The creators making their AI clones do all the work


Issue #129 | Your reading time this week is 5 mins. 45 secs.

Welcome back to the Creator Briefing.

Here’s just some of what I’ve been thinking about this week:

  • Marketers are upbeat about 2024

  • AI-clone live streamers working 24/7

  • 81% of Aussie influencers’ posts raise concerns

  • What the runners-up to this year’s word-of-the-year say about our sector

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61% of marketers upbeat about 2024

  • 61% of marketers expect business to improve in 2024.

  • Regions most upbeat about business growth:

    • 50% of APAC marketers expect budgets to increase next year

    • 37% of European marketers

    • 35% of US marketers

  • Global marketing investment is set to increase 8.2% in 2024.

  • Global marketing spending will top US$1 trillion for the first time

  • Further shift from analogue to digital channels

This is according to The Voice of the Marketer 2024 - WARC’s annual survey of 1400+ marketers worldwide aimed at uncovering their opinions on key issues for the year ahead.

The creators farming out their work to AI clones

Reckon you could eat a chicken’s foot? How about eating chicken feet for 15 hours straight? Tawainese influencer Chen Yiru livestreamed footage of himself doing just that to his 9m Weibo followers. 

Except, it wasn’t him at all. The livestream was AI generated. Virtual influencers have now entered the livestream world. 

Acquisition costs associated with creating virtual influencers have tumbled in recent years both in financial terms and in the labour needed to build them. 

With around $1,000 and a few minutes of sample video, Chinese start-up firm Silicon Intelligence will build you a passable virtual influencer clone. You want it more life-like? Or the ability to have your synthetic you spot live comments whilst livestreaming and find matching answers in its database to answer in real time? That’ll cost you a little more. 

The price includes the first year of maintenance, so once the livestream creator has stumped up the money and provided some video they need only provide some rudimentary info such as name and price of the product they’re promoting. Even the need to write a script has been replaced by Silicon Intelligence’s use of large language modelling.

We noted in last week’s Creator Briefing that virtual influencers flooding the sector risk driving down payment terms to human influencers. It appears this is already happening in the Chinese livestream market.

According to MIT Technology Review ecommerce livestream hosting jobs are scarcer this year compared wth last. And pay is getting worse, too. The publication quotes findings from analytics firm iiMedia Research which says the average salary for livestream hosts in China went down 20% in 2023 compared to 2022.


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Bud Light debacle revisited - an interview with Dylan Mulvaney

Dylan Mulvaney, the transgender creator at the centre of Bud Light influencer marketing controversy earlier this year, has given an insightful video interview to Forbes.

Mulvaney doesn’t mention Bud Light by name during the 18-minute interview with Kristin Stoller but she offers advice to fellow creators and to brands about what to look for when considering brand/creator collaborations. 

CATCH ME UP QUICK: Anheuser-Busch-owned beer brand Bud Light worked with Dylan Mulvaney, a 26-year-old American actress, singer and content creator, on an influencer marketing campaign. Mulvaney is transgender. Old-guard fans of the beer didn’t like this. Ted Nugent declared it “the epitome of cultural deprivation.” Aged rocker Kid Rock filmed himself shootin’ up some beer cans in protest. The beer firm lost 17% in sales over night.

When asked by Stoller whether the experience with the brand had affected who Mulvaney partners with in the future the creator respsonded:

“Absolutely, I now realise that when I work with a brand they will forever be part of my story. And so I want to make sure we’re on the same page going forward. And I want there to be a mutual respect and not only for me but for my community. (6 min 23 sec mark)

Mulvaney then offered advice for when brands are looking to partner with a specific creator: “Talk to us, watch our content. [Ask] do we want to put out the same type of things into the world? And I think especially when it comes to working with trans talent there just has to be some communication there, there needs to be some advocacy outside of ‘inclusive marketing’. 

Misconceptions about influencers were then addressed: “The common misconception is that we’re these characters or that we’re not realy humans that [sic] have feelings,” explained Mulvaney. (9 min 29 sec mark).

We’ve covered the Bud Light controversy in Creator Briefing #102 where we looked at corporate courage (or seemingly lack of) and in #104 where the beer firm said the ad wasn’t an ad. 

IZEA gains Aussie foothold with Hoozu buy for region expansion

IZEA Worldwide has acquired Sydney-HQed Hoozu with plans to buy further firms in the region. 

Hoozu is an influencer marketing agency which includes a talent roster called Huume. The firm will continue to be led by Natalie Giddings who has been CEO since 2021 when Hoozu acquired Giddings’ own influencer shop, The Remarkables Group. 

Brands: be careful with your social listening

The marketing world went cray cray for Stanley after a video was shared online of one of its insulated cups surviving a car fire and keeping its contents ice-cold.

Stanley’s president responded to the TikTok offering to buy a new car for the woman who lost hers to fire and posted about it. 

Outdoor clothing brand, The North Face, recently turned online criticism to its advantage, through adept social listening and response. 

A hiker in New Zealand uploaded a TikTok complaining that her North Face waterproof jacket was not … waterproof. “I don’t want a refund. I want you to redesign this raincoat to make it waterproof and express delivery up to the top of Hooker Valley Lake in New Zealand, where I will be waiting.”

The coat brand listened and responded. They posted a TikTok showing someone running into a shop, grabbing a new North Face, jumping into a helicopter then giving the new jacket to the hiker-come-creator. 

Another great brand win, and testament to the power of social listening and considered response. 

Boohoo. Not so much. 

The fast-fashion clothing brand recently reacted to a spat between YouTuber Nella Rose and the French fella from First Dates - Fred Sirieix.

In a now-deleted Tweet Boohoo declared “#Nella👎”. Nella Rose fans didn’t appreciate the pile-on or the trolling. The example highlights the importance of a considered response following social listening. 

Word of year shortlist highlights influencer power

So ‘rizz’ made it as Oxford Languages’ word of the year. But the shortlist of neologisms point to the power of influencers. 

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines ‘rizz’ as style, charm, or attractiveness, and the ability to attract a romantic or sexual partner.

Importantly two words from the shortlist of eight are relevant to the creator economy. 

‘Parasocial’ is defined by the OED as “designating a relationship characterized by the one-sided, unreciprocated sense of intimacy felt by a viewer, fan, or follower for a well-known or prominent figure (typically a media celebrity), in which the follower or fan comes to feel (falsely) that they know the celebrity as a friend.”

‘De-influencing’: defined as “the practice of discouraging people from buying particular products, or of encouraging people to reduce their consumption of material goods, esp. via social media [draft definition].”

The finalised definition of de-influencing will be interesting. Will it be neutral or negative towards influencers? Contenders for word of the year are pulled from the number of times the words are used in publications. If more digital column inches are devoted to negative stories of influencer marketing expect to see more neologisms with negative influencer connotations as our sector continues to grow.  

Meta and IBM launch AI Alliance

Instagram and Facebook owner, Meta has joined forces with IBM to promote “open innovation and open science in AI”. Launched this week with 50+ other AI firms and research institutions the AI Alliance supports open source, an approach in which technology is shared free and via collaboration.

81% of Aussie influencers’ posts raised concerns

81% of social media influencers reviewed were making posts that raised concerns under the Australian Consumer Law about potentially misleading marketing according to findings from Australian Competition and Consumer Commission  (ACCC’s) internet sweep of testimonials and endorsements by influencers published today (07 Dec 2023). 

To understand the nature and extent of advertising in social media posts made by Australian influencers, brands and marketers, the ACCC conducted an internet sweep (‘the sweep’). The sweep took place between 23 January 2023 and 3 February 2023 and looked at a total of 118 individual influencer accounts across social media platforms Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook, and the livestreaming service, Twitch. 

The most common issue identified in the sweep was influencers not disclosing whether they are receiving payment, gifts or other incentives to promote brands, products or services in posts. This issue was identified in high proportions across all sectors swept. 

Some influencers had made efforts to show a commercial arrangement but hadn’t effectively made it obvious that their ads were ads. For instance several influencers had tagged or thanked brands in posts. Many had included discount codes to products or shown products overtly in their content. 

Biased sampling

Importantly, prior to conducting the sweep, the ACCC asked the public for tip-offs about influencers who do not disclose advertising in their posts. 

It received 150 tip-offs via the ACCC’s social media accounts which were incorporated into the sweep process. This may have resulted in a higher number of influencers identified as making concerning posts, than if the sweep had been conducted without using these tip-offs.  

The ACCC is transparent about its biased sampling. As was the ASA in its 2021 sweep of repeat offending Instagram influencers. However, the nuance of the UK ad regulators’ sampling was lost in the ensuing headlines. I have written more here

We covered the interim findings from the ACCC’s sweep back in Creator Briefing #103

Building the perfect TikTok ad

CreatorIQ partnered with TikTok to learn what makes a top performing creator ad. Here are the five data-backed findings:

  1. Grab attention quickly

  2. Build a connection with the viewer

  3. Show your product in the wild

  4. Use sound, text overlay and other high-impact creative elements

  5. Close with a clear CTA

Pinterest Predicts is back

Explore the breakout trends for 2024 and browse them on Pinterest. Think: Jazz Revival where we’re told that  “In 2024, Millennials and Gen Z will trade in their electronic beats for something far more retro: vintage jazz. 

This trend extends beyond funk playlists: Jazz-inspired outfits, Jazz-inspired outfits, dimly lit venues and lo-fi looks are all on the rise. Take notes as the younger generation looks to the past to make this saxy aesthetic their own. Because everything old really is new again.

  • Jazz aesthetic clothing +180%

  • Jazz funk +75%

  • Jazz bar outfit +75%

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