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Why Bankrate Gave Up on AI-Generated Articles
Artificial Intelligence   Latest   Machine Learning

Why Bankrate Gave Up on AI-Generated Articles

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Editorial Team

Author(s): Igor Paniuk

Originally published on Towards AI.

Source: Image by Kaitlyn Baker on Unsplash

In January, Bankrate and its sister site, CNET, made waves by openly publishing hundreds of articles generated by AI.

They cautiously tested AI-generated content, publishing 41 articles in one day, with 3 of them being AI-generated.

Initially, it seemed like a promising experiment that could demonstrate the potential of GenAI for businesses, but things took a turn for the worse.

Futurism discovered that these AI-written articles were plagued with errors and contained plagiarized content. Major publications like The Washington Post criticized it as a “journalistic disaster,” and the LA Times humorously suggested that the AI’s performance could get a student expelled or a journalist fired.

Consequently, both Bankrate and CNET, which are owned by the media giant Red Ventures, worth billions of dollars, decided to pause AI content publication due to the controversy.

Did they really stop using AI for content creation?


They’ve added a disclaimer to their AI-generated articles, stating that these articles are “generated using automation technology and thoroughly edited and fact-checked by an editor on our editorial staff.”

They also assure readers that a “dedicated team of Bankrate editors” works diligently to “thoroughly edit and fact-check the content, ensuring that the information is accurate, authoritative, and helpful to our audience.”

Only 1 AI-assisted article was published after January 2023, compared to 212 articles during 2022. It discussed the best places to live in Colorado in 2023 and contained a lot of mistakes again.

For example:

  • It stated that the median home price in Boulder is $1,075,000. In truth, based on the Redfin data referenced by Bankrate, the actual figure is considerably lower, around $764,000.
  • It mentioned that Boulder’s average salary is $79,649. In reality, the Department of Commerce data it cites indicates a higher figure of $89,593.
  • It reported that Boulder’s unemployment rate is 3.1%. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data it cites, the correct figure is 2.5%.
  • It asserted that Boulder’s total workers year-over-year had grown by 5.3%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the accurate number is 0.6%.
  • It claimed that Boulder’s “well-being” score stands at 67.6. In Sharecare’s data, they assigned a score of 74.

What’s happening with the Bankrate blog now?

1. They are writing simpler articles

I get why Bankrate prefers Ph.D. writers for complex topics like explaining multiple brokerage accounts’ benefits. However, there are also simpler questions that AI can answer.

Like, “Which documents are needed for mortgage preapproval?” where AI can do a great job with minor human edits. Yet, Bankrate now prefers human writers for these types of topics.

2. The AI content still gets good SEO results

I found an AI article written last November that ranks #1 and even has a featured snippet for the main keyword. And other AI articles are in similar positions.

So, there’s not a significant difference in performance between Bankrate’s AI content and human-written content.

However, when people see a disclaimer stating that the article was written by AI, they can lose trust and interest, even if you mention that it was thoroughly reviewed and edited by a person.

Thus, it might be better to use AI without explicitly mentioning it — something I don’t think Bankrate is doing.

3. Bankrate doesn’t publish less content now

Bankrate continues producing a lot of daily content thanks to its big team of writers and editors — there are 151 people listed on its author page. So, using an AI writing tool that needed a lot of editing probably didn’t save them much time and effort, especially when compared to human-written articles.

In my opinion, AI might be more useful when you have a small team of two to three writers. But when you have a large and experienced team working well together, the benefits of using AI are likely minimal especially if we are talking about editing AI-generated content that often takes longer than writing it yourself.

All in all

AI offers incredible opportunities for automation and content generation in the workplace. And you shouldn’t be afraid of using it.

Just remember that AI isn’t a real human. Always verify facts and exercise caution. It’s all about the right balance between AI and human capabilities.

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Published via Towards AI

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