Alibaba Wants a Robot to Write Your Product Descriptions

April Davis By April Davis | 05 Jul 2018

According to Alibaba, its new artificial intelligence (AI) copywriting tool can produce 20,000 lines of product copy each second.

Alibaba’s new AI Copywriter tool has reportedly been designed to assist merchants on its retail sites by producing large quantities of product information without the services of a writer.

The AI tech has been unveiled by the e-commerce giant’s digital marketing arm, Alimama, and utilises machine-learning technology. Christina Lu, the general manager of Alimama has emphasised that the tech doesn’t have the creative capabilities of a professional copywriter, but has been designed to complete repetitive, low-value work like entering product specifications or simple descriptions.

“All the content produced by the AI Copywriter is the result of applying deep learning models, trained with large volumes of quality content created by humans. Human creativity is the cornerstone for the machine, which isn’t able to replace the creativity of people,” said Lu,

“AI for marketing… allows people to devote more energy to richly creative work.”

To produce copy, the tech has been trained to analyse “millions of existing samples” on Alibaba’s retail platforms, utilising deep learning models and natural language processing technologies to generate relevant text.

According to the Chinese business, the tool has successfully passed through testing, including a Turing test, which requires a computer to be able to replicate human activity well enough that people can’t distinguish the difference.

Alibaba says the artificial copywriting tool is easy to use, with brands like Esprit already taking advantage of the technology. Brands and advertisers simply need to insert a link to the product page they want to be written and select the ‘produce smart copy’ function. Businesses will then be able to tweak the length and tone of the copy that’s produced, having the freedom to choose from options like functional, promotional or fun.

Merchants on Taobao, Tmall, Mei.com and 1699.com are reportedly already using the tool, with its services being accessed roughly a million times per day.

Rival company, JD.Com has recently introduced its own Ai writing robot, which reportedly learns from customer reviews and content from across the marketplace to produce more than 1,000 pieces of content per day.

According to JD.Com, the tool can be used to produce product descriptions and shopping guides within seconds. The content tool has also been compared to famous Tang Dynasty poet, Li Bai, because of its description of a wedding ring as “holy matrimony drops from the sky”. JD.Com says its currently training the system to recognise images as well, so it can improve its functionality in the future.

Alibaba has placed a large focus on AI in recent years, as it continues to develop its ‘New Retail’ technology and capabilities. On Thursday, the business opened its first FashionAI pop-up concept store in collaboration with GUESS, in an effort to close the gap between online and offline shopping.

“With the latest AI technologies, like machine learning and computing vision, FashionAI can now recommend items that match [a person’s] personal style,” said Zhuoran Zhuang, vice president of Alibaba Group.

“That gives imagination to consumers and injects new ideas into fashion brands and retailers to rethink their business and sales models. Leveraging AI in fashion, therefore, offers many untapped opportunities for fashion retailers.

While Australian retailers have been a lot slower to adopt AI technology than those in China, Alibaba is confident that with better consumer and seller education, adoption rates in Australia will advance beyond the use of visual search tools on mobile shopping apps.

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