Virtual Influencers: Pseudonymity, VTubers, Brand Mascots

“Why hire a celebrity, a supermodel, or even a social media influencer to market your product when you can create the ideal brand ambassador from scratch?” – Tiffany Hsu

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❓ What You’ll Learn

  • How to speak unlimited languages?
  • How to avoid key-person risk?
  • How to use virtual influencers in the real world?
  • What do virtual models have that humans don’t?
  • How to create custom digital characters?
  • How to build a pseudonymous personal brand?
  • What interactive experiences to offer?
  • How to minimize business costs using virtual influencers?
  • What are the most successful virtual influencers?
  • How do virtual influencers affect the relatability of your brand?
  • How to use voice cloning tools?

💎 Why It Matters

Virtual influencers have unlimited time and speak unlimited languages.

They can produce endless content.

🔍 Problem

Human influencers make mistakes and have constraints.

💡 Solution

Virtual influencers remove key-person risk.

You can choose how they look, what they do and where they are.

🏁 Players

Virtual Influencers

  • Squeaky and Roy • Virtual ‘brothers’ of the D’Amelio family.
  • Beefluencer • The first bee influencer raising money to save the bees.
  • Body by Ralph • A fitness influencer that can’t take his own advice.
  • Lu do Magalu • The most followed virtual influencer in the world.

Virtual Influencer Tools

  • Alethea AI • Generates interactive AI Characters from a description in natural language.
  • VSeeFace • Free, highly configurable face and hand-tracking VRM.
  • Reface • Create realistic face swap videos, GIFs and memes with just one selfie.
  • Avatarify • Pick a song, apply it to your photo and share singing portraits.
  • Hologram Labs • Create and play with your ‘digital self’/virtual avatar.

🔮 Predictions

  • Fashion and skincare brands will use virtual models to sell their products. They are faster, cheaper and easier to work with.
    • AI Model Agency is an AI fashion agency that lets brands and models choose from a wide range of styles to create the perfect photo.
    • L’Oréal launched a ‘virtual idol’ in China named Mr. Ou. He’s a 24-year-old eco-activist who works in the fashion industry.
    • Metaverse Architects’ AI model agency offers scalable, customizable and highly accurate virtual models for brands.
    • Tiffany partnered with a virtual influencer AYAYI to model and promote its Knot Collection.
    • ASOS used a virtual model for its augmented reality catwalk.
    • Deep Agency lets you hire virtual models for your project.

☁️ Opportunities

  • Create AI-generated podcasts and videos with customized characters and voices.
  • Build interactive experiences that let audiences interact with “you” whenever they want.

🏔️ Risks

  • Lack of Authenticity • People demand authenticity and relatability from brands which virtual avatars may not have. TikTok requires virtual influencers to be tagged as such. Kyle Vorbach faked his luxury Instagram life with AI.
  • Anonymity • It can be hard to hold anonymous virtual influencers accountable for their business or ethics.

🔑 Key Lessons

  • You can minimize costs. Virtual influencers have minimal recurring production costs and can appear in many places at once.
  • Virtual influencers are easier to control. A human model might feel uncomfortable being used as a virtual assistant on your website. A virtual influencer won’t complain.

🔥 Hot Takes

  • Virtual influencers are not new. Mickey Mouse and Superman share many of the same qualities. They’re 100% controllable, can speak different languages and are “immortal”.
  • Humans and computers will become one. It will become near-impossible to distinguish between robots and humans on the internet.

😠 Haters

“We want to connect with real people. Human influencers are more effective at building emotional connections.”
While authentic human connection will always be valuable. Sometimes it may not fit your budget or schedule. This is when virtual influencers are a good option.

“Virtual influencers create a false sense of reality. They create distorted perceptions of what is possible or desirable for humans.”
Virtual influencers can be used for good or evil. If a creator has deceptive intentions, the virtual influencer will amplify that. Creators are responsible for what their virtual influencers say and do. Platforms are also responsible for holding creators accountable.

“Virtual influencers will be biased by default. If they are trained on unethical data, how can we teach them to be ethical?”
This is a valid concern. Systemic biases will affect how virtual influencers “think” and act. Creators need to make efforts to adjust for this societal flaw in their training data. This article says that virtual influencers will use their ability to mimic human influencers to exploit our emotions.

🔗 Links

  1. Anyone played with Synthesia or D-ID yet? • The tweet behind this report.
  2. Who is Virtual Music Artist and Dancer, Polar? • An interview with the creator behind viral virtual musician POLAR.
  3. ElevenLabs AI Voice Cloning is the Future • A written guide to voice cloning and the ElevenLabs API.

📁 Related Reports

  • ​​​​​Personal Brands • You can scale your personal brand by being or creating virtual influencers.
  • Influencer Marketing • Virtual influencers unlock massive new opportunities for influencer marketing.
  • The Creator Economy • The creators behind virtual influencers are well-positioned to monetize their audiences.
  • Audience-First Products • Virtual influencers will build and sell products within their niche.
  • AI-Generated Content • Most virtual influencers rely on AI-generated content to scale their brand.

🙏 Thanks

Thanks to Meiko S. Patton, Vajresh Balaji, Thomas Sorheim and Uwe Dreissigacker. We had a great time jamming on this report.

✏️ Harry researched and wrote this report. Dru and Emin edited this report.

📈 What else?

Trends PRO #0114 — Virtual Influencers has more insights.

What you’ll get:

  • 11 Virtual Influencers (175% More)
  • 14 Virtual Influencer Tools (180% More)
  • 7 Predictions (133% More)
  • 7 Opportunities (133% More)
  • 5 Risks (150% More)
  • 4 Key Lessons (100% More)
  • 4 Hot Takes (100% More)
  • 9 Links (200% More)

With Trends Pro you’ll learn:

  • (📈 Pro) How will social media platforms enable virtual influencers?
  • (📈 Pro) How to use a virtual influencer as your brand mascot?
  • (📈 Pro) How to humanize your brand?
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  • (📈 Pro) What are the benefits of joining a VTuber agency?
  • (📈 Pro) How to use virtual influencers in the metaverse?
  • (📈 Pro) How to sell a virtual influencer?
  • (📈 Pro) What new jobs do virtual influencers create?
  • (📈 Pro) What legal risks do virtual influencers pose?
  • (📈 Pro) How can the appearance of your virtual influencer help you?
  • (📈 Pro) How to go viral on TikTok?
  • (📈 Pro) How will virtual influencers change our online identities?
  • (📈 Pro) How are virtual influencers growing on Twitch?
  • And much more…

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