Can a Robot Write Your Content?

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If there’s one thing that SEOs know can’t be done by automated software, it’s content creation. For years now, the three most important rules in search marketing have been “content, content, and content”. Multimillion dollar corporations like Demand Media have sprung up just to feed more content to the insatiable beast that is the internet.  Even black hat marketers have given up on cheap “spun content” strategies that no longer work like they used to.

content creation by machine

Content isn’t just required for our own websites and blogs, it’s necessary for guest blogging, blog network creation and social media marketing as well.

So content is king even still, and we pay big bucks to have readable content produced everyday for all our search marketing needs because, of course, only humans can do that…right?

Nay! As a “for instance”, Chicago-based startup Narrative Science recently developed a technology aptly named “Quill” that is capable of reading charts and data and producing actual, real, readable content through its algorithm that mimics human writing.  Customers of Quill can choose the tone based on individual need. Tweets, headlines, recaps, short and long form articles are not a problem for this ideal and omnicompetent wordsmith. It doesn’t have feelings, is a cheap hire (at $10/500 word article), won’t take Facebook breaks and is more than thrilled to be browsing through sets of data and pages of spreadsheets.

Niche news services like already use the technology to transform their corporate earning statements into easily understandable headlines and paragraphs. So far, most of Narrative Science’s clients are finance or sports based, focusing on data and statistics.

So this begs the question; “If artificially intelligent journalists are more robust and less expensive at combing through data than their human counterparts, why not use robots for content that, in a larger context, will never be shortlisted for a Pulitzer anyway?”  Readers of wires and dailies hardly expect New Yorker style pieces with metaphors and prose. These mechanical writers churn out concise and accurate content — that’s all. That is their designed function. The same technology that Narrative Science developed could feasibly be used by content marketers and SEOs to churn out quality content rapidly and cheaply.

The big question is; “How long before someone actually builds an SEO friendly tool that will?”


Image credit: Robot writer – courtesy © Aleksandr Bedrin –

Ilan Nass

Ilan Nass

Lead Marketing Strategist at Fueled
Ilan Nass is the founder of Taktical Solutions, a boutique digital marketing and strategy firm in New York City and the Lead Marketing Strategist at... Read Full Bio
Ilan Nass

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  • James B

    I find the technology very interesting, so much potential, its too bad that Narrwtive Science’s website is so detail poor. In fact, I found out more information from your article about their service (such as pricing) than I did browsing their site for 10 minutes.

  • Alex M.

    I’m glad this topic was brought up. What Narrative Science is doing is incredibly interesting and could have great implications on the future. Yeah, they’re marketing information and site detail is somewhat poor, but I believe they’re run by a group of professors from Northwestern or a well-credited Chicagoland school. I think with the right funding and better marketing, they could be on to something.

  • Cody Sharp

    I’ve kept an eye on Narrative Science and one of their competitors (somewhere in the south I believe) during the past few years. The capability of having full blown stories based off of box scores and spreadsheets is incredibly appealing to me. That being said, that is really their bread and butter. Interesting writing requires more than facts and colloquialisms. It requires expertise and experience, it requires insight into the reader and what may be appealing to them. For now, that requires a human.

  • MMag

    They probably had ‘Quill’ write it …

  • Rob

    The thought is too scary to contemplate, not just because I’d be out of a job, but because to really work, it would require not only artificial intelligence, but artificial imagination. All it would take then was an artificial ego and we’d have 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL.

  • gabe

    I don’t think $10 for a 500 word article is worth it at all. If you have a good enough spinner, you could easily duplicate that content for much cheaper. There are also human writers who charge much less, especially if you buy in bulk. Eventually though, I don’t think Google will be able to process through computer generated content and tell that it is that.