Virtual and Real Influencers are Building a New Marketing Landscape
Lawrence Chia
Chairman, Pico Group

The rise of digital media, AI and the metaverse is propelling and bringing significant change to influencer marketing, both steadily expanding and reshaping its landscape. Researchers estimate that influencer market value will reach US$109.37 billion by 2028. How can we harness influencer strategies to maximise marketing impact?

Influencer marketing and digital platforms are deeply intertwined, effectively boosting campaign exposure. An example is Pico’s activation of the 57th Super Bowl naming rights project for State Farm early this year, which featured TikTok influencer Khaby and a single TikTok post as the core strategy to interact with global Generation Z and millennial audiences. The campaign created a sustained buzz throughout the game series, with the post garnering over 220 million views and a total media exposure of 1.05 billion.

Virtual influencers are emerging under the influence of AI concepts. Highly adaptable and easy to manage, they eliminate the risk of scandals tarnishing a brand’s reputation. Paired with their lifelike behaviour, they quickly become brand darlings. Looking at China, a survey early this year showed that nearly 80% of respondents would purchase products endorsed by virtual influencers, attracting major enterprises to this field.

For example, ASUS invited virtual influencers Shudu, Teflon Sega and Rae to endorse their new foldable screen laptop, targeting tech-savvy Gen Z customers. Their three Instagram videos accumulated over 200,000 views, reducing advertising costs by 30% and lowering the cost of gaining product consideration by 78%.

The metaverse provides a new marketing platform for influencers and brands. In Hong Kong, a performing arts and entertainment company launched a metaverse project to create virtual images and communities for its artists, including opera houses for virtual concerts and other scenes. This strengthens the connection between artists, fans and audiences through the integration of metaverse and reality.

The rise of virtual influencers is reshaping the marketing landscape, creating a diversified market with real influencers. Industry leaders must adapt their marketing strategies to offer more innovative activation solutions for brands.

The full article was originally published in Headline Finance on 31 July 2023 (in Chinese only).

Source: Headline Finance (webpage version), 31 July 2023