Harnessing the power of ChatGPT to boost publisher productivity


In the fast-paced world of digital publishing, time equals money.

It’s crucial that publishers embrace technology that can aid in streamlining work. Trimming superfluous tasks doesn’t just save minutes; it can lend publishers a vital competitive edge.

When faced with new technologies like the AI-powered language tool ChatGPT, however, questions arise:

  • How can publishers use ChatGPT to improve productivity?
  • What opportunities does ChatGPT present, and what pitfalls should be avoided?
  • Which avenues of ChatGPT’s possibilities have already been explored, and which ones present exciting challenges?

We’ve spent time researching how publishers can responsibly use ChatGPT in order to efficiently complete lower-effort tasks, freeing up resources that can be allocated to core responsibilities and high-value projects. This is what we’ve learned.

What is ChatGPT?

In November 2022, ChatGPT stole the spotlight on the world stage, sparking an unending flare of conversations. The NYTimes alone publishes roughly one article per day about ChatGPT, from its use in schools to whether the language model developed by OpenAI will…steal comedians’ jobs. (The punchline? The stand-ups are safe, for now at least.)

ChatGPT, which uses an algorithm to generate human-like responses to prompts, has been trained on massive amounts of training data, allowing it to generate realistic and coherent responses to prompts and questions. While there are concerns surrounding its use—like whether it will affect the job security of call center workers—AI, when deployed ethically and responsibly, serves as an invaluable tool.

ChatGPT use cases for publishers

There are a myriad of ways that publishers especially can use ChatGPT to both streamline and improve their efforts, from using it as an idea generation aid to translating texts. We’ve compiled a few of them for you.

Content creation and brainstorming

ChatGPT can aid publishers in creating SEO-friendly content by suggesting keywords, meta descriptions, and tags.

It can also swiftly generate summaries for use on social media platforms, newsletters, and other mediums—if you can think of it, ChatGPT can probably help you with it.

Publishers can also use ChatGPT to promptly produce timely content on less complex topics, shifting resources to more complex (and time-intensive!) articles.

Editing and reviewing

Publishers can save time by harnessing ChatGPT to edit and review content for grammar issues, spelling mistakes, and incorrect phrasing. This frees up resources and enables publishers to focus on larger projects.

You can even simply ask: “How would you improve this article?” and ChatGPT will provide quick and actionable feedback.

Personalized content

It’s possible to use ChatGPT to generate personalized content based on specific user preferences, demographics, and behavior. It can also assist in translating copy into different languages for global audiences. Publishers can leverage this feature to provide customized content for their audience with minimum effort.

Writing scripts and templates

When it comes to drafting, it’s often helpful to work from a rough first draft. Writing, as they say, is rewriting. Cutting out the first, labor-intensive drafting process can help content flourish faster.

ChatGPT can draft video scripts and create templates for all different types of articles—news, sports, and culture are three topics that require hours of research and thoughtful, but messy, first drafts.

ChatGPT can also automate tasks such as writing email templates or scheduling appointments, freeing up more time for publishers to focus on core responsibilities.

Potential drawbacks of ChatGPT

While it’s undeniable that ChatGPT is an effective tool to enhance productivity for publishers, it is equally important to note its potential drawbacks—and to use ChatGPT as a tool rather than a replacement.

One of the main reasons for this is that ChatGPT draws from older data: publishers need to be vigilant and make sure that everything ChatGPT-generated is fact-checked and looked over for inaccuracies or biases.

Critical thinking is still the province of humans: if the content is created completely by ChatGPT, publishers might end up with stilted, odd, or flat-out incorrect wording in articles, newsletters, or posts.

Not only that, but ChatGPT still lacks creativity. The human touch and voice that makes writing compelling can be completely lacking in AI-generated content; a skilled editor is required to look over and rewrite as necessary. There’s a distinct learning curve for publishers looking to understand how to get the best results out of the tool.

There are also some broader ethical considerations at play in the adoption of new technology like ChatGPT. It’s important to consider that content creation represents not only the thoughts and time, but also the livelihood, of many people.

Generating content through the use of ChatGPT could mean writers, editors, and other content professionals leaving to work in other fields—a troubling issue, especially if what replaces them is uninspiring content riddled with bias and error.

ChatGPT best practices for publishers

To maximize the benefits of ChatGPT, it’s vital that publishers provide prompts that are both specific and clear. Some experimentation and iteration may be necessary, but generally it’s helpful to provide context, clarify the tone of voice, and specify the type of text (simplified vs. detailed, informal vs. formal) that’s needed.

By following some best practices—and balancing the results with human expertise—publishers can generate high-quality content that resonates with their audience.

We even tried out some prompts on ChatGPT to find some examples of what was bad, what was basic, and what worked best:

Bad: Write a social media post about the environment and advertising.

This prompt is extremely broad and vague; it doesn’t specify the character-count constraint, tone of voice, context, or specific knowledge. And, well: this is the (very lengthy) result. Sometimes without enough guidance, just like a human, ChatGPT can start rambling in hopes it hits the mark.

Basic: Write a post for Twitter (280 characters or less) about the environmental impact of digital advertising.

This prompt is more effective; we’d give it a passing grade. It outlines the character count and gives further details about the purpose and context for the post. The end result is better, but still pretty broad and lacks a call-to-action.

Best: Please draft a professional yet conversational Twitter post (280 characters or less) outlining actionable steps digital advertisers can take to decarbonize media, emphasizing sustainability and impact.

That’s more like it. This prompt details the tone of voice, the character limitations, and specifies the kind of content that’s being looked for. By taking a little time to think about your intentions and the type of tone you want to convey, you can give ChatGPT more direction and get a better output in return.

As technology continues to evolve, it’s essential for publishers to stay abreast of the latest trends and leverage new tools that can enhance their business.

Through practice—and a thorough understanding of limitations and the adoption of best practices—publishers can use ChatGPT to save time, streamline processes, and free up talent for more important tasks. And, despite having a few potential drawbacks, it can be an effective tool for publishers to boost productivity and efficiency… while still focusing on their core responsibilities.

The future is here. It’s time to harness it.

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