Business ideas for 2021: Virtual influencers #StartUps - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Thursday, December 31, 2020

Business ideas for 2021: Virtual influencers #StartUps

Why are virtual influencers a good business idea?

In order to understand the virtual influencer business opportunity, we need to understand Lilmiquela.

She’s your typical GenZ Instagram star. She likes posing in trendy outfits, shouting about progressive causes, hanging out with her friends at LA hotspots, and ranting about her ex-boyfriend Nick in overlong videos about how her life is falling to pieces. But she's entirely digital.

Created by Los Angeles-based ‘transmedia studio’ Brud, Lilmiquela is unquestionably the world’s most popular virtual influencer, with 2.8 million followers on Instagram and counting (there is a Brazilian virtual influencer with 4.2 million followers, but her reach is entirely limited to Brazil).

According to a report from OnBuy in August 2020, LilMiquela is estimated to earn around £6,550 per post for her creators, putting her (Brud’s) yearly earnings at something like £8.9m!

Her followers tell her that they love her, and even step in to defend her from body shaming. She’s also released music, graced fashion magazine covers, and worked with Vans, Prada, Chanel, Supreme, Calvin Klein, and Balenciaga.

In short, what we have is a completely controllable CGI influencer, who can’t be exploited or trolled, or wind up in some controversy, but who can still effectively promote brands to her following.

Virtual influencers don’t even have to look real. The world’s 10th most successful virtual influencer is Noonoouri. She has cartoonishly big eyes and doll-like proportions, yet she’s worked with Dior and Kim Kardashian, and is reported to earn her creator Joerg Zuber around £1,382 per post.

Let’s look at the stats. According to an October 2020 report from HypeAuditor – an AI-powered Instagram account authenticity checking platform – virtual influencers experience nearly three times more engagement than their physical counterparts, with females in the 18-34 age range by far the most likely to engage. And in the UK, claims that 54% of all consumers find virtual entities appealing on some level.

On the face of it, this seems bizarre. Why would people be more engaged with an openly fictional avatar than with a real person? Maybe because we’re all a lot more savvy and cynical about the nature of influencer marketing now – we know it’s not authentic. We know they’re being paid to endorse things they might have no interest in, so why not ramp up the artificiality by making the influencer artificial as well? At least it’s honestly fake.

There are, of course, some downsides to virtual influencers.

For a start, the upfront costs of building a realistic 3D model can be very high, not to mention the skills needed. And if you don’t get it quite right, you run the risk of entering the uncanny valley, that uncomfortable sensation people experience when they interact with something that’s not quite human enough.

via by Henry Williams, Khareem Sudlow