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Navigating AI Labeling: Essential Insights for Marketers

April 18, 2024


The Pope walked down a Milan catwalk with his Balenciaga drip – a knee-length white puffer from the famous Italian design house.

Elon Musk and Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, walked hand-in-hand.

Black smoke billowed from the Pentagon in flames.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, incompetently poured a pint at a beer festival.

People have receipts for all of these events in the form of images. 

But none of these happened. These are all photorealistic illustrations generated by AI that went viral on social media. 

AI is revolutionizing marketing and content creation, from social media posts to ads and beyond. But, as AI becomes more prevalent, the question of transparency arises. 

How can audiences know whether what they’re experiencing is real or AI-generated?

At stake are critical concerns over trust, transparency and authenticity, not to mention the spirit and value of the creative works of designers, photographers and illustrators who have spent lifetimes mastering their craft. 

More tactically, how can marketers use these tools to improve processes, including generative search SEO, and not alienate increasingly AI-skeptical audiences

For some, the recently proposed Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act is a first step in the right direction.

Understanding the Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act

Introduced in 2023 by Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana), this bipartisan bill aims to protect consumers from AI deception by mandating clear labeling of AI-generated content. 

The act covers a wide range of content types, including:

  • Images
  • Videos
  • Text
  • Chatbots

Under the new proposed law, developers of generative AI systems are responsible for including disclosures that are difficult to remove. Third-party licensees must also prevent the publication of AI-generated content without proper labeling.

Implications for Marketers and Content Creators

The Schatz-Kennedy Act could have far-reaching implications for marketers and content creators, potentially necessitating significant changes in how they operate and utilize generative AI tools. 

To ensure compliance with the proposed law, content creators may need to take several critical steps:

  • Clearly label any AI-generated content: If AI played a role in its creation, it may need to display a digital badge.
  • Adapt content creation processes: Marketers and creators may need to rethink their workflows to ensure every piece of content has consistent and accurate labels from start to finish.
  • Educate teams on transparency: Everyone, from designers to writers to researchers, may need training on the importance of clear AI usage.
  • Collaborate closely with legal and compliance teams: As AI regulations evolve, marketers and content creators may need to work hand-in-hand with legal experts to stay compliant. 
  • Reevaluate partnerships and vendor relationships: Companies must carefully review partnerships with technology providers to ensure they comply with any labeling requirements. 

While these potential changes may seem daunting, they create the opportunity for marketers and content creators to adopt a leadership position and help create the foundation for consumers to have an informed experience with new content. 

By embracing transparency and proactively preparing for the potential legal landscape, these professionals can build trust with their audiences, differentiate their brands, and set the standard for responsible AI usage in their respective industries.


Is the Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act a Done Deal?  

While the Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act is bi-partisan and aims to protect consumers and increase transparency in AI-generated content, the proposed legislation has potential weaknesses and challenges. 

The bill is currently stalled in the committee and may not move on for a few reasons: 

  • Enforceability concerns: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is supposed to enforce the labeling of AI-generated content, but it’s unclear how they’ll manage to keep track of the vast and ever-changing world of AI content creation. It might be like keeping track of grains of sand on the beach. 
  • Ambiguity in requirements: The bill mentions that developers and third-party licensees should take “reasonable steps” to prevent unlabeled AI content from being published, but it doesn’t provide a clear definition of what “reasonable steps” specifically means. This ambiguity could result in inconsistent enforcement.
  • Lack of international coordination: A global solution may be needed. The bill only deals with U.S. regulations, which might not be sufficient to address the global scale of AI-generated content. If different countries have different labeling requirements, it could lead to confusion for both content creators and consumers. 
  • Potential for over-labeling: If the labeling requirements are too broad or inconsistent, people might become desensitized to the labels and stop paying attention to them. It’s important to strike a balance between transparency and practicality to ensure that the labels remain effective and informative. Case in point: the PMRC’s attempt to label music with explicit lyrics.
  • Vulnerability to exploitation: Some individuals might try to exploit the labeling system by intentionally mislabeling content to avoid scrutiny. To prevent this, robust authentication and verification measures to ensure that AI labels are used correctly will be necessary.
  • Defining an “Appropriateness Threshold”: Another key consideration is the “appropriateness threshold.” The need for disclosure will need to be clarified when using AI for tasks that may not be a final product, like brainstorming or editing.

While the Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act is well-intentioned, addressing these potential weaknesses and challenges will ensure its effectiveness in protecting consumers and promoting transparency as intended.

Building Audience Trust When It’s Not Mandated

Transparent AI labeling isn’t just a legal requirement; it’s an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your audience. Meaningful connections and providing thoughtful human experiences are critical for building trust.

So, let’s be honest – AI was critical to writing this article. From research (Perplexity) to rough drafts (Claude AI) to editing (Grammarly) to visuals (MidJourney), generative AI tools were critical to finding new and creative ways to approach (and humanize) the subject.

And other than the initial draft starting with the line, “Holy shit, have you seen how fast AI is taking over content creation?” AI did a pretty good job getting it close.  

Content creation with AI always requires a human touch and fewer “shits” given to the reader. 

In an era where consumers are increasingly savvy and skeptical about the content they consume, being upfront about your use of AI can demonstrate your commitment to ethical practices. 

This level of transparency can help differentiate your brand from competitors who may need to be more forthcoming about their AI usage, positioning you as a leader in responsible marketing.

By disclosing your use of AI, you can foster a sense of trust and authenticity with your audience. Consumers appreciate brands willing to pull back the curtain and provide insight into their processes. 

By engaging in open dialogue about your AI usage, you can build rapport with your audience and demonstrate that you value their trust and understanding. This can increase brand loyalty, as consumers are more likely to support companies that align with their values and prioritize transparency.


The Future of Marketing in the Age of AI Labeling

Consumer protection and innovation may be the yin and yang of modern life. As AI continues to advance, so will the laws and best practices surrounding its use in marketing. 

To stay ahead of the curve, marketers must adapt to these changes proactively. Consider two approaches: preparing for a future where the legislation is passed and living in a world where you lead with good intent in your content creation:

If the Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act becomes law, marketers should prepare to take several steps to comply. These include keeping up with regulatory changes, training teams on labeling requirements, developing clear labeling strategies, auditing AI-generated content, adopting best practices for AI disclosure and working with others to create standard labeling practices.

Even if the Act doesn’t pass, marketers should still lead with good intent when using AI. This means understanding AI ethics, using effective labeling, being creative with AI while distinguishing it from human-made content, preparing for AI advances and valuing human creativity. By being transparent and ethical, companies can build trust with customers in the age of AI marketing.

As consumers increasingly demand transparency and ethical practices from the brands they support, companies that prioritize AI labeling and disclosure will be well-positioned to build lasting relationships with their customers and thrive in the age of AI-powered marketing.

Fostering Trust and Innovation in Equal Measure

The Schatz-Kennedy AI Labeling Act marks a potentially significant marketing and content creation shift. As AI becomes increasingly integrated into our lives, transparency and trust will be more critical than ever.

Marketers who prioritize human experiences and transparency while adapting to AI labeling regulations will be well-positioned to succeed in this new era. 

You can navigate the AI labeling revolution with confidence and integrity by staying informed, collaborating with key stakeholders, and always keeping the audience’s trust at the forefront.

The future of marketing is AI-powered, but it’s also human-centered. Embrace the change, lead with transparency and seize the opportunities that AI labeling presents. Your audience will thank you for it.

Concerned about maintaining authenticity and human connection in the age of AI? Contact our team of experts today to learn how to strike the perfect balance with your audience.

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