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Influencing the Influencers: The Rise of A.I.-Powered Influencer Marketing

"What is real? How do you define 'real'? If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste, and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain."


The quote by Morpheus in the 1999 film "The Matrix" rings true today as the A.I.-driven world merges with our natural world. The science fiction premise of the trilogy touches on transhumanism and simulation theory – that humans experience the world as a simulated reality created by intelligent machines as a control mechanism. The reality is, we are now living in a version of the premise: a big data-driven digital world powered by humans and deep learning machines.


We are at a juncture where our identities and avatars exist simultaneously in both the digital and organic realms, and our actions can affect the "two worlds we live in" – in just 25 years since the film was released. The question begs, how did this all begin? In today's article, we'll explore the influencing capacity of A.I. in shaping realities, altering perceptions, and amassing followers.




1. Social networking: Where it all began

The two fathers of social networks, Bolt and Six Degrees, were created in 1997. Bolt served as a hub for teenagers to use for emailing, voicemail, voice chatting, and instant messaging. Six Degrees, the first platform that enabled people to connect online, filed the first social networking patent. The company still exists today.


Fast forward to the early 2000s, social networking platforms evolved into an industry, with the emergence of LinkedIn, Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter within just one decade. The introduction of smartphones and mobile applications enhanced the social networking system, merging interactive content, live broadcasting, and advertising into what we now call social media. The global social media market was estimated to be valued at $231.1 billion in 2023.

2. The rise of influencer marketing and A.I.

The evolution of social media continues in tandem with technological advancements, as more and more platforms shift to content creation in video format. Video sharing sites like YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and Vimeo are online platforms where users can upload, share, and watch videos. These sites allow individuals and organizations to upload videos either for public consumption, specific audiences or for advertising, thus giving rise to influencer marketing.


In recent times, the advanced deep learning A.I. technologies developed by Gemini, ChatGPT, and Bing have revolutionized the landscape of search engine, chatbot and content production for a global audience. Coupled with A.I.-driven creation tools like Midjourney, Dall-E, Canva, and Synthesia, a transformative element has been added to content creation. These platforms can also help create AI virtual influencers by generating images, videos, and even text-based interactions for virtual characters based on user input. For example, DALL-E can generate images of virtual humans based on descriptions provided by users, while Synthesia can create videos featuring A.I. influencers based on scripts or dialogue provided. These tools enable the creation of virtual influencers without the need for human actors or extensive manual editing. To date, the global virtual influencers market is projected to reach USD Million in the next 4 years.

3. The 5 emerging roles of A.I. in influencer marketing

A.I. plays a significant role in influencer marketing, offering new opportunities for brands. Here are five emerging roles of AI in influencer marketing:


1. Virtual stars and ambassadors

The progress in A.I. technology allows for the development of virtual influencers, which are customizable digital personas made using advanced computer graphics. Studies show that these A.I. celebrities can attract almost three times more engagement than real people. Big brands in fashion, telecommunications, sports, and fast food are already partnering with these virtual influencers. As this trend grows, more companies are expected to jump on the V.I. bandwagon.


2. A.I. integration

A.I. is able to aid many aspects of content creation, strategic planning and advertising. The table below highlights some of the roles of A.I. in influencer marketing:



Enhanced Matchmaking

Using algorithms for optimal influencer identification

Predictive Analytics

Forecasting success with predictive analytics

Content Assistance

Guiding content creation for target audiences

Real-Time Strategy Adjustment

Adapting strategies based on real-time data

Fraud Detection

Ensuring authenticity and quality of engagements


Tailoring messages to specific audience segments

Strategic Planning

Planning long-term strategies with trend analysis


3. Data processing and R.O.I.

Analyzing data to measure the return on investment (ROI) of influencer campaigns is made simpler with A.I.. Users can access more comprehensive data through A.I., enabling them to make improved decisions and enhance their campaigns.


4. Video content is here to stay

With the advancements in A.I. technology, influencers can create highly personalized video content that resonates deeply with their audience. A.I. algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data to understand viewer preferences and behaviors, enabling influencers to tailor their video content for maximum impact.


5. Authenticity VS. polished content

Authenticity holds significant value as consumers prioritise transparency, integrity, and consistency when placing trust in influencers. Genuine content fosters stronger bonds between influencers and their audience, resulting in increased trust over time. This trust fosters higher engagement levels, and when brands collaborate with these influencers, they inherit this trust, enhancing their credibility with consumers.

4. Virtual influencers, anyone?

The 3 types of A.I.-generated influencers

Non-human cyborgs, CGI humans, and animals each could represent different kinds of brands. Cyborgs are great for showing cutting-edge technology, CGI humans balance realism with creativity, and animals evoke emotions like joy and nostalgia. Brands can choose the type of AI influencer that matches their values and goals to connect with their audience effectively.


Virtual influencer VS. Human influencers: 5 key differences

Virtual influencers and human influencers represent two sides of the same coin in the realm of influencer marketing. Here are five key differences between them:


1. Authenticity:

-  Human influencers are real individuals with personal stories, experiences, and emotions, which often make them relatable to their audience.

-  Virtual influencers are computer-generated characters created by brands or individuals. Their authenticity is artificial, which may affect the depth of the connections they form with their audience.


2. Consistency:

-  Human influencers have unique personalities and behaviors that can vary over time. Brands must rely on the influencer's consistency in content creation and messaging, which may sometimes be unpredictable.

-  Virtual influencers offer complete control to their creators. Brands can meticulously craft their virtual influencer's appearance, personality, and message, ensuring consistency in branding and messaging without the risk of personal discrepancies or controversies.

3. Scalability:

-  Human influencers have limitations in terms of availability and scalability. They can only produce content and engage with their audience within their time constraints and physical limitations.

-  Virtual influencers are available 24/7 and can scale infinitely without exhaustion or scheduling conflicts. They can interact with audiences across different time zones and languages simultaneously, offering greater reach and efficiency in marketing campaigns.

 4. Longevity:

-  Human influencers may decline in popularity and relevance due to factors such as changing trends, personal circumstances, or audience fatigue.

-  Virtual influencers have longevity as long as their creators continue to update and evolve them. They can adapt seamlessly to evolving trends and technological advancements.

 5. Ethical Considerations:

-  Human influencers have to adhere to ethical guidelines and regulations regarding sponsored content, transparency, and authenticity.

-  Virtual influencers raise ethical questions regarding transparency and disclosure. The lines of their true nature and the intentions behind their endorsements are blurred.

Brands that use virtual influencers to market their products and services

Several brands have used virtual influencers to market their products and engage with audiences in innovative ways. Here are a few notable examples:

1. Balmain and Shudu Gram

Balmain, a luxury fashion brand, collaborated with Shudu Gram, a virtual model created by British photographer Cameron-James Wilson, for its advertising campaigns.


2. Gucci and Noonoouri

Noonoouri, a digital character created by graphic designer Joerg Zuber, has been featured in Gucci's social media campaigns, promoting the brand's products to her audience of over 400,000 followers on Instagram.

3. Samsung and Lil Miquela

Samsung collaborated with Lil Miquela for its launch campaign of the Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphone. Lil Miquela featured in a series of posts on her Instagram account promoting the phone's features and capabilities, targeting a tech-savvy and digitally engaged audience.


5. The future of A.I. powered influencer marketing

The emergence of AI has revolutionised marketing, with virtual influencers grabbing consumer attention and influencing purchasing decisions. AI influencers represent an exciting opportunity that remains largely untapped...for now. Their emergence presents opportunities for brands willing to innovate, experiment, and lead in this evolving landscape. Like any frontier, those who are daring, adaptable, and forward-thinking stand to reap the benefits.



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