Blog, Our Thinking

Creation Myths: What Do Consumers Say About Generative AI?

Key Takeaways

  • 94% of consumers want more transparency and regulation around the use of Generative AI technology in marketing and advertising.
  • Customer-generated imagery and video is the most powerful content format for influencing consumer purchase decisions: 45% of respondents say that User-generated Content (UGC) is the most authentic and trustworthy content format versus 12% for AI-generated content.
  • 58% of respondents stated that they would be more likely to trust a brand that openly discloses its use of Generative AI technology in its marketing.
  • While 66% of consumers believe that Generative AI has the potential to replace human creativity and ingenuity in marketing and advertising, 58% of consumers either oppose that occurring or are currently undecided.

It was as long ago as early December 2022 that the term “generative AI” first started to gain traction among the general public. Interest was driven by OpenAI’s release of ChatGPT; a line-in-the-sand moment that, even with the limited window of six months’ hindsight, feels seismic.

The tech news cycle (and the mainstream news cycle, too) has continued to bubble away; each new release representing a marker of significant progress. The focus has largely stayed on innovation – the striking verisimilitude of images generated on MidJourney; the extensibility of ChatGPT’s suite of plugins; the relative stock market performance of tech’s major players, etc. But outside the innovation bubble, relatively little has been said about consumer attitudes toward Generative AI (GAI).

Seeing that white space, we were excited by the idea of briefly exiting the tech hype chamber; checking in with the population at large, and delivering the first set of insights dedicated to consumer attitudes towards Generative AI technology in the realm of marketing and advertising.

To that end, we composed a survey. Posed to 600 respondents from the USA, U.K., Canada and Australia, we asked a series of questions designed to examine opinions on various aspects of Generative AI, ranging from the ethical considerations (machine learning replacing humans?) to questions about a shopper’s willingness to trust AI-generated content.

The findings offer a fresh perspective on the evolving GAI landscape; offering valuable insights for businesses beginning to navigate the realm of AI-powered marketing.

It’s our view that understanding consumer sentiments towards this emerging technology is crucial for businesses seeking to navigate the AI-powered marketing landscape successfully.

Without further ado, here’s how consumer perception is shaping up around Generative AI.

Consumer Perspectives on Generative AI

As a pre-condition for completing the survey, respondents were asked to confirm that they had at least some awareness of Generative AI (be that via news media, social, hands-on experience etc.). Of those surveyed, we learned that on the whole consumers have a generally positive impression of Generative AI technology (59%). A third of consumers remain undecided in their opinion, with only 11% possessing a negative view.

Gen Z respondents showed the highest positivity rate (74%), while the 55+ age range displayed the lowest positivity rate (35%). This suggests that younger generations are more open and receptive to AI-driven marketing experiences; a key consideration for brands looking to boost their Gen Z appeal.

Portents of an Ethical Dilemma?

A majority of respondents (66%) believe that Generative AI has the potential to replace human creativity and ingenuity in marketing and advertising. This perception highlights the growing recognition of GAI’s capabilities and its impact on content creation.

When asked about the ethical implications of using Generative AI technology for content creation, though, opinions were divided. Only 42% of respondents unequivocally supported its use, while 34% opposed it, and 24% remained undecided. This suggests that businesses need to carefully consider the ethical implications of employing AI and communicate their approach transparently to build trust with consumers.

Trust in AI-Generated Content

Consumer trust in imagery and video created by Generative AI was divided, with just under half of respondents either sceptical or undecided. However, 51% of respondents indicated that they trust AI-generated content, closely aligned with the 55% of consumers who expressed willingness to purchase products marketed with AI-generated content. This indicates that while there is a level of trust, businesses must focus on building confidence in AI-generated content to maximise its effectiveness.

Consumer Trust in Content Formats

When it comes to trust and authenticity in brand-shared content, the survey revealed some particularly pertinent insights.

User-generated content (UGC), which includes imagery and video created by real-life customers, remained the most authentic and trustworthy format (see our eCommerce Content Trends Report, run alongside the IMRG) here favoured by 45% of respondents. This finding highlights the power of genuine customer experiences in influencing consumer trust (“digital word of mouth”).

Brand-created content followed at 22%, while AI-generated content (12%) surpassed only stock imagery/film (8%), and influencer-created content (8%) in terms of trustworthiness.

These results indicate that, at least for now, consumers still most highly value content created by real-life customers.

Transparency and Regulation

Transparency and regulation emerged as crucial factors for consumers. A staggering 94% of respondents expressed the need for more transparency and regulation around the use of Generative AI technology in marketing and advertising.

Furthermore, 58% of respondents stated that they would be more likely to trust a brand that openly discloses its use of Generative AI technology in its marketing. This indicates that businesses must prioritise transparency and establish clear guidelines to alleviate consumer concerns and foster trust. (A concept already being explored by the likes of Microsoft, Midjourney, and Shutterstock.)

Personalisation and Privacy

The survey highlighted consumers’ desire for personalised marketing experiences, with 77% of respondents believing that Generative AI technology can create more personalised and relevant experiences. However, opinions were divided when it comes to sharing personal data with brands. While 51% of respondents were comfortable with brands using their personal data for personalisation, 29% opposed it, and 20% remained undecided. Gen Z respondents were more likely to be willing to share their personal data (58%), showcasing their preference for personalised content.

Concerns and Future Outlook

The survey also touched on consumer concerns regarding future uses of Generative AI technology. Data security (27%) and job losses (26%) emerged as the two principal concerns. Misleading marketing imagery and video (16%), Fraud (15.5%) and Privacy (15.5%) completed the picture.

For brands, the findings underscore the importance of proactively addressing (what they can) these concerns; implementing robust security measures to ensure consumer confidence, and clearly declaring their use of and intentions for GAI being two good places to start.


With Adobe, Google, Microsoft, and Meta each declaring their GAI credentials and roadmaps over the past months, the idea that AI will play a huge role in shaping the marketing and advertising landscape over the next few years feels well-confirmed.

Whether that’s as a copilot to creative endeavours, as an engine for personalisation, as a means for expediting processes, as a way to all but remove the need for human intervention, or all of the above and more … it remains critically important that businesses take the time to understand consumer sentiments around the technology. For GAI to prove useful to brands over the long term, the trick will be to build trust and navigate ethical considerations alongside their customers.

The survey is a useful reminder that the concepts of authenticity and trustworthiness remain paramount for consumers. User-generated Content – ten years ago named by Nielsen as the most trusted form of content shared by brands – is the most effective means through which to secure that trust (check out our eCommerce trends report for more on that).

A case of the more things change, the more they stay the same? Time will tell (time, and consumers).

Watch StoryStream CEO Alex Vaidya, and CTO Joe Baskerville in an exclusive webinar: “Generative AI and the Science of Creativity”. On-demand here.