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How eBay Uses Artificial Intelligence for Copywriting [Case Study]

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When a global brand like eBay adopts AI to scale their marketing, you pay attention.
eBay, like many forward-thinking organizations, didn’t set out to use AI. The company set out to solve a marketing problem.

“We were looking for a way to optimize at scale,” the company’s Associate Creative Director, Molly Prosser, says in a newly released discussion with artificial intelligence company Phrasee.

eBay was looking for a way to write marketing messages that made customers feel like the only person in the world. There was just one problem—the company has millions of customers.

It was physically and financially impossible to write personalized messages to every single customer. But automation wasn’t the solution, either. Sending out cookie cutter emails to the entire customer base could do irreparable harm to the brand.

The solution?

Artificial intelligence.

Thousands of Subject Lines Written in Minutes

eBay turned to AI-powered copywriting tool Phrasee.

Phrasee’s technology uses natural language generation and deep learning to automatically write and optimize email subject lines, Facebook ads, and push messages at scale. Once trained on a brand’s data, Phrasee writes human-sounding copy in a brand voice.

The solution is able to produce thousands of machine-written messages in minutes. Once written, message lines are A/B tested at scale, then Phrasee uses the data to learn how to write for even higher engagement.

In eBay’s case, that means the brand is able to write and test thousands of different personalized email subject lines with millions of customers, in a fraction of the time it takes human copywriters.

Don’t worry, AI isn’t taking away the jobs of eBay’s copywriters.

In fact, this is why marketers need to check out the full conversation between eBay and Phrasee:

The story is a perfect example of how artificial intelligence—far from being a technology to fear—can enhance and augment the work of human marketers.

At eBay, Prosser says copywriters aren’t particularly good at testing subject lines at scale to begin with. There’s too much human bias in the process.

“The eye-opening component that Phrasee has brought to me and my team is about human bias,” she says. “That unbelievable capability that we have as humans to think that we’ll intrinsically know what language will resonate with another human, which just isn’t true.”

Instead of guessing which subject lines will work, eBay’s copywriters now focus their time on building the next innovative campaign—and making sure any copywriting, human- or machine-written, resonates with customers and stays on-brand.

This doesn’t just make the business more efficient and effective. It’s making the jobs of human copywriters far more rewarding.

Given the choice between writing 150 email subject lines or brainstorming the next big campaign, says Prosser, it’s “always the latter.”

Marketers, you’ll want to look at the full case study here.
It has tons of practical wisdom on how eBay is using AI, how AI impacts human employees, and how you can take advantage of the technology.
Note: Phrasee is a Marketing AI Institute sponsor.

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