Deepfakes create ‘liar's dividend’ eroding trust


Issue #131 | Your reading time this week is 6 mins. 30 secs.

Welcome back to the Creator Briefing.

Here’s just some of what we’re looking at this week:

  • 44% of US brands to up influencer marketing spend by 25% in 2024

  • UK ad spend to tip £39bn this year

  • Finfluencers are in the spotlight in a new report

  • How AI “destabilizes the concept of truth itself”

  • Plus three stories about MrBeast

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UK ad spend to tip £39bn in 2024

Projected ad spend this year has been upwardly revised to £39bn, representing a YoY rise of 5.9% according to new WARC/Advertising Association data.

UK advertising spend rose by 15.9% to a total of £9.6bn in Q3 2023. 

Buoyed by a 24.8% spike in online display (including social media) it’s the first time advertising spend has topped £9bn in Q3.

“Our forecasts indicate the advertising industry is performing better than the wider UK economy, with spend expected to reach £39bn in 2024. All this should provide confidence that the industry is well positioned to help the UK’s economy tackle the economic and social challenges it faces, by promoting product and service innovation, stimulating competition and supporting jobs.”

Stephen Woodford, CEO, Advertising Association

Q4 budgets rose for 1-in-4 marketers

1-in-4 (26%) marketers saw total marketing budgets rise in Q4 2023 according to the latest IPA bellwether. Just 11.3% of panel marketers polled registered cuts.

Latest figures show increased marketing spend at 44.5% of respondents. This is 3x (15.1%) larger than the percentage of marketers cutting back budgets in the 2024/25 period.

It’s not all Processco and Pringles, however. The UK economy is expected to begin 2024 in a shallow recession - we looked at how our sector can outpace a recession back in Creator Briefing #123.


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44% of advertisers set to up influencer marketing budgets in 2024

44% of US advertisers plan to increase their investment in content creators in 2024 with an average spending increase of 25% according to research from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and research agency TalkShoppe.  

Other key stats from the report:

  • 39% report watching more creator content now versus last year

  • 89% of advertisers view influencer marketing positively  

  • Creator ads have a 1.4x greater impact on building brand loyalty and a 1.3x greater impact on inspiring brand advocacy than studio content

  • Ads around creator content have a greater impact on the consumer research and consideration phases of the purchase funnel than studio content

  • Creator content sparks action: compared to studio-produced content, after watching consumers were significantly more likely to search for additional content about the topic and interact with the content by liking, commenting, or subscribing.

“Creator content marketing is a powerful vehicle for driving full-funnel impact, and advertisers are finding tremendous success adding it to their marketing mix alongside studio content advertising”

Jack Koch, senior vice president of research and insights, IAB

Gleam Futures closes its talent-management arm

Gleam Futures has shuttered its talent arm - the side of the business most known within the industry. 

Many digital column inches mark the closure as the ending of an era and reference its pioneering founder Dom Smales who set up the talent biz back in 2010. 

Smales stewarded a hugely successful team here in the UK and overseas in America and Australia launching global brands, movies, TV shows, podcasts, books, and of course brokering thousands of brand partnerships.

Of course, Smales fully exited the business over three years ago. Soon after he joined me on my Influencer Marketing Lab podcast to look back on a decade of change within our industry and to look forward to the next few years of change. 

We met again this week for breakfast and discussed our sector’s many opportunities. 

Finfluencers in focus for new CFA Institute report

New research from the CFA Institute spotlights the growing impact of financial influencers (“finfluencers”) on the Gen Z investor experience.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Gen Z investors turn to finfluencers for guidance on investment decisions

  • Lack of financial literacy and perceived cost of advice drive people to finfluencer content

  • CFA Institute calls for more action by regulators and industry

The report, Finfluencer Appeal: Investing in the Age of Social Media, from the global association of investment professionals, highlights that insufficient financial literacy, limited interaction with regulated financial advisers, and a preference for obtaining information through digital platforms, drives Gen Zers to engage with finfluencer content.

The research identifies key characteristics of finfluencer content through an original analysis of content on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram in the US, the UK, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The report then makes a series of recommendations. 

In July 2023 the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial regulator, announced proposals for new social media guidance intended to modernise the information firms should use when promoting financial products or services online including via finfluencers.

Omni-Beast aka Jimmy goes to China

It’s been a busy week for MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) and platforms - first he placed an ad or X (formerly Twitter) which prompted Musk to skew all types of amplification and ad revenue policy - more on that below. Then he began posting on Bilibili -  the Chinese video platform. 

According to Bloomberg he also plans to join Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, as well as the Twitter-like platform Weibo. 

Why Bilibili first? because it’s a lot like YouTube, says Eyal Baumel, the guy managing MrBeast’s rollout in China.

Mr Beast exposes ad policy absurdity at X

I won’t expend too much bluster on this one. It’s been done to death over the last few days. But briefly, MrBeast uploaded a three-month-old YouTube clip to X (formerly Twitter). A week later the clip had generated over $260k in ad revenue. 

$263,655 in fact from 156,685,975 impressions. The suspicion is that Musk’s team amped the post but didn’t count the amped impressions due to a policy loophole.

Anyhoo. This is great news for creators trying to earn coin from the platform, right? Not so much. Many are complaining they’re paid pennies by comparison. The stunt ended up making Musk’s platform look less appealing to creators rather than more. 

Why we should care? Musk doesn’t want you to think of his platform as a moderation-light, bigot-heavy social media platform. Earlier this month Musk declared X a ‘video first platform’.

MrBeast gets Primed

MrBeast is near to inking a deal with Amazon’s Prime Video. 

Rumoured to be worth $100m by Puck News the deal would see MrB create a reality competition for the broadcaster. 

Why it matters: Interestingly tech analyst Benedict Evans foreshadowed this type of platform crossover deal in his annual presentation at the start of 2023. 

Titled: ‘The New Gatekeepers’ Evans asked readers to consider the very essence of a TV show today. Evans’ contention: that MrBeast had a comparable total viewing time to a top 10 Netflix show. MrBeast has added a further 100m subscribers since (see Creator Briefing #122).

Linear TV suffers another blow as Netflix makes first big shift into live events

Netflix has bought the exclusive rights to WWE’s Raw marking the streamer’s first big shift into live events. The company has also recorded a stellar Q4. It signed up 13.1 million new customers in the final three months of 2023.

This will further speed the decline in ad spend on linear TV.

TV & Video Advertising remains advertising’s largest market with a market volume of US$339.70bn in 2024. Its dominance over total ad spend is falling fast, however. In 2018 TV made up 18% This year it’s forecast to dip to 11%.

Ryan Broderick, writing in Garbage Day, said:

“People like to watch a lot of TV and they’d prefer to (usually) watch it whenever they feel like, rather than in linear schedules. Just feels like Hollywood — and Silicon Valley — spent a hell of a lot of money to end up with On Demand cable again”.

How much of the pie for influencer marketing?

Though, in 2023 influencer marketing accounted for just 3.25% of total advertising spend, four years ago it comprised only 1.8% and in four years time it’s forecast to reach 4%. 

Influencer marketing spend in the US is set to grow around 3.5 times faster in 2023 than social ad spend - according to Insider Intelligence (see Creator Briefing #117).

Deepfakes create ‘liars dividend’ eroding trust

Last week (Creator Briefing #130) we noted that 2024 is the biggest global election year in history with more than 50 elections being held. We forecast these elections will be the first on record significantly influenced by … influencer marketing. 

We also talked about political deepfakes and how 143 deep-fake video advertisements impersonating UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak were created and paid to be promoted on Meta’s platform between 08 Dec. 2023 and 08 Jan. 2024 - according to research from Fenimore Harper Communications.

This week I want to touch on what one academic has termed ‘the liars dividend’ - how Donald Trump is now attempting to pass off some of his past real-life gaffes as examples of AI deepfakery.

Trump recently rubbished a video ad which compiled some of the former president’s well-documented public gaffes. Taking to Truth Social he wrote “The perverts and losers at the failed and once disbanded Lincoln Project, and others, are using A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) in their Fake television commercials.” 

Liars dividend

AI creates a “liar’s dividend,” says Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studies digital propaganda and misinformation. In an interview with the Washington Post Prof Farid continues “When you actually do catch a police officer or politician saying something awful, they have plausible deniability” in the age of AI.

Libby Lange, an analyst at Graphika, the misinformation tracking organisation, was also interviewed by WaPo. She told the paper that AI “destabilizes the concept of truth itself.”

Lange concludes with some chilling words: “If everything could be fake, and if everyone’s claiming everything is fake or manipulated in some way, there’s really no sense of ground truth. Politically motivated actors, especially, can take whatever interpretation they choose.”

Edelman Trust Barometer: Opportunity for creators to shine as credible voices

The 2024 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals consumers fear an information war (61%) more than ever. Fear of misinformation and disinformation jumped by six points from last year, the biggest increase among societal fears. 

The report also reveals an increase in the belief that societal leaders, including journalists (64%); politicians (63%); and CEOs (61%); are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false.

This presents an opportunity for influencers to fill this credibility void. Creators who are subject matter experts and who build more trust within their communities. I wrote more about this in ‘Understanding Influencers’ for The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Interest Groups, Lobbying and Public Affairs. Palgrave Macmillan (2021).

In essence, successful influencers demonstrate credibility within a defined context - known as source credibility. 

Source credibility has two dimensions: 

  1. trustworthiness

  2. expertise 

Trustworthiness is distinct from trust. Successful creators appear trustworthy in comparison to traditional societal leaders by creating a sense of intimacy with the audience. 

In turn, authenticity is an important sub-element of trustworthiness. Successful creators appear genuine to their followers. Expertise, in this context, may be defined as domain knowledge i.e. specific knowledge in a certain field.

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