What Computer Generated Famebots Can Teach This Budding Industry
In this prepubescent era of Influencer Marketing, the growing pains are just as palpable as the anticipation of the next viral tweet. Every month it seems there’s a new Influencer scandal from Fyre Fest to Olivia Jade. Though these examples are not representative of talent campaigns run by our in-house YouTube Specialty Agency Touchstorm, there is a thread of reckoning in the industry when it comes to language around transparency in the social space. The expectations for Influencers is shifting away from total authenticity, and at the same time, the growth of CGI accounts is contributing to this new narrative.
The reckoning is not limited to the industry professionals but is also occurring amongst the audiences as each has been sold the promise of an “authentic” creator brand. In reality, no Insta-famous talent is presenting reality one hundred percent of the time. As industry professionals, we view Influencers as talented storytellers. Does this mean outright lying is acceptable? No. #Ad #Sponsored should absolutely be required, if not more.
The Influence of CGInfluencers
We argue that when a user converts to fan status and clicks “subscribe” they don’t like the Influencer as a person, they like their personality. The difference? One is the off-camera human — mundane, authentic. The other, with 1.1M subscribers, is the cherry on top of their human story.
But when we say, “not all Influencers are people,” we are referring to the CGI personalities that are successfully breaking into the social space. These CGInfluencers are forcing the industry to redefine transparency, which will have a huge ripple effect: according to The Public Relations Society of America, this industry is projected to grow and reach $2 billion in the next two years.
Meet The Next Generation of Influencers
While there are many creative agencies hopping on the CGI bandwagon, Brud Agency (yes, their website is a Google Doc) has successfully created a web of Instagram accounts starting with the fashionably woke millennial, Lil Miquela, her best friend Blawko, and his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Bermuda Is Bae. Lil Miquela also has 140K monthly listeners on Spotify, a popular Depop account where she sells her trendy wares, and an online shop where fans can purchase items adorned with her face. And according to VideoAmigo’s Vital Statistics tool, Lil Miquela’s YouTube Channel has nearly doubled in Subscribers over the course of this year.
The Future of CGInfluencers
These Instagrammers have landed competitive brand deals with the likes of Prada, Tinder, and more. And while most of their fans understand and acknowledge that these Influencers are not real by leaving regular comments about robots, this shared language actually strengthens the sub-culture on each of these accounts.
But there is a real concern when users do not understand that these are CGI, and according to a study by ADOTAS earlier this year, this confusion is actually quite common. This is especially problematic when it comes to creating unattainable ideas of beauty — an issue that is already pervasive among human Influencers.
Furthermore, according to a 2018 article by Advertising Law, CGI Influencers are held accountable to the same FTC standards that human Influencers are held to. Many are pushing for this to change with a banner that discloses their CGI status.
While we can already see ways that CGI talent can be problematic, they also teach us about community building in the social ecosystem and disprove some of our long-held industry narratives around authenticity. Only time will tell if being really fake is more effective than faking realness.
What do YOU think of GCInfluencers? Is this just the beginning, or a passing fad?
Let us know in the comments.
Maybe add some arithmatic to your comments so we know you’re not a robot. 🤖
Header Photo Source: Lil Miquela’s Facebook Page