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The FTC Focuses on Claims of AI

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has issued new guidance on marketers’ AI claims in their product and service descriptions. Robert Rose explains why the move to keep tech hype in check is both smart and necessary.

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Aired: March 3, 2023

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Hello there and welcome. Have you started to notice that everything today is being marketed as AI? We have AI toy robots and AI-driven cars. And in business, we have AI content software that can create content distributed by AI-powered publishing solutions and measured by AI analytics tools with recommendations from AI-powered insight software, all of which can be seen on your AI-powered mobile device. And this is just the beginning. Now, the U.S. FTC has said that artificial intelligence is a marketing term. Are you ready for five minutes of what you need to lead in marketing? Let’s roll.

Hello everybody. Robert Rose here with the news. It’s what’s new, but – more importantly –what’s important in the world of content marketing. And for the best in best practices – you can always go to

Well, as if there wasn’t enough chatter going on about artificial intelligence in marketing these days, the FTC – that’s the Federal Trade Commission for those of you playing at home – has weighed in with a warning about how companies should speak about this new-fangled technology.

In a blog post the government body posted on Tuesday, the author couldn’t resist the urge to pull in literary metaphors comparing AI to Pinocchio, the monster in a lab, or how robots will take over the world.

The post goes on to point out that artificial intelligence has many possible definitions, referring to the fact that we often use the term to describe a specific tool, a technique, or even a complete class of technological development.

Related: 3 Ways Artificial Intelligence Can Help Your Content Marketing Processes

The post warns marketers that use the term AI in their product or service descriptions to ask themselves if they’re promising they do something they actually don’t, or whether their product actually uses AI at all.

To be clear, this news short is not AI imbued. But I don’t make any claims about future newscasts. I mean, I don’t think I’m going to get taken over by a robot. But you never know. This might come from a robot someday.

In any event, the FTC has created guidance for marketers. It focuses on fairness but also promises that the FTC will be watching.

What’s our take here at CMI?

That’s good news. This is very interesting, as it’s been a bit of a pet peeve of mine since AI has really begun to emerge. It feels very much like the early days of the internet did when the marketing hype around technology began to make empty promises that were easy to fall for but impossible to keep.

I can remember promises like, “digital marketing will end television advertising,” “online will fully replace newspapers within the next two years,” or the more-business marketing promises of, “our Web tools will allow you to build a complete website with a few mouse clicks.” That never happened.

Back in 2000, the biggest hype was a thing called the Wireless Web, where this brand-new technology called Bluetooth was going to give you the ability to mow the lawn while checking your calendar, having a phone call, and listening to your favorite music – all at the same time.

As we get deeper into 2023, there is no doubt that we will all create content that tries to put the marketing promises and thinking behind AI (and some other disruptions) into some sense.

The FTC post is a good reminder of that age-old idea of Hofstadter’s Law, which is: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you account for Hofstadter’s Law. This means even when you take into account it’s going to take longer than you expect, it’s going to take longer than you expect.

As you start to see more technology projects include AI as part of their ingredients, just realize that the claims – as they always do – will become bigger, bolder, and more meaningless as the hype builds. Just keep a mindful eye, as it seems the FTC will, as well.

The FTC‘s new guidance serves as a reminder to marketers: Keep a mindful eye on claims about AI in your product and service offerings, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Share on X

Let’s keep the conversation going. Send me a note – I’d love to know what you think.

That’s five minutes of news you can use to lead your content and marketing strategy. I’m Robert Rose. Remember, as always, it’s your story – tell it well.

I’ll see you next week.

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