on their screens, but getting noticed is getting increasingly harder as scroll speeds increase and content creators proliferate. Online noise is getting louder, and we’re fighting for attention.

The actual attention span for scrollable media is around 2.5 seconds. Thereafter, it plummets by 40% in the next second and then continues to fall.

The Perceived Need for Virality and Clicks

With those numbers, it’s no wonder that marketers have had to resort to harvesting attention by producing click-bait headlines and content that often turns out to be distinctly underwhelming, misleading, or just leaves a bad impression on the consumer.

Competing for clicks combined with the need to be memorable, relevant, or go viral has opened the already cluttered online realm to marketers taking more significant risks with their online content and publishing practices.

A practical example:

Imagine seeing the following headline: “Price of luxury watches jumps by 10,000%.” But when you read the actual article, it includes “…prices have risen 10,000% since they were first introduced in the 1960s.”

This practice may affect your trust in the brand or publisher, and you’ll be more wary of future clicks on these headlines.

It’s still all about brand trust.

In this new world, being relevant to consumers gets harder, and being trusted gets even harder. Trust is not bestowed on big brands by younger generations freely. They prefer aligning themselves with brands that match their values and ethos, and trust follows once the brand has proven itself.

While influencers have been relatable and could churn out new content at speed, there seems to be a slight decline in trust in influencers with the rise of de-influencing, posing another hurdle for brands and marketers alike.

The immediacy, relevance, and cultural connectedness that consumers want from their screen time needs to feel organic and unpolished, right from the brand for some, while others still prefer following influencers for the content they have gotten so used to.

Brand Relevancy for Gen Z and Beyond

There are structural solutions to these challenges for big brands, and at the heart of this is getting the brand positioning right.

As the Gen Z cohort ages and starts to earn and spend, we may see that the brands we expect them to start using will not be the ones they actually start using because they aren’t relevant to them. From the brand side, this seems to be a major concern; there is a sense that Gen Z is fundamentally different and may not pick up the same habits as their predecessors.

Reaching global audiences within constraints

Generative AI is not the panacea for all, but with the right mindset towards it, it can help brands and marketers break through constraints and get a step ahead of competitors.

Marketers always work within the constraints of money and time, which can limit their ambitions. Budgets tend not to increase much for established brands; if anything, it goes the other way. And when planning creative assets, there is a limit to what teams can produce within those constraints.

There is a limit to how far they can go in showing different relevant creative assets that audiences can relate to across moments, occasions, and seasons. There are constraints at the individual market level and bigger constraints when managing a global brand.

How can a global brand manager possibly create assets that look and feel relevant to each of their 50 markets? There are cultural nuances and differences, and spaces physically differ. British homes look different from French homes; they look different from Nordic homes, and so forth.

Audiences want to see content that is relevant to them, hence the kind of anodyne playbooks featuring generic talent or generic locations and overused stock images that won’t feel really relevant to anyone, and it may just cost you that scroll without a pause.

So, how can generative AI help?

In four ways, as we see it, with the fourth being the most important, so keep reading.

First, make no bones about it; it is much less expensive. An AI image can be tailor-made at a fraction of the cost of a shoot, with up to 80–90% savings. And these images can deliver incredible results (see below).

Over the past months, the quality levels of generative AI tools have grown exponentially. A mere six months ago, AI-generated people often had abnormalities like seven fingers or one leg. Now, they are mostly indistinguishable from real people.

asian woman smiling at outdoor scene
AI images, generated for Beauty Hub Philippines.

There is an important caveat. Generative AI tools need humans—talented, creative humans—to conjure great content into existence. Put an average person in front of MidJourney and you won’t be impressed, but put some talented AI art directors in front, who have creative visualisation skills and the ability to translate that into prompts, and the whole output can be world-class.

Second, it is much faster. ‘Production’ in a day or two instead of weeks or months. This can enable highly reactive content. We are already seeing generative AI being used to publish on-trend content within a day or two for many brands and seeing impressive results.

Third, it drives higher asset performance. Because you can produce more, you can produce and test more variants and do pre-flight media testing to help hone your messaging.

But fourth, and most importantly, it can get you closer to your consumers. Building higher brand relevance and trust and, in the first instance, grabbing consumer attention more successfully. Because you give consumers content that they relate to more. Content that talks to their lives, their emotions, pain points, country, home, age, occasion, event, and other moments that matter.

You get the picture. The opportunities for near-personalisation are vast.

Is Generative AI A Fit for My Brand?

Generative AI is and should be a strategic tool for any brand, not just an enabler of cost and time savings. Give your brand the first-mover advantage and tap into infinite personalisation and localisation, as all brands will catch on sooner rather than later. Start small, experiment, and keep your advantage growing, or partner up with skilled prompt engineers at AI labs to help you get that advantage first.

How Can Content Marketers Use Generative AI?

Generative AI can be applied in many disciplines, including content marketing. It should be a strategic consideration for any content marketer as part of content ideation, campaign planning, or strategy. This is an opportunity to upskill or form new partnerships with other disciplines like design to work collaboratively and create content that hits the sweet spot for your global consumers without blowing the budget.