Brands in the age of AI: Examining Britons' attitudes and expectations
June 28th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Brands in the age of AI: Examining Britons' attitudes and expectations

Signatories to a recent statement released by the Center for AI Safety - more than 350 executives, engineers and scientists working in A.I, including top executives from Google's DeepMind, OpenAI and Anthropic - have raised concerns about the risks of AI. Prioritising it alongside global pandemics and nuclear war, the open letter calls for mitigating the risk of humanity's extinction from the tech.

However, even amidst rising concerns, more and more brands are starting to adopt artificial intelligence (AI), especially generative models for the creation of branded content like adverts, social media content, articles, etc. A recent YouGov Surveys: Serviced poll in the UK offers insight into Britons’ attitudes towards the use of AI and subsequent expectations from brands.

Before exploring these opinions, however, it is necessary to understand the level of AI awareness amongst Britons. While two out of five Britons agree that they have a good understanding of how AI works (39%), a much larger share say the opposite (48%).

This lack of understanding has an undeniable effect on Britons’ feelings towards the use of AI in general and by brands.

The study reveals that just 28% of Britons who don’t have a good understanding of AI are likely to believe that AI use will benefit society in the long-term. On the other hand, almost twice as many Britons with a good understanding of such technologies (53%) say the same.

A deeper look into Britons’ feelings about brands – they interact with – using artificial intelligence in any way, reveals similar nuances.

Irrespective of their level of awareness, concern and confusion seem to be the most common feelings amongst British adults when it comes to AI use by brands. Unsurprisingly though, more Britons with a lack of understanding about AI are significantly more concerned than their more knowledgeable counterparts (44% vs. 39%).

Similarly, respondents who don’t understand AI are more scared about brands using it than respondents who are aware (14% vs. 9%).

Conversely, Britons who say they have a good understanding of AI are markedly more interested and excited when the brands they interact use artificial intelligence. This group of Britons is more than three times as likely to feel excited by brands using AI compared to British adults who don’t (20% vs. 6%).

When it comes to feelings of fear, however, both groups appear to be equally scared (13% and 14%) about brands using of artificial intelligence. 

With advancements and innovation in generative AI models like OpenAI's ChatGPT, brands are now harnessing AI tech to create content, increase organic traffic and grow their business. Still, the use of such language models is not without its risks. As more brands continue to adopt such models, an insight into consumer trust in AI generated brand content can help marketers create successful content strategies.

A little less than a tenth of Britons with an understanding of AI indicate that they would trust branded content generated by AI a little more (8%) than such content produced by humans. More than one out of eight respondents in this group say they would trust AI generated content a lot more (13%). 

On the other hand, less than a twentieth of Britons who are ignorant about AI say they would trust AI produced content a ‘little’ or a ‘lot’ more (4% and 2% respectively).

While almost a third of unaware Britons say they would trust content produced by AI a ‘little’ or a ‘lot’ less than content generated by humans (30%), this proportion falls to one in four amongst respondents with a good grasp over artificial intelligence. 

Interestingly, further scrutiny of the survey data reveals that a large majority of all British adults are not confident in their ability to accurately recognise whether a piece of content has been produced by a human or by AI – 36% say they are “not very confident” while 29% say they are “not confident at all”.

Confidence in being able to correctly distinguish between content produced by humans and AI and age share an inversely proportional relationship. More than three quarters of Britons aged 55 and above (77%) are not confident that they can accurately tell the difference compared to slightly more than a half of 18-34-year-old adults (51%).

It comes as no surprise then, that nearly one in three Britons tend to agree (31%) while more than half of Britons (51%) strongly agree that brands should be transparent in flagging when AI has been used to produce their content. 

Developments that allow the use of AI to generate advertisements, articles, scripts and more, have quietly ushered in a new future of branding. However, marketers, brands and organisations have their work cut out for them, especially, but not limited to, continued efforts in consumer education about the capabilities and limitations of AI.

This data first appeared in an article by PR Week.

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on May 2023 with a nationally representative sample of 2,015 adults in UK (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race to be representative of all adults in UK market (18 years or older), and reflect the latest ONS population estimates. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.