Watermarking virtual influencers
110 | Turning to creators ahead of journalists for news
Issue #110 | Your reading time this week is 5 mins. 25 secs.
Welcome back to the Creator Briefing. This week we cover why we want our news to come from influencers, not journalists. We look at protecting consumers by watermarking virtual influencer content - and why this idea’s not new. Virtual influencers come to Cannes. Kick poaches top Twitch star in a deal which could hit $100m. And the TikToker who faked his own death to teach his family a ‘life lesson’.
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UK ad market forecast at £36.3 billion in 2024
The UK’s advertising market contracted by 5.8% during Q4 2022, to a total of £8.6bn according to new figures from The Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report.
However, while the number was well behind forecast, the UK's ad market still grew 8.8% during 2022 as a whole – to a value of £34.8bn. The report forecasts the 2024 ad market to be worth £36.3bn
Influence is King
We turn to influencers for news ahead of journalists finds report
Half of us turns to influencers for mainstream news stories ahead of journalists across TikTok (55% vs 33%), Snapchat (55% vs 36%), and Instagram (52% vs 42%) - on YouTube the split is 45% vs 42%. This is according to The 2023 Reuters Institute Digital News Report, published this week.
A 2020 TAKUMI report found that one-in-four consumers were more likely to source news updates and opinions from influencers than from journalists and established news outlets. For younger consumers, the ratio was one-in-three.
This week’s figures from Reuters show that for TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram the ratio has dropped to 1-in-2 users turning to influencers ahead of journalists.
The figures, whilst a boon for the creator economy, do throw up questions around disinformation and misinformation. Good decision-making depends on people having reliable, accurate facts placed before them within a meaningful context.
The skill of engaging storytelling binds the influencer to the journalist. But, journalism is storytelling with a purpose accomplished through assembling and verifying facts to produce a “functional truth.”
The Reuters Insitute Digital News Report started tracking how social media users engaged with news stories in 2021. I wrote about Instagram as a news source at the time.
Watermark virtual influencers urges Ogilvy
WPP-owned Ogilvy has launched the AI Accountability Act seeking AI-generated influencers to be disclosed via a hashtag or new marker designated by social media platforms.
The Ogilvy initiative chimes with recommendations made in the past by the Influencer Marketing Trade Body. In August 2021 IMTB wrote to the UK Parliament's inquiry on influencer culture advocating that virtual influencers should be watermarked.
Parliament’s resulting report noted IMTB’s suggestion (paragraph 38) and recommended that “the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) introduce a requirement to the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising (CAP Code) for virtual influencers to be watermarked. (paragraph 39)”.
TikTok is already on the case. It updated its community guidelines in March stating content featuring realistic-looking virtual influencers had to be marked to show the creators were not humans: "Synthetic or manipulated media that shows realistic scenes must be clearly disclosed. This can be done through the use of a sticker or caption, such as ‘synthetic’, ‘fake’, ‘not real’, or ‘altered’".
ASCI, India’s advertising regulator, became the first national ad watchdog to cover virtual influencers within its disclosure guidelines. I wrote about this initiative in August 2021.
DECLARATION: - I lead the Influencer Marketing Trade Body. Ogilvy is a founding member of our professional membership organisation. Ogilvy’s global head of influence, Rahul Titus, sits on our board.
Rise and re-rise of virtual influencers
Virtual influencers take on the nomenclature of the moment. Their popularity with marketers ebbs and flows with the zeitgeist. For a long while these synthetic humans were called virtual influencers. Last year they became metaverse influencers. Today they’re increasingly referred to as AI influencers.
As their popularity waxes once more Ogilvy has created the AI-Generated Influencer Centre of Excellence in Vietnam. The endeavour is slated to deliver end-to-end consultancy, virtual influencer creation, and AI-powered storytelling for brands globally.
Rae, the virtual influencer, comes to Cannes
Tomorrow (Thursday 22 June) Rae, one of Asia’s top virtual influencers, will be explaining to delegates at the Cannes Festival of Creativity how brands can use virtual influencers to take bigger creative risks and create long-lasting consumer connections. The session will help answer why Gen Z has connected so meaningfully with virtual influencers and how brands can leverage this trend.
Launched in 2019, Rae has 1m+ followers on Weibo with a growing community on Instagram. The virtual influencer has done brand collaborations with cult labels, musicians, fashion designers and global brands.
Meta releases 'human-like' A.I. image creation model
Meta this week said it would provide researchers with access to components of a new "human-like" artificial intelligence model that it said can analyze and complete unfinished images more accurately than existing models.
According to Meta I-JEPA demonstrates the potential of architectures for learning competitive off-the-shelf image representations.
Blame it on Beyoncé
Danske Bank’s chief economist for Sweden Michael Grahn tweeted this week that Beyoncé’s decision to kick off her world tour in the country had kept inflation stubbornly high.
🇸🇪 Beyonce's start of her world tour in Sweden seems to have coloured May inflation, how much is uncertain, but probably 0.2 p.p. of the 0.3 p.p that hotels/restaurants added. Perhaps also hiked concert ticket prices (recreation). Otherwise as expected.
— Michael Grahn (@MichaelGrahn1)
Jun 14, 2023
MrBeast ‘moving on’ from MrBeast Burgers
MrBeast tweeted this week that he was moving on from MrBeast Burgers. “I started MrBeast Burger to help restaurants make more $ during the pandemic and it worked!” wrote the Youtuber and businessman. “But sadly when working with 2,000 restaurants I don’t own it’s impossible to guarantee the order quality.”
The tweet was removed the same day it was posted. But, Jimmy Donaldson did respond to a fan asking about the restaurants saying “the problem with Beast Burger is i can’t guarantee the quality of the order. When working with other restaurants it’s impossible to control it sadly
“And tbh I just enjoy Feastables 100x more. Making snacks is awesome and something I’m way more passionate about.”
The decision to wind down his involvement in the fast-food chain is one of brand safety both in terms of being seen to promote healthier food over junk food and a desire to ensure a quality end-product - a near-impossible mission when operating virtually through third-party ghost kitchens.
We’ve noted previously the importance of marrying influence with control and aptitude. In January I wrote: “If MrBeast Burgers suck, it will negatively impact Jimmy Donaldson’s other businesses … . Creators supply the distribution and the marketing firepower. Get the proposition right and you’ve got an opportunity for recurring revenue. For longevity in the space, however, the product has to be good.”
Twitch loses top male & female streamers to Kick
Twitch has just lost two of its top streamers to rival platform Kick within days of each other.
Twitch star Félix Lengyel, aka xQc, has signed a $100m deal with rival platform, Kick. According to the New York Times, the two-year deal could see the Canadian streamer earn $70m plus up to an additional $30m in incentives.
Within 24 hours of the xQc announcement Amouranth took to Twitter to announce she, too, was off to join Kick.
📺It may be no coincidence given the double-whammy of xQc and Amouranth exiting Twitch that the platform has just rushed out the announcement of its Partner Plus Program. Set to go live October 1st, eligible streamers will receive a 70/30 revenue share on net subscription revenue (revenue from recurring monthly subscriptions and gift subs), for 12 months up to US$100K.
🎙️Meghan Markle's Spotify podcast Archetypes will not be renewed by Spotify for a second season. The Sussexes, Meghan and Harry, reportedly signed a £15m deal in 2020. It is unlikely they shall now see the majority of that pay cheque. Bill Simmons, head of podcast innovation and monetisation at Spotify, labelled the two ex-royals: “fucking grifters”.
👕PewDiePie has rebranded and launched new merch. PewDiePie, real name Felix Kjellberg, collaborated with creative agency, Paper Crowns on the new branding. “We thought, ‘Let’s replace the brofist.’ Let’s grow this up slightly, and also move away from any kind of rebellious connotation that could maybe be seen with a fist in a logo.” -- Lukas Haen, art director at Paper Crowns tells Digiday.
🥽Meta is to reduce the minimum age for the Quest from 13 to 10 years old. But, Meta won’t show them ads. And, parents will need to approve the creation of a kid’s account first [New York Times].
🤷♀️A Belgian TikToker faked their own death to teach his family a ‘life lesson’ and then turned up to his own funeral [Sky News].
🤷Creator faked cancer for clout [South China Morning Post].
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