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Everyone’s talking about GenAI. But who’s really using it?

January 22, 2024 | By Suzanne S. LaPierre – Independent Media Reporter @Bookmouser
The topline: As Generative AI dominates media industry conversations, it is important to understand consumer and worker sentiment and adoption to guide the development and implementation of GenAI tools.

As 2024 unfolds, Generative AI (GenAI) tools will increasingly be embedded into everyday digital products and services, as well as within the workplace. As the digital media landscape evolves and is shaped by the impact of these tools, a growing body of research sheds light on how consumer interest and adoption trends vary by demographic. 

Interest in GenAI tools such as ChatGPT, Bing chat, DALL-E, Midjourney, and Snapchat My AI, differs significantly among generations, genders, and nationalities. Studies find younger users out in front of adoption – but with uneven patterns along gender lines. Globally, interest in GenAI tools varies among countries based on type of media (text, audio, image, or video).  

Newsroom leaders and workers in general increasingly use GenAI tools, and report positive expectations for future productivity. However, even these “pro” users have concerns, and workplace policies and guidance lags usage. The following takeaways offer insight for digital media professionals as they shape their GenAI strategies, both internally and for consumer facing products.  

Young users more avid – and more worried 

A recent Ofcom study of people in the United Kingdom aligns with prior research finding Gen Z and even younger children at the forefront of GenAI adoption. The study found 79% of online teens 13-17 and 40% of online children 7-12 using GenAI tools, compared to 31% of adults overall, and only 14% of adults over 44.  

However, while the UK teens surveyed were more avid adopters of GenAI, they were also more likely to express concern about it. 67% of 16–24-year-olds surveyed expressed concerns about the societal implications of GenAI, compared to 58% of all respondents. One possible implication is that users more familiar with the power of GenAI are also more cognizant of its potential dangers.  

Gender differences in GenAI adoption 

The Ofcom study found that SnapChat My AI, which became free to all SnapChat users in April of 2023, has widely been embraced by users, especially teenage girls. In contrast, far more boys than girls report using ChatGPT. Overall, OfCom reports indicate that significantly more online males than females use GenAI tools, making the female preference for SnapChat MY AI all the more noteworthy. As Snapchat My AI became embedded within users’ prior social media accounts, ease of use and syncing with social habits may have boosted appeal for girls. 

  • 75% of teenage girls use SnapChat My AI, compared with 51% of all users ages 7-17. 
  • 34% of boys ages 7-17 report using ChatGPT, versus 13% of girls in the same age range. 
  • Overall, 39% of men (16 and up) use GenAI tools, versus 24% of women in the same age range, according to the OfCom survey. 
  • 69.5% of overall GenAI users were men, 30.5% women, according to a usage analysis of the top 50 AI tools online by Writerbuddy. 60% of the visits to the top 50 tools were to ChatGPT. One tool used almost as frequently by women as men was CapCut, a video-production tool.  

Some theorize that gender disparity in the tech sector led to earlier adoption of GenAI tools among males. However, as such tools become more embedded in products and services people already use, like SnapChat, we may see equal engagement among females. 

Global Gen AI trends differ by type of tool 

Globally, interest in GenAI varies widely by media (whether the material generated is in the form of text, imagery, video, or audio). Maps created by ElectronicsHub reveal that, across all popular tools, the Philippines, Singapore, and Canada lead the world in GenAI interest (as measured by search volume per 100 k residents).  

The Philippines clocked 5,288 searches per 100 k of its population, compared to 2,213 in Canada. The United States trailed Canada at 1,187. The United Kingdom fell between Canada and the U.S. at 1,546. However, preferences for certain types of tools varied by country and region.  

  • The Philippines, Singapore, and Canada topped the interest in text-generating services such as ChatGPT and Quillbot. 
  • Israel led interest in image-generating tools (such as DALL-E 2 and MidJourney) with 311 searches per 100 k in the country’s population.  
  • South America showed a strong interest in audio-generating tools such as FakeYou and VoiceGPT. Urugay topped the global list at 230 searches per 100 k population, followed by Chile and Argentina.  
  • Video-generating tools were most popular in Singapore (57 searches per 100 k), the United Arab Emirates, and Cyprus – all of which led over Canada, the UK, and the US.  

U.S. workers embrace GenAI tools 

Over half (56%) of 1100 United States workers surveyed reported using GenAI on the job, according to the research by The Conference Board. Ten percent reported doing so daily. Most of the respondents were office workers so popular uses include drafting written content, brainstorming ideas, and conducting background research. Of those using GenAI at work, most reported positive outcomes, and had optimistic expectations.  

  • 63% of employees surveyed believe using such tools increased their productivity.  
  • 33% expect AI to replace elements of their job in a beneficial manner, such as freeing time for more conceptual and creative work by speeding routine tasks.  

Lagging the enthusiasm is robust guidelines and policies around the use of GenAI in the workplace. Only 26% of those surveyed stated that their company currently has policy in place, while 23% say policy is under development. 

News leaders anticipate GenAI advantages 

Newsroom professionals also anticipate advantages in using GenAI tools to improve efficiency and tailor content. In a recent survey of 314 media leaders in 56 countries by Reuters Institute, news executives predicted GenAI would be useful in back-end automation work such as transcription and copyediting, as well as distribution, commercial applications, and content creation with human oversight. They believe GenAI tools will help support investigation work, fact-checking, and verification. Productivity gains around use of GenAI in coding have been significant. 

However, over half of those surveyed expressed concerns related to GenAI use in content creation and over a quarter had concerns about its use in newsgathering. Concerns centered around impact on reputation and public trust, as well as protection of intellectual property.  

Newsroom leaders face the challenge of shaping policies around the use of GenAI tools. This includes designating senior editorial staff to oversee use and strategy. But Reuters’ Changing Newsrooms 2023 report found only a minority have acted thus far.   

  • 16% of news leaders have a designated AI leader in the newsroom.  
  • 24% are in the process of establishing a designated AI leader. 
  • 16% have detailed AI guidelines in place. 
  • 35% are working on establishing detailed guidelines. 

Opportunity for leadership 

Ethics and policy around the use of GenAI is sure to be a hot topic in 2024, as users express concern about ramifications and look to media leaders for oversight. The World Economic Forum strongly recommends a proactive approach to GenAI governance and risk management.  Since this is an area where many companies lag, it represents an opportunity for forward-thinking media executives to lead. 

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