Welcome to Press This, the WordPress community podcast from WMR. Each episode features guests from around the community and discussions of the largest issues facing WordPress developers. The following is a transcription of the original recording.
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Doc Pop: You’re listening to Press This, a WordPress community podcast on WMR. Each week we spotlight members of the WordPress community. I’m your host, Doc Pop. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine and my contributions on TorqueMag.io. You can subscribe to Press This on RedCircle, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcasting app. You can also download episodes directly from WMR.fm.
Now, 2023 could be considered the year that generative AI was adopted by the mainstream. In January of 2023, just two months after launch, OpenAI announced that it reached 100 million monthly users, making it the fastest growing consumer application in history. And by November of 2023, ChatGPT had reached 100 million active users per week.
So, in January, there were a hundred million per month. Now there are a hundred million per week. Both of these are just stunning growth. Throughout the year, we saw every company and technology trying to figure out how best to integrate AI into their workflow. Of course, WordPress was no exception. We saw hundreds of new AI-powered plugins from chatbots to generative texts appear in the WordPress plugin repository. We also saw large hosting companies, experimenting with AI tools as well, and this is clearly just the beginning. Everyone is trying to figure this out.
And so today, I’ve invited two special guests on the show to talk about what they think is gonna be the big trends in WordPress and AI for 2024. First off, let me introduce Rob Howard, the founder of HDC, and Innovating with AI, a new AI education platform. Rob, thanks for joining us.
Rob Howard: My pleasure. Glad to be here.
DP: And also joining us is Stephen Cuccio, the Vice President of Business Development at Airtank, a full-service digital agency founded in commerce, conversions, and creativity. Stephen, thanks for joining us today.
Stephen Cuccio: Thanks for having me, Doc. Excited for the conversation.
DP: Yeah, absolutely, and just to clear this off the bat, both of you are, this is going to be your own writing, neither of you are using ChatGPT to share your predictions for 2024, right?
SC: Yes, definitely can confirm that.
RH: We’re almost there, but maybe next year.
DP: Maybe next year. so let’s start this off. I thought we could share some of what we thought were going to be the biggest trends in 2024. This episode is coming out in early 2024 and this is the end of 2023 where we’ve seen all this excitement, and now it’s time to think about where this is all going to go specifically with AI and WordPress. And Rob, let’s, let’s start off with you. I’d like to hear what you think the biggest trend for AI and WordPress is going to be in 2024.
RH: The biggest trend for next year, in my view, is going to be more commoditization and more options among AI models. So we’ve seen in 2023, as you mentioned, is that OpenAI just got out to such a huge lead, so suddenly, that a lot of the other big tech companies just hadn’t, they were surprised they needed more time to catch up.
And I think what 2024 is gonna show us is that those companies are going to start to catch up with OpenAI. Not only because of the OpenAI sort of chaos that happened in November, where they fired their CEO for a few days and then brought him back. But just because these larger organizations like Google and Amazon and Facebook, Meta, IBM, you know, they’re all putting billions of dollars into catching up, and I think what we’re going to see is that is going to actually start to happen. Not to say that OpenAI won’t be around anymore, but by the end of 2024, developers will no longer have one or two good options. They’re going to have five or six good options, and that’s going to create a lot more interesting opportunities, for developers and product creators, not just to use different tools, but to experiment with which tools are better for which use cases, it’s going to push prices down even farther on some of these models, and it’s going to create a lot of new innovation, which I think is a good thing.
I kind of compare it to like cloud storage in the early 2000s. It started with Amazon. You know, everybody’s realized it was a great idea. Now they’ve all caught up. You could get cloud storage from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, anybody now. And it’s pretty much an almost interchangeable commodity. AI obviously is going to not be exactly interchangeable, you know, as cloud storage is because there’s going to be a lot of nuance to which models are better for what. But I would be very surprised if we didn’t have five options in a year that we’re as good as GPT from OpenAI is today.
DP: And I feel like you’re, partially calling me out, not on purpose, but definitely I opened the show pretty much just talking about OpenAI and conflating ChatGPT with kind of a representation of all of generative AI, at least. And that’s clearly not the case. There are a lot of alternatives, but it sounds like what you’re saying is next year, we’re going to go from pretty much just one large alternative to still a few, like still big companies. Do you think that we’re going to eventually see this become smaller and more spread out? Or, I
mean, you, you were talking about hosting, that didn’t necessarily happen, right? We still see kind of five large companies in like the very large space, the B2B space, maybe.
RH: Yeah, great question. you know, I think if in the last year, ChatGPT is equal to AI. So I, you know, I think the way you framed that is actually accurate and representative of what’s happened over the last year. They’re kind of like the Kleenex or the TiVo where their brand name is, essentially means the same thing as the brand category to people, right?
So for consumers, especially those of us who are early adopters, OpenAI and ChatGPT are pretty much everything right now, but you can already see the others catching up. Like we were just looking, you know, at Google Gemini the other day, and that’s going to be really cool when it goes public, fully. There are some smaller players like Anthropic is technically a smaller player, but they’re doing a really nice job.
OpenAI was technically a smaller player. Um, I think, you know, the reason that you would expect to see bigger companies do better is just because training these models costs millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure costs because you just need the data centers, you need the GPUs, you need a ton of capital to do a good job with it. Right? So that sort of prevents the developer in his garage from doing it, but there’s also going to be open-source models coming out. There are models being built that can run on a single iPhone, for example. So I think that there will be interesting developments in those areas, but they’re probably not going to have quite as big of a splash as like, Google diving in with Gemini is going to have, for example.
Many of the same tech consolidation trends will probably apply, right? That, you know, kind of like what you mentioned in hosting, like there are small web hosts, but there’s also a lot of consolidation and, you know, acquisitions, and that sort of activity. So, I don’t think there’s any reason to believe that that, you know, is really going to be different with AI, except that it’s newer and there’s lots of innovation going on.
DP: Stephen, do you have anything you want to say about the large companies and how they’ll share the space next year?
SC: Yeah, I think Rob made some really good points. From what we’ve seen, both talking with clients and in the industry, on the agency front has been not only leveraging ChatGPT and OpenAI as kind of the main component, but we’re seeing a lot of these other smaller players that are specifically working within, call it one or two little niches that they do really well. I’ll call out like, Jasper AI is great for content creation on the marketing front. Accio is an analytical, layer that we’ve been able to pull on top of like website analytics through WordPress. As well as GitHub’s Copilot for our WordPress developers. So, I think, to again, to Rob’s point, it’s, I wouldn’t say it’s a race to the top, but it’s a race to diversify and kind of fall within your niche in order to understand, hey, I might not be able to compete with a Gemini or Microsoft or OpenAI because they have all this funding and they have the ability to go and develop kind of these large, broad models. But when you look at some of the smaller players, they definitely have an impact on the industry. Especially as it pertains to the ability to create and create quickly.
I think you’re going to see a lot of folks have the ability to put out high-quality content, high-quality imagery at a faster rate, at a cheaper rate, which then really comes down into the ability to diversify your strategy and think from a consumer perspective, Hey, how do I differentiate myself? Not only with this great imagery and high-quality content, but from a UX/UI standpoint, that’s different than everybody else that plugs it into ChatGPT right now.
DP: I feel like both of you are still talking about cloud-based AI at the moment. Is that, Stephen, would you say that’s what you still think is going to happen or do you think we’re going to be seeing these actually running on our phones or on our WordPress website versus sending it somewhere and then getting a response back?
SC: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. The large language model aspect of things, I think, will start to take a little bit of a larger turn in 2024. But it’s just such a large overhead where you can diversify your clientele through this cloud-based model. And to what Rob was talking about before, that’s really where you see the growth of the hosting mechanism, right? The ability to stand up a site much quicker now as opposed to trying to find a physical server, you can go to WP Engine or some of the other larger players in the space in order to host your website very quickly and pop something up within a couple minutes to, you know, maybe an hour or so. So I think we’re still gonna see the cloud-based model be the largest impact within the AI industry. But certainly, I do think some of these larger companies are gonna try and go with, you know, maybe the the hardware-focused aspect.
Doc Pop: Alright, and on that, we are going to take a short break, refill our ChatGPT credits, and get ready for our next big prediction for 2024. So stay tuned after the short break for more. We’ll be right back.
Welcome back to Press This, a WordPress community podcast. I’m your host, Doc Pop. On the first segment, we gave Rob Howard a chance to share one of his big insights for what he thinks is going to happen with WordPress and AI in 2024. And now I want to pass the mic over to Stephen Cuccio to share, Stephen, I’d like to hear what you think is going to be the hottest WordPress and AI trend in 2024.
SC: Yeah, I, I think to, to kind of build off on the first segment, it’s going to be speed to market by leveraging some of these tools. And there were really three components as I was thinking through this, both reflecting on 2023 conversations I’ve had with clients, other folks in the industry, with my internal team as well.
I think the three things that really stood out to us were the ability to code review much quicker through a number of different tools, including Copilot by GitHub, ChatGPT. We can kind of dive into that a little bit more. The ability to create content and high leverage content, both on on-page, blog, H1’s metadata on Yoast within the WordPress platform, and then the analytical aspect of being able to pull analytics in real-time and have a predictive model to be able to kind of steer the ship in which direction makes the most sense.
So really all of that can be rolled into ChatGPT, but to my point before, some of these smaller applications seem to put their finger on the pulse in a better way, in my opinion, and in our team’s opinion, to the specificity of what they’re trying to get across. So GitHub is a huge developer platform. Our internal engineers use that when we’re building out WordPress sites and the ability to integrate the Copilot application within there allows our engineers to focus more on the strategic aspect of it, as opposed to writing code line by line for some of these custom sites that we’ve worked on before.
I think that just creates some efficiencies. It also, if you’re a business owner or an agency owner out there, it creates much happier employees. We’ve had our engineers sit down and kind of give us the, hey, are you concerned about AI taking over your job? You know, you can spit out some JSON and throw it into an Elementor or WP Bakery and pop up a site very quickly.
And their response was, I don’t see that taking my job because I have the ability to think at a high level and strategically solve the problem and then take away some of the mundane tasks like code review through a generative AI model. So that was really exciting for us. I think that that’s going to allow a lot of businesses to retain high-level employees at a higher rate and it’ll challenge those employees to think a little bit more strategically about the projects they’re working on.
And that’s the same thing for the content creation aspect of it. We do a lot of on-page SEO. Uh, technical SEO within the WordPress platform for clients. I’ve had conversations with other agency owners around this as well. And the ability to do high-level research, plug it into a Jasper, a ChatGPT, and then spit out H1s, metadata, all these technical components that are important to maximize, let’s say a Yoast plugin when you’re optimizing your website, again, allows our internal folks to work at a higher rate, to become more strategic, to eliminate some of the mundane tasks. And it allows them to think, hey, how do we do this from a value standpoint for clients where we’re able to pump out more content and high-quality content?
And I would say with the content creation, as I’m sure everybody listening to this understands, generative AI right now is not a perfect science, so I do encourage everybody, as you’re leveraging different tools, to continue to check over work, and that goes to my point around, it’s not meant to take jobs, it’s meant to aid folks, so making sure that your employees, or your in-house person, or if you’re a one-person business out there running your site, just making sure you’re checking over the work that you’re plugging into a model like ChatGPT.
In order to make sure that it’s pumping out correct information. We have seen a number of different things and we can go down a rabbit hole on some funny stuff that has popped out from ChatGPT and Jasper. But just make sure you’re checking that work before you’re publishing it to any application that you’re using out there.
DP: As Stephen’s mentioning, there’s anything from coding the website, you know, using Copilot and using generative AI to help you speed up the construction of the site to, I guess, more user-facing stuff, you know, you mentioned Yoast SEO being kind of tweaked with SEO improvements or using generative art for, a featured image or things like that.
Rob, I want to know of these things, because I mean I know all of these are going to grow, but of the tools that we use to build the tools that we use to make the websites versus the tools that users use, which do you think is really going to be the biggest area of growth for, for the next year, for 2024?
RH: Yeah, great question. So I think this might be a slightly different category than what you had in mind, but I think the biggest kind of the things that are going to blow our minds over the next year are going to be in the audio and video generation department, right? So this is something like creating an avatar of myself that sounds like me and can create a realistic video of me giving a WordPress tutorial about how to do something, right?
So these are things that are just starting to sort of, we’re starting to sort of scratch the surface, see some real demos of these now, but I think a year from now, number one, it’s going to be way more difficult to determine as a human viewer if a video was made with AI or not. It’s going to be almost impossible to determine if audio was made with AI or not, right?
You know, I think those are areas that play into, you know, especially the marketing and the content creation side of things. So we’re seeing it in the creation side of things. Like we’re seeing it with things like social media advertising already, where like, you know, if you scroll through Instagram or Facebook and you see the little ads within the reels, like more and more of those are going to start to be AI-generated or AI-augmented. you know, that affects. everything kind of down the the marketing pipeline all the way to the website eventually, right? As a website designer or developer, you’re always sort of downstream from advertising and marketing departments to some degree at these larger companies. And I think we’re going to see more and more of the, multimedia AI becoming a much more serious thing beyond just the text AI that’s been, you know, a breakthrough this year.
DP: The tools that we’re all talking about here, especially when we’re talking about generating video and audio, but even generating images or text, these are computationally expensive. There’s massive costs associated with this, and throughout the year, I kept hearing that like, oh, ChatGPTs might run out of money soon. And it feels like this is partially subsidized. Like this 20 a month to use ChatGPT is outrageously cheap kind of for what you’re getting. I guess one final question I’m just wondering is, are we going to see that price,is that kind of the price maybe it’s going to be for the next year? Or are we going to see these prices get more expensive if you want to integrate AI and Rob, I’ll let you start with that,
RH: My guess would be that we will not see them get more expensive, and there are two reasons for that. Number one is that the market is going to get way more competitive, which is going to keep prices low, just from a purely, you know, competition-based standpoint. And the other thing is that you know, you’ve seen a number of tech companies in the last two years start to say, Oh, we have to be profitable.
We have to change pricing. We have to do all this stuff. Right. And the impetus for that, or the reason was that their venture capitalists told them that there’s no more money coming, right? You’re not going to get that next. You know, C series or that next round that you were hoping for. So they had to sort of tighten their belts.
I think the exact opposite situation is going to happen with AI because if you are a venture capitalist or a large company like Microsoft who invested over $10 billion in OpenAI earlier this year, you probably see an effectively unlimited upside in being a leader in AI or investing in a leader. Right. So the calculation for investors is gonna be very different than what it would be for like a DoorDash or, and one of the old school tech companies who have had to sort of tighten their belts because of a lack of capital influx. I think that these companies are gonna have uh, zero difficulty raising more money, even if they’re smaller, over the next year. And that’s gonna allow them to do the loss leader thing, to try to become that, you know, behemoth in their particular arena.
And so between that and competition, I think prices are likely to actually get lower than they are now, as opposed to the opposite.
DP: Stephen, I’ll give you a chance to quickly share your thoughts on costs of using AI next year.
SC: Yeah, I’m aligned with Rob on that. I would equate it to years ago when we saw the CRM bump in the marketing industry, you saw a lot of folks that were looking at that, call it freemium model, the HubSpots, the PipeDrives, the world, and just trying to grab as much market share as possible. I think we’re in a very similar situation with generative AI and the ability to grab as much market share.
I think the key difference here is there’s infinitely more dollar amounts to be made long-term in the generative AI space. You’re not limited to working with somebody who needs to leverage a CRM because of all the different capabilities that an AI platform can bring to the table for you, from video generation to text to content to voice, all that good stuff.
So I do think that we’re going to see flatline prices, if not cheaper, and I think the diversification is going to be the main component there. You’re going to see a lot of folks that will run free trials, will try and do some competitor analysis pricing to some of the big players out there. Like we mentioned Gemini, ChatGPT, Bard, all that good stuff.
So I’m pretty aligned on that. I think that if anything, It will allow folks to be able to kind of test out which platform makes the most sense for them and then go with the cheapest, most effective, highest value option after they do some piloting of those.
DP: And on that note, we’re going to take our final break. When we come back, we’ll wrap up our conversation with Rob and Stephen about WordPress and AI trends to keep an eye out for in, in 2024. So stay tuned for more after the short break.
Welcome back to Press This, a WordPress community podcast. We are sharing our predictions for WordPress and AI in 2024. And, you know, I think back to the block editor, the announcement of Gutenberg and the block editor, and how people thought it would affect page builders. And I think AI has an interesting realm to play here. So Stephen, why don’t you tell us just your thoughts about how page builders and, you know, uh, I guess building a site, in general, is going to be affected by AI, and, you know, specifically in the world of WordPress in 2024.
SC: Yeah I think it’s going to eliminate a lot of friction that folks are seeing within their internal development team as they’re looking to maybe leverage a theme that Elementor’s built off of or Something like WPBakery. It allows some more flexibility in order to integrate those page builders and continue to be frictionless.
As you’re making changes to the site down the road, we’re seeing that a lot right now where we’ll build out a site using Hello Elementor or another maybe more robust theme that we customize for a client and be able to spin it out quicker because we have the ability to write custom code through a ChatGPT or leverage a GitHub Copilot application.
And it allows our end user to then go in once the website’s launched, add new pages, make adjustments, continue to optimize the site from an SEO standpoint. So, I think it’s going to be an additional tool to number one, eliminate friction, and number two, expedite the process for a lot of folks out there that are looking to launch.
DP: Rob, same question, AI and page builders. What’s your prediction here?
RH: So there’s already some developers out there who are building pretty much like text-to-block streams, right, with custom plugins. So, you know, you write, for
example, hey, I’d like to have a two-column block with an image on the left and a table on the right and, you know, ChatGPT can basically write that in Gutenberg for you right now, and the plugin is all about just sort of like fine-tuning that process and, you know, making sure it feels smooth to the end user. So if you take that and extrapolate it, you can apply that to Gutenberg, to Elementor, to any other number of, um, page builder interfaces. And I think that where you eventually get with that, whether it’s next year or in the future, is right now we have clients who email us and they say, hey, can you add this section right to the site? And then we go do that, right? The client can now just say that to the AI and they’ll get something that’s like 80 to a hundred percent of the way there, that’s going to be super cool. It’s going to change the dynamic of support and client relationships over time. Obviously, as, as Stephen mentioned, a lot of that is good because it means developers are doing less busy work and less repetitive work and focusing on the good stuff.
DP: And I think if I were to take a wild stab at what I love to see in page builders and WordPress and AI, I think the wildest stab I could possibly take is that I could take a piece of paper, draw a form that looks something like a website, maybe even some drawings and a logo at the top, and then also be able to input a description of what my website does, what the purpose of the site is, and some example text, and also be able to upload like five colors that are my palette and have something spin up something that’s at least placeholder enough to get me started with a background that’s my palette and high contrast colors and the forms of what I drew. That’s my sort of like pie in the sky, what I’d like to see for creating a site, it’s just being as simple as just taking all these different types of input, including an actual photograph of the sheet of paper and, you know, written text and transform that into something.
That’s where I’d like to kind of end the show is on that optimistic thing. And I guess, a year from now, we can check and see. If that’s happened yet, but for now, if people want to follow more of what you two are working on, why don’t you toss out where you recommend that they follow you, Rob, I’ll let you start.
RH: Sure. So if you’re looking to learn more about AI or build your own AI products or services, go to innovatingwithai.com. We do an incubator as well as a bunch of courses there. And if you’re looking for web development services, that’s hdc.dev and that’s my core business that I’ve been running for almost 20 years now as a web developer.
DP: And Stephen.
SC: Yeah, if you want to learn more about what we’re working on, you can go to Airtank, A I R T A N K dot com. We’re constantly putting thought leadership blogs up. We’re releasing new things within the AI space, both on the development front, on the performance marketing front, leveraging WordPress as basically our main platform.
And then if you want to follow us on social to see some of our webinar trends or some of the other posts out there, we’re across all socials @AirtankNH as in the great state of New Hampshire, and would love to hear people’s feedback, via those socials on some stuff that you’ve seen in the AI space that has helped, hurt, has been indifferent for you.
DP: Well, thanks to my guests for joining me today, and thanks for listening to this episode of Press This, a WordPress community podcast on WMR. I hope you had a happy new year and I look forward to spending time with our listeners and sharing more topics of interest throughout this year. If you have any suggestions please feel free to drop them our way.
You can follow Torque on Twitter @theTorqueMag, that’s at the TorqueMag, or you can also go to TorqueMag.io where you can find transcribed versions of these podcasts, as well as tutorials and much more TorqueMag.io. You can subscribe to PressThis on RedCircle, iTunes, Spotify, or download directly from WMR.fm.
Again, I’m your host, Dr. Popular. I support the WordPress community through my role at WP Engine, and I love spotlighting members of that community each and every week on Press This.