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  • Writer's pictureRichard Laurence

Man bites dog! Human copywriters write more effective ads than AI generated copy.

Man bites dog newspaper headline

Hey, guess what? Maybe I’m not redundant after all.

I’ll admit as a professional humanoid copywriter the rise of AI generated copy has had an impact on my industry. And my bank balance. 

I can’t say I’ve ever really been convinced that a software programme can write copy as effectively as I can, but you know, when Google, Meta, Microsoft, Uncle Tom Cobley and all,  tell the world they’ve created a new holy grail who am I to argue?

And of course, like lemmings, those who’s job it is to commission advertising copy, jumped off that cliff pretty damn quickly. 

Followed almost as quickly by an army of grifters and ne’er-do-wells offering me $99 courses reduced to just $9.99 for one day only, to educate me in how to use AI generated copy to write advertising copy.

Well here’s the news. (And yes, I realise it may not be news for long, LLM being what we’re led to believe, is probably going to take over life on earth next week, if not sooner.)

Human copywriters outperform AI generated copy. There I’ve said it. How so? How is it humanly possible for human copywriters to beat the flat earth might of Generative AI?Well thank the lord (other deities are available) for the Search Engine Journal ( They did a recent study at Hop Skip Media delving into the metrics of the power of human copywriting in advertising.

If click-through rates (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) are crucial metrics for gauging ad performance they should reveal which messages entice users to engage with the advertised product or service and at what cost, right?The SEJ study used Copy AI, which as we all now know, is a popular AI-powered copy-generation platform in widespread use and with positive user reviews within the advertising industry.

They created ads targeted at business owners and marketing managers looking for pay-per-click advertising services. The focus product/service advertised was SEJ’s services at Hop Skip Media.

They designed a controlled test with one responsive search ad (RSA) sample size per copywriter (human and AI). This format allowed for a comprehensive content comparison across various headlines and descriptions.

Each ad contained 15 headlines and four descriptions, following the best practices for the RSA structure recommended by Google Ads. The ads were then placed on Google search via Google Ads for a duration of eight weeks. SEJ allocated a total budget of $500. (And yes, SEJ acknowledge that those two factors were limitations in their study. They have plans to repeat the study in 2024 with a larger budget and longer timeline.)

The Result? Yes, to everyone’s amazement the results clearly show that human-written ads significantly outperformed AI-generated ones. Shock horror! Say it ain't so Joe!

The copywriter-written ads achieved 45.41% more impressions and 60% more clicks, resulting in a significantly higher CTR of 1.33%.

Prove it said the AI aficionados. 

Well here’s the beef:


AI written ads = 26

Human written ads = 65


AI written ads = 713

Human written ads = 1,306


AI written ads = 3.65%

Human written ads = 4.98%

Average CPC:

AI written ads = $6.05

Human written ads = $4.85

But how in all that is holy can a mere human writer outperform AI?

Believe it or not the difference is the human factor. If AI was speaking to computers, it would probably win hands down, but hey, until we actually replace humans (don’t laugh) AI just doesn’t get humanity. Yet. We humans understand humans beyond mere demographics. We have innate skills enabling us to understand target audience’s emotions, needs, and desires. We can more easily tap into cultural nuances and tailor our messaging to resonate on multiple levels, creating a deeper connection with potential customers. That said, although continuously evolving, AI still struggles with this level of nuanced understanding.

Then there’s the usually derided power of creativity and emotional appeal. We, humans that is, have much greater powers of creativity which means we can craft messages that evoke emotional responses, humour, or a sense of urgency, all of which significantly improve ad effectiveness.

AI, whilst effective at generating various text formats, often struggles with the subtle nuances of language and cultural references that resonate with audiences on an emotional level. Which, as I’ve tried telling everyone who isn’t a software nerd, leads to generic ad copy which lacks the emotional appeal that generates click-throughs.

Hey, don’t blame me. I’m just a simple copywriter. But that’s not all. Who would have known that we humans are pretty good at adapting our messaging to specific contexts and platforms. We can tailor ad copy for different demographics and online behaviour patterns, and even adjust them based on real-time campaign performance data.

And yes, while AI is improving its ability to adapt, it still struggles to replicate the level of flexibility and context awareness that human copywriters possess.

So. Bottom line, and this is where I kind of came in, if you need effective advertising copy, hire a human. My number’s in my profile. 

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