You probably already know about influencer marketing. It is one fastest growing industries online, especially on Instagram where 30% of users are more likely to purchase a product or service if they see it being promoted by an influencer.
But what you don’t know is that not all of these influencers are ‘real’ people. Some of them are CGI influencers who were created online with the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI).
A CGI influencer has an online persona just like a regular human influencer. She or he goes about their life doing fun things and documenting it with pictures and short videos for their followers.
An example of a CGI influencer is Zoe Dvir, who was created by Tal Melenboim.
You will find her going about her life posting pictures of things she does every day. Some of them are in partnership with brands. Like in the below one where she is promoting some clothes.
It is not just small brands who are using CGI influencers, there are also bigger brands like Samsung who are working with influencers like Lil Miquela. She has over 1.6 million followers.
Why would people follow and listen to influencers who aren’t exactly real?
The people who follow and listen to CGI influencers can be divided into two types. Those who are okay with it and those who don’t know.
As Tal Melenboim mentioned in his recent interview, “We saw comments in her Instagram posts from people who were impressed with how realistic and authentic she was. And then, we got comments from people saying “there’s no way you a real person. Nice try tho.” Most comments tend to take the cautious line of not dismissing her while trying to understand if she’s real or not.”
People not being able to figure out if a CGI influencer is real or unreal is definitely possible as many of them look quite realistic. In fact 42% of people following an influencer don’t know if she or he is real or not.
Those who do know that an influencer isn’t real are probably okay with it as most people who have been using social media for a while have already grown accustomed to following dog and cat accounts and other online characters who aren’t exactly real.
So, if you create a likeable character they can associate with, in time they will begin to trust the CGI influencer and buy the products they recommend.
What do brands prefer
As you can see in the above two photos, brands are already working with CGI influencers. They seem to prefer them too.
This is because CGI influencers are cheaper and easier to work with.
When working with a real influencer a brand needs to hire a marketer or an agency to help them devise the strategy, find influencers and then execute it. This is very expensive as they are paying both the influencer and the marketer.
But when brands work with CGI influencers they are working with one company only, as the CGI influencers are usually owned by the agency. This reduces costs.
Sometimes the brands themselves own the CGI influencers. This reduces costs even further.
Also, working with CGI influencers saves them a lot of hassles. They don’t have to the deal with controversies, worry about influencers not following through and the fake follower epidemic.
Marketers themselves will run the CGI influencers accounts so they will be able to give a better estimate on reach, engagement and sales potential of a campaign.
So, who will win out in the end…
CGI influencer marketing is still at an early stage. At the moment as you can see from the above discussions it seems to be as effective as regular influencer marketing. But as time goes by and people become more aware of CGI influencers their perceptions might change.
They will either unfollow them and not listen to their advice when they realise they aren’t real or following these types of account will become the norm. This factor will mainly determine if CGI influencers can completely replace real influencers.
But one place where CGI influencers will always triumph are pricing and time. As aforementioned CGI influencers will either be directly owned by the company or the marketing agency. This will make things cheaper and straightforward.