How a personal finance app is using AI to become a content agency

This week, the Canadian personal finance app Hardbacon—which enables users to compare competing offerings across various financial services like credit cards, brokers and mortgages—launched a business unit called Bacon Creative that incorporates AI tools such as ChatGPT into its offering.

It bills itself as “a creative content agency powered by human and artificial intelligence,” and offers services including content writing, keyword research, and consulting services for clients with in-house content teams, helping them choose AI-powered writing and image generation tools.

It is also offering two online training courses: “How to leverage AI to level up your content and SEO game” and “How to build a content machine to reach a massive audience through SEO.”

Hardbacon CEO Julien Brault said that it uses the same recipe that proved successful for Hardbacon: “Publishing a large volume of relevant content.” He calls it a formalization of the company’s existing content marketing offering, which sees it produce up to 70 pieces of financial content per month using three internal writers and a network of 15-20 freelancers.

“Producing content is part of what we already do,” said Brault, a former business journalist with Les Affaires who launched Hardbacon in 2017. “We never wanted [clients] to produce an article because we wanted to produce something that understands finance but that is still interesting, not just an advertorial saying great things about a brand,” he said. “Nobody reads that.”

Adding AI tools to its existing team to form Bacon Creative will let it offer creative content services to new clients outside the Hardbacon roster, said Brault. The goal is to deepen the relationship with existing clients within finance, although the company says it can write on “many other topics.”

While AI tools like ChatGPT have shown an uncanny ability to synthesize existing information into “new” content and mimic existing writing styles, Brault said the goal is not to generate AI-produced content, particularly in a realm as specific as finance. “The key to good financial content is to go deeper than what exists online, and ChatGPT cannot do that,” he said.

At least 70% of the content in any given article will still be generated by a human, with AI tools used to generate easily repeatable content (such as definitions of certain concepts), create tables that add context, or even produce relevant images.

But he also predicted that readers won’t be able to distinguish between human and AI-generated content. “The reality is that we cannot be replaced by those tools, but they sometimes generate a couple of paragraphs that are pretty good and [lead people to say] ‘I would have written pretty much the same,'” he said.

“We wanted to focus on what we’re really good at—we didn’t launch an agency to do their website or Facebook ads.”

Writers and journalists shouldn’t regard tools like ChatGPT as a threat, but as a way of making them more efficient, said Brault. “It’s crazy how smart it is, but it’s very limited… Journalists and people in the content business should embrace it.

“As a journalist, I loved meeting all those interesting people and researching, but it sucked having to write [the story],” he said. “Maybe one day we put in all of our interviews and research and numbers and ChatGPT will write 90% of the article, but we’re not there yet. Right now it’s a nice tool to be able to be more efficient.”

Chris Powell