6 Ways Marketers Are Using Generative AI: Is It Really Saving Time?

Marketing Feb 8, 2024 27 minutes read

Table of contents

    AI was the hot topic of 2023 and will continue to reign in 2024: ChatGPT first launched at the end of 2022 and became a massive hit in just a few months. Google released Bard shortly after, and then, new AI tools just kept popping up, prompting marketers to learn how to leverage them to become more efficient and productive.

    Many invested time into coming up with the most detailed instructions to give to AI to ensure the best results possible, but in the era of efficiency, we were curious to learn about all the ways AI can be used in marketing to save time.

    Or is that aspect of AI just overhyped?

    With almost all marketers (95%) who participated in our research believing that Generative AI tools will become an even more important part of their writing and content creation process in the future, we’re sure you’re curious to learn more.

    Take a look at the contents of our report to jump to the section you’re interested in the most.

    Who Did We Survey?

    This comprehensive research was done in collaboration with Penguin Strategies between June and November 2023. Thanks to the very popular topic, it quickly gathered 237 respondents. 

    Out of these 237 survey participants, two big groups of respondents stood out:

    • 32.49% of respondents belong to marketing and advertising
    • 31.22% are in SaaS, Software, or Technology industries

    Marketing Benchmarks for B2B Tech & SaaS Companies

    Let’s take a look at how B2B Tech and SaaS companies performed in November 2023 in terms of different marketing metrics, like Sessions, Landing Page Submissions, Deals Created, and more.

    The median number of Sessions across this industry in November was 3.26K.

    GA4 Sessions

    The median number of landing page submissions in the same month was 20.5 based on our benchmark group.

    HubSpot Marketing Landing page submissions

    The median value for landing page views to submission rate was 6.73% for B2B tech and SaaS companies in November 2023.

    HubSpot Marketing Landing Page views to Submission rate

    The median number of deals created in November was 34 for B2B tech and SaaS companies.

    HubSpotCRM Deals Created

    The median number of deals closed won for these companies was only 8 in the same month.

    HubSpot CRM Deals Closed Won

    These results, provided by Benchmark Group Penguin Strategies Benchmark Group for B2B Tech & SaaS Companies, indicate that there is room for improvement in all these metrics, as their median values in November 2023 were much lower than the median values of the top performers in the group.

    The strategic use of Generative AI can contribute to improving these metrics by, for example, creating more engaging and relevant content for the website, analyzing user behavior and preferences, optimizing the design and copy of the landing pages, forecasting, etc.

    There are additional metrics in the group (in addition to the aforementioned): Bounce Rate, Cost per Conversion, Contacts, and New Contacts.

    By becoming a member of this particular benchmark group, you will have access to market performance insights, and if you also connect your own data to the system, you’ll have the unique opportunity to anonymously compare your own performance metrics against others in the market.
    Be among the first to identify emerging trends and collect useful insights about your industry—join our Benchmark Groups today.

    Most Popular AI Generative Writing Tools

    We asked our survey participants to share their favorite AI writing tools. Here are the results:

    Most Popular AI Generative Writing Tools

    Among all AI tools used for writing, ChatGPT won by far, as both its free (58.72%) and the paid versions (shy of 50%) are the two most commonly used AI writing tools. About one-third stated using Google Bard. 

    However, most of those who use Google Bard also use ChatGPT Free or ChatGPT Plus. Most of those using ChatGPT Free or ChatGPT Plus do not use any additional AI writing tools. 

    Only 3% of the respondents stated that they don’t use any Generative AI writing tools.

    We also asked our respondents which Generative AI writing tools they have a paid subscription to, and the most mentioned was ChatGPT. The second most mentioned was Jasper.

    You can read more in detail about the 10 most used AI writing tools in this guide on our blog.

    How 200+ Marketers Use Generative AI In Content Marketing

    The most practical takeaway from this article for you is learning how to actually use AI in marketing—what processes can you speed up, where are AI’s limitations, and how to make sure your content doesn’t appear spammy?

    We asked over 200 marketers who participated in our survey to share their best use cases of generative AI in content marketing.

    Most companies agreed that the most help they get from Generative AI is in Brainstorming topics and Writing outlines.

    Generative AI helps marketers the most in brainstorming and writing outlines

    Regarding the content formats for which companies seek assistance from Generative AI, the most popular choices are Blog posts (77.88%), followed by Social posts (72.35%), Emails (62.21%), and Website copy (50.69%).

    Types of content Generative AI is used to create

    Let’s break down each of the common AI uses in writing so that you can get some more actionable takeaways.

    Brainstorming Ideas for Different Content Types

    Generative AI can understand the context around your niche or industry, generate diverse concepts, and fuel creativity in coming up with new content ideas, not just around topics, but formats, too. It can be a valuable collaborator in content planning, helping you supply a wealth of diverse, data-driven ideas across various content types and craft compelling and engaging content strategies.

    For instance, gen AI can propose ideas across various content types—blogs, videos, infographics, podcasts, and more—tailored to specific marketing goals or audience preferences. AI-generated ideas can be tailored for specific platforms or channels, ensuring consistency while adapting content to suit the nuances of each medium.

    “The biggest advantage I have received is in creating outlines and brainstorming ideas. Tools like ChatGPT-Plus and Google Gemini help me nail down ideas for blog posts,” shares Farah Ahmed of Zilliondesigns, while Bobby Lawson of Earthweb gives us an estimation of how fast his team can now generate new ideas thanks to AI. “AI has helped shorten the brainstorming process by, I would say, around 30%. It takes us 4 days to come up with new content ideas and strategic keyword placement as opposed to 6 days, for example.”

    Georges Fallah of VBOUT sees AI as a “valuable support tool rather than a full replacement” in content creation and considers it excellent at grammar checks and idea generation.

    “Although we do not exclusively rely on AI for content creation, it plays a significant role in our process. […] These tools have also been instrumental in brainstorming content for our monthly webinars and creating catchy email subject lines and engaging SMS and social media content,” says Fallah.

    According to Autumn Blakeman of Honcho, Gen AI can even make brainstorming fun.

    “Content creation is more fun and productive because the barriers to ideation (brain just not creative today etc.) are gone, we get initial ideas, and it’s so easy to go from there. From my personal experience, I save just over half of the time I would usually spend.”

    Doing Research and Collecting Materials

    Generative AI can assist marketers in research and material collection through its advanced capabilities, such as data aggregation and analysis, trend identification, topic exploration, content synthesis, and more.

    AI can swiftly gather and analyze vast amounts of data from diverse sources, condensing information relevant to your strategy, as well as summarize lengthy articles or reports into concise snippets, making it easier for marketers to digest and utilize essential information efficiently. Also, by scanning numerous online platforms and databases, AI can identify emerging trends, industry insights, and consumer behaviors.

    “I do use ChatGPT to assist with creating outlines, as outlining is all about pulling research from multiple sources and combining it into a starting point for an article,” explains Jessica Huhn of Referral Rock, how she uses AI for research.

    Cody Candee of Bounce says that “the ability of AI to acquire data and put it into an actionable format is where it has its most impact and what saves marketers precious minutes,” condensing what would potentially be hours of research into a few minutes of refining your prompt.

    Writing Outlines and First Drafts

    Generative AI significantly expedites the writing process, providing marketers with structured outlines and initial drafts that serve as a foundation for creating compelling and engaging content. This accelerates content production while maintaining quality.

    AI helps in:

    • Structuring outlines by proposing logical hierarchies, defining sections, and suggesting content flow based on the given topic
    • Generating initial drafts and offering a starting point for marketers to refine and personalize further
    • Defining appropriate tones, styles, and voice, ensuring consistency and alignment with brand messaging

    If you take your time to tailor the prompt based on your niche and audience, AI tools can come up with great, well-structured outlines, especially for blog content.

    Jessica Huhn of Referral Rock describes her process: “Here’s how it works: I choose keywords (without AI assistance) and then briefly check existing ranking articles for a keyword on my own. Then, I ask ChatGPT-4 to write an outline covering the topic using 3-5 of the relevant ranking articles as a guide. We have a formatting template that we use in our outline prompts to ensure ChatGPT uses our standardized formatting – this saves me time when I edit the outline. Once ChatGPT is finished generating the outline, I’ll manually scan it to make sure everything looks accurate and has all the key sections. Often, I’ll ask ChatGPT to add section headings (and details under headings) that I think it missed. When I’m happy with an outline, I’ll add relevant product-based information. As I mentioned, ChatGPT does exactly what I had to do manually to write outlines, but at a much quicker pace.”

    Other marketers use AI tools for crafting first drafts that they later edit and polish.

    “I like to use AI to give me a draft I can pick apart and rebuild,” says Noah Stambovsky of Modern Driven Media. “I use it to plan out the structure of content. I discuss a topic with it to inspire new ideas. I also use it to take something i have written, and make it adhere to one or another copywriting frameworks.”

    Dhawal Shah of 2Stallions Digital Marketing Agency uses AI for first drafts as well. “We use AI tools such as Chat GPT and Frase Io to generate and rephrase paragraphs and sentences for article drafts,” Shah comments, and adds: “Of course, we still need to check for data relevance, rephrase, add relevant data, and infuse our unique perspective into the content.”

    Content Editing

    One of the top uses of AI writing tools is related to editing content, but not just in the traditional way where you polish a piece to make it ready for publishing. This is where most marketers confirm AI falls short, and you need a human to make the edits.

    However, editing raw text in order to extract, consolidate, and summarize information is AI’s strong suit. This is where you can save a lot of time, for example, by letting AI go through an interview transcript to pull out quotes, data, and more, instead of doing it manually.

    “One of our biggest tasks is editing interview responses from marketers. It was time-consuming and ultimately expensive to have a skilled editor review and edit responses. Now, with generative AI, we’re able to upload the interview responses and, with a well-written prompt, get perfectly edited responses immediately and at little to no cost,” shares Steve Dinelli of Marketer Interview.

    AI can also be useful in correcting your grammar and ensuring you don’t spend too much time on spell checks.

    “Chat GPT has helped us save a lot of time,” says Rhett Stubendeck of LeverageRx. “We do not have to proofread our articles ourselves, as it is prone to human errors. We now use chat GPT to help us correct any grammar mistakes in our articles. This means increased productivity because Generative AI has eliminated all the redundant tasks.”

    Optimizing Content for Search Engines

    Gen AI can be a powerful tool to supercharge your SEO efforts. It helps generate content at scale, catering to specific keywords or topics, and reducing the time needed to write and publish new content.

    It can also help with creating compelling meta descriptions, headlines, and alt text for images, optimizing on-page elements that are crucial for SEO success. Some marketers even use it for conducting keyword research, identifying trending topics, and producing content that resonates with the target audience, driving higher visibility and authority within search engine results pages.

    AI has been working well for Teemu Raitaluoto of Markettailor in terms of content optimization. “We were able to 4x our traffic as a small startup using AIContentfy to write all our blog content. We use it to write blogs fully without human intervention. Now SEO is our main channel for business,” Raitaluoto comments.

    Rhett Stubendeck adds that tools like ChatGPT can also help with keyword research.

    “[…] My business website has a blog that needs to be maintained. We are now using chat GPT to improve the tone of our articles and make them sound more professional. This has helped us create a good first impression on visitors and generate many leads. In addition to this, we also ask Chat GPT for any recommended SEO keywords in order to increase my website’s traffic. However, we do not use chat GPT a lot for research purposes as it sometimes generates false information,” Stubendeck explains.

    Content Repurposing

    AI tools can quickly transform existing content, such as articles, blog posts, or videos, into multiple formats like infographics, social media posts, podcasts, or even new articles. It helps with summarizing, condensing, or expanding on original content, enabling the creation of tailored versions for different platforms and audiences and taking this mostly manual work off your plate.

    Even the Databox team uses ChatGPT to repurpose podcast materials into LinkedIn posts that generate engagement, according to the CEO, Peter Caputa.

    ChatGPT can also repurpose content into FAQs, case studies, or email newsletters, maximizing its reach and value across diverse channels and audiences.

    Mike Grinberg of Proofpoint Marketing recommends a tool called SummarAIze to get multiple content formats fast.

    “The two core ways we use these tools are for internal communication (summarizing meeting notes, etc.) and for content repurposing and getting a quick first draft. Specifically, we use a tool called SummarAIze to repurpose our podcasts and live events into a variety of derivative content.”

    “Our podcast and live event repurposing workflows have significantly improved with decreased time on admin and low-value tasks,” confirms Grinberg.

    How Are Generative AI Tools Affecting Marketers’ Productivity in Content Creation

    We also wanted to learn if using AI helps marketers boost their productivity when it comes to content creation. Here’s what we found.

    Most companies use Gen AI at least once a day. More than a third of the respondents stated that they use Gen AI multiple times a day.

    How often do you use AI to generate content

    Most companies stated that gen AI improved the quality of their content. However, about one third of respondents stated that it did not affect the quality of their content. About 5% stated that it affected the content quality negatively and 9% is not sure if it improved or worsened the quality of the content.

    Most companies stated that gen AI improved the quality of their content

    About ⅔ of the respondents are not investing in prompt libraries – one-third plan to invest in them in the future and one-third do not plan to invest.

    Most companies reported that they save between 25% and 74% of time when using Generative AI to create a piece of content. 

    How much time dose using Gen AI save

    Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios uses AI to get topic suggestions based on the data from GA4 and GSC, as well as for “writing social posts, email copy, and YouTube descriptions,” which saves a lot of his time.

    “Any promotional content is faster now. I’ve trained it to write in my voice. This is early days. It will get better, and we’ll all get better at using it. I’m expecting a 20% productivity boost which is HUGE,” Crestodina confidently claims.

    But saving your time isn’t always about doing things faster. Nate Tower of Perrill shares how his team can now achieve more thanks to AI.

    “Generative AI has allowed us to create more content and a wider variety of content. It doesn’t necessarily save time in the sense that we aren’t finishing our work faster. Instead, we are able to produce more content and more types of content (such as infographics) in a more efficient and effective manner. Generative AI content still requires a lot of human intervention, but it is definitely helping with productivity,” concludes Tower.

    Hui C of Hello Curve and Sam Swiech of Madison Marketing Group agree.

    “Generative AI has increased my productivity in content creation significantly. I used to manually search for blog topic ideas, but now I just need to ask ChatGPT directly for multiple ideas,” says Hui C, while Swiech claims that AI has “pretty dramatically” improved his productivity. “Specifically in the area that was slowest and most tedious: turning raw SME output into a final content product,” Swiech explains.

    Olga Andrienko, VP of Brand Marketing at Semrush, reveals another creative use of AI that’s been underrated but can also save a lot of time.

    “One great use case was when we were discussing archetypes for brand, and I asked to run an analysis on Semrush to define our archetype. Even with 2021 info, the [AI] tool had a great audit of brand archetypes and later we quickly refined it and described our current archetype. I saved about 2 hours of my time on this task alone.”

    Tom Golubovich of Ninja Transfers also offers concrete numbers in terms of how much time he’s saved by relying on gen AI.

    “I used to be a person who could get stuck on a single idea or an intro paragraph for hours. Generative AI largely solved that — I rarely have to deal with “writer’s block” anymore, and I’d say it improved my overall productivity by at least 30-40%.”

    Bonus Analysis: The Impact of Prompt Libraries in Improving Content Quality and Streamlining Content Production Processes

    Our extensive research included an analysis of whether companies that invest in prompt libraries get different results when using Gen AI tools. We identified 72 of such companies among our respondents and the results are the following:

    Most of the companies that have invested in creating a prompt library are in marketing/advertising or SaaS, Software, or Technology. Over 70% of them have 50 employees or less (they are small businesses).

    About 70% of these companies use ChatGPT Plus. The top three content creation aspects the majority of these companies get the most help from Gen AI tools are:

    • Brainstorming topics
    • Writing outlines
    • Writing a first draft

    This could indicate that companies use Gen AI tools to help them in the content creation process, but they don’t rely on AI to produce the final piece completely and autonomously. Also, these companies ranked Gen AI’s help higher for most tasks than those who did not invest in prompt libraries.

    Most of the companies that have prompt libraries use Gen AI’s help in creating Blog posts (77.78%), Social posts (70.83%), Emails (62.50%), and Website copy (54.17%). Half of these companies use Gen AI multiple times a day (they are more frequent users).

    And what are the results? More than 60% of these companies stated that Gen AI improved the quality of their content. About 53% of companies that do not invest in prompt libraries share this belief.

    More than half of the companies with prompt libraries stated that they save more than 50% of time with Generative AI, while most companies who do not invest in prompt libraries save up to 49% of the time.

    Nihan Colak Erol of Wingie says that this company’s team uses gen AI mainly for ad copy. “We have a large prompt library that we created over the span of a few months,” Colak Erol elaborates, “ so when we need to create new ads, we simply copy and paste the prompts that we need and let ChatGPT do most of the rest of the work.

    We do still go back and make edits or tweak the wording a bit, either manually or by giving ChatGPT additional instructions, but this only takes a small fraction of the time it would take to create ad copy entirely from scratch.”

    Our own team at Databox also has go-to prompts when it comes to creating LinkedIn posts.

    “We have a group of team members who listen to our podcast, then write up something about it on Linkedin,” says Peter Caputa, Databox CEO. “This helps our team learn and also helps us evangelize our podcast and our company. However, the process was a bit slow because much of the team were confused by some of the concepts being discussed on the podcast and many of the team members weren’t comfortable writing. So, we started using ChatGPT to help our team learn about new business concepts, write a first draft for their LinkedIn posts, and correct their grammar.”

    “Creating prompt libraries can be time-consuming as they require a lot of trial and error.  The investment has been worth it as we are now seeing the benefits. If I were to select the top benefit it would be consistency in the output which makes the content more authentic. Finding the right prompts for specific individuals allows to help generate more social media content and requires less editing afterward.”

    Perry Nalevka

    Perry Nalevka

    CEO at Penguin Strategies

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    Steve Hutt of eCommerce Fastlane shares exactly what prompt he uses to have AI expand on the content he already has:

    “Write 5 paragraphs, including a paragraph title with more content that was missing in the article but necessary to make the article complete. I also need a 2 paragraph summary in the second-person voice, of the content I shared, along with the content you created. And finally, I need 15 frequently asked questions for the end of the article. Please write the questions and the short answers. It’s ok and recommended to include questions and answers that the content has yet to discuss but are essential to be listed in a frequently asked questions section. Please add the text “Frequently Asked Questions” at the start of your text. Do not number the questions you create. Do not put the letter A in front of your answer. Do not put the letter Q in front of your question. Do not use “*” in the content you produce: (I copy-paste the blog I have so far here)”

    5 Things Gen AI Still Can’t Do (But are on Marketers’ Wishlists)

    Even the best generative AI tools have their limitations, so there’s still plenty that artificial intelligence can’t do for marketers. We asked them what they’d like to see AI achieve next.

    Understand Specific Niches

    Marketing professionals, especially those work in content, hope for AI to be able to understand specific fields and niches, as some topics are easier to write about, while others are more demanding, according to Noah Stambovsky of Modern Driven Media.

    “For example, I wanted to use AI to assist me in writing an e-guide I had just published, but ChatGPT didn’t really know the topic well, and gave me stuff that was very false. I did use a long prompt and had GPT write follow-up marketing emails for the guide,” explains Stambovsky.

    AI obviously (still) can’t match humans—at least not the best writers who really get into the details when writing product-led content.

    “Human writers still seem to have an edge when it comes to providing authentic and detailed insights for product-focused content,” says Dominic Wells of Onfolio. “I’d love for the AI to be more proficient in generating product reviews or “best of” posts. During the trial phase, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the results in these particular niches.  If AI could improve in this regard, it would further streamline our content creation process and make it even more comprehensive.”

    Create More Personalized Content

    Personalized content resonates more deeply with individual audience members, capturing their attention and leading to higher engagement rates. When content speaks directly to their interests, needs, or pain points, people are more likely to interact with it.

    That’s one of the reasons marketers wish that Gen AI could create more personalized content in the future.

    “As a digital marketing agency, one area where we wish Generative AI could help more is the creation of dynamic, customized, and context-aware content for each user in real-time,” shares Milena Vasileva of Presitely.

    “Currently, AI tools can produce generic content, and even somewhat personalized content based on gathered data, but the level of personalization and contextual understanding is still limited. It would be a real innovation it could generate highly targeted, context-specific content that takes into account the user’s current situation – the time of day, their intent and possible state of mind, and their interaction with the site.”

    Brands that excel in personalization stand out in a crowded marketplace, so personalized content can bring a significant competitive advantage, attracting and retaining customers who appreciate the tailored experience.

    Create Written Content Based on Videos

    AI’s capability to convert video content into written formats significantly amplifies content accessibility, SEO optimization, repurposing opportunities, and audience engagement, empowering marketers to create more versatile and impactful marketing campaigns.

    While it’s true that videos can be transcribed, and then converted into meaningful text using AI, markeres wish this process were faster and more direct.
    For example, if they could “easily upload a video and have it create blogs or other short form written content; possibly social posts or ads,” it’d be incredibly helpful, according to Holly Dowden from Ntiva.

    Provide More Accurate and Original Information

    Gen AI does speed up your writing and research, but you still need to do fact-checking before you hit the “Publish” button.

    “We continue to use AI in light applications because we continue to find that the content created by AI does not always sound human, is not always accurate, and is not fully unique,” shares Jordan Brannon of Coalition Technologies

    “This is a bigger problem for SEO in our eyes. Over time, if the tool is able to create content that sounds more human, is fully unique, and is 100% factually accurate, that would be of interest to us.”

    The lack of accuracy may be due to the lack of critical thinking, according to Layla Acharya from Edwize.

    “While AI has made impressive progress in natural language processing and generation, it struggles to engage in deep analysis, evaluate information critically, and make insightful connections between diverse concepts,” explains Acharya.

    “Unlike humans who can weigh pros and cons, identify biases, and form independent judgments, AI is bound by its programming and training data, making it less capable of offering nuanced perspectives or original insights. The absence of true critical thinking in AI restricts its ability to provide truly comprehensive and contextually relevant responses, particularly in complex or ambiguous situations.”

    Melissa Caverly of Imagine Maids agrees—she wishes for AI to apply common sense when answering prompts.

    “Now AI only gives the answer to the prompt that is specifically questioned. It needs a detailed explanation. If some common sense is applied to AI then it could give an accurate idea,” says Caverly.

    Empathize with the Audience

    AI’s ability to empathize with the audience remains an aspiration for marketers. While AI excels in data-driven personalization, understanding nuanced human emotions, context, and non-verbal cues—key elements of empathy—still represents a challenge.

    “I wish generative AI could precisely anticipate and mimic the emotional reactions of consumers to advertisements, goods, or brand experiences,” Luke Hancock of Bin There Dump That comments.

    “Even though contemporary AI models have made considerable progress in their ability to comprehend natural language and produce original material, accurately capturing the subtleties of human emotions is still a difficult task. If AI could genuinely comprehend how various campaigns generate feelings like joy, trust, or enthusiasm, it could revolutionize marketing by enabling the development of emotionally resonant and impactful tactics, ultimately resulting in better relationships between businesses and consumers.”

    Marketers seek AI advancements that can interpret emotions, empathize with individual experiences, and respond contextually, fostering deeper connections and resonating on a more human level with the audience. Achieving this level of empathy in AI would elevate personalized interactions, making them more authentic and genuinely attuned to individual needs and emotions.

    “One thing I wish Generative AI could help with is truly understanding and empathizing with our customers’ unique challenges and emotions. While it can generate content based on given prompts, it lacks the ability to deeply comprehend the human aspect of customer interactions, which is crucial for providing personalized and empathetic responses in sales and support scenarios,” explains Derrick Hathaway, VEM-Medical.

    Leverage Gen AI Benchmarks for Growth

    While the majority of companies have yet to embrace the practice of investing in prompt libraries, the findings from this survey indicate that there are multiple advantages for those who do: they save more time and get more help from Gen AI tools. 

    In general, companies, especially agencies, use Generative AI as “an assistant” in multiple phases of content creation. However, the human element remains irreplaceable. This is supported by the finding that a significant number of users feel Gen AI tools lack the essential ‘human touch’ and the ability to read emotions.

    “Generating truly original and creative ideas is still better achieved through human creativity. […] While Generative AI can provide assistance and inspiration, human expertise remains crucial for crafting engaging and valuable blog post content,” confirms Oliver Goodwin of Synthesys AI Studio.

    All in all, as technology evolves, it’s crucial to maintain a synergy between AI efficiency and human creativity, ensuring that the final output resonates on a more personal and emotional level.

    If you want to keep up with how other marketers use generative AI to ideate, produce, and amplify content, join our Penguin Strategies Benchmark Group for B2B Tech & SaaS Companies and leverage the data to make the most out of AI tools and support your growth in 2024.

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