What are virtual influencers? Basically, people generated fictional characters from computers, giving this type of influencer the personality of a human being. Because of the lockdown, they are becoming a stronger force in the field of the influencer marketing industry. So where does this leave the real influencers?
The fame and success of CGI influencers
Riot Games Inc is the studio behind the hit mobile game League of Legends. These fellows also created a viral influencer called Seraphine. Now, she has almost 400,000 followers and making an appearance in Shanghai, China to promote her songs. Even though she’s not real, she puts on a mask sometimes.
She can do all of these things while real social media stars cannot travel and must stay home. Meanwhile, more brands are getting the idea of hiring virtual influencers. According to Business Insider Intelligence, there’s a forecast that they can spend as much as USD15 billion yearly on influencer marketing two years from now. A growing portion of that budget goes to virtual influencers while old school marketing is slowly dying.
We forgot to mention that Seraphine is also a playable character on League of Legends. She draws the attention of as many as 8 million daily users. According to Travers, she’s just one of 125 active influencers. There are about 50 that got announced on social media in the past 18 months. On YouTube only, there are more than 5,000 virtual influencers.
The creative director of Seraphine’s character Patrick Morales noted that the fictional nature of virtual influencers does not make them any less relatable. He said, “Knowing the interests and browsing habits of our young and tech-savvy player base… it became apparent that social media provided a potential platform for storytelling in a way that wasn’t possible for other parts of our fantasy-based IP.”
The founder of virtualhumans.org Christopher Travers says, “Virtual influencers, while fake, have real business potential. They are cheaper to work with than humans in the long term, are 100% controllable, can appear in many places at once, and, most importantly, they never age or die.”
Luxury brands even have partnerships with virtual influencers
Creative agencies also started to create digital avatars, some of them can even attract brand partnerships and other lucrative deals. There’s this one example of a virtual influencer, Lil Miquela. With 2.8M followers, she did promotions already for high-end brands like Calvin Klein, Prada, and others.
Photo from Calvin KleinShe generated an income of USD 8,500 for a single post! She makes about a total income of USD 11.7M annually. Aside from that, she recently debuted on a music video at a Lollapalooza festival. Cool!
The COVID019 crisis may have brought success in these virtual influencers. However, the real reason for this trend is Gen Z. This generation is expected to grow to more than 2.56 billion at the end of 2020. As its oldest members start to hit their mid-20s, their earnings are growing. This makes them attractive to marketers worldwide.
Will this cause an alarming situation for social media influencers? What do you guys think?
Queenie Lasta got her bachelor's degree in Communications Research from UP Diliman. In her free time, she likes to read thriller novels, psychology books, and mangas. She believes in the importance of grit, hard work, and passion to become a great writer in the future.