Virtual influencers are becoming increasingly popular, particularly in Asia. These computer-generated personas offer the appeal of a human influencer, often at a lesser price and without the limitations or risks of a real person. Their flaws, personalities, and character traits can be molded and controlled. These figures have sizable social media followings and have appeared in fashion campaigns, billboards, and more. Similar to human influencers, they are now even signing modeling contracts, signaling their growing power to influence consumer purchasing decisions via advertising and marketing. For instance, South African virtual influencer Shudu, who is known as “the world’s first digital supermodel,” has been featured by fashion and beauty brands such as Ellesse, Fenty Beauty, and Balmain.
With the rise of metaverses, virtual influencers could become prominent figures in these virtual worlds, as they serve as new platforms for them to interact with fans, followers, and consumers. Startups are offering software platforms for companies to create their own virtual influencers and digital avatars. Given that companies are increasingly using AI to give speech and movement capabilities to digital avatars, the growth of virtual influencers could also lead to the growth of “synthetic media” which use AI-generated content. Yet one more step towards the world Elon Musk foresees, where humans become the pets of their avatars – a strong reason why he plans to populate Mars, one presumes.
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