Swinburne’s research reveals bots are coming for our influencers


Bots always come for our jobs, but this time they are online influencers.

A new study by Swinburne marketing expert Professor Sean Sands has looked at human intelligence versus artificial intelligence (AI) influencers on Instagram, comparing the likes of the Kardashians with the world’s first digital supermodel , Shudu (@shudu.gram), and Miquela (@lilmiquela) who has over 3 million followers and “describes” himself as a “19-year-old robot living in Los Angeles.”

Professor Sands has found that in many ways a virtual AI influencer can be as effective as a human influencer.

Influencers are our taste makers. More than that, influencer is a multi-billion dollar industry – expected to reach US$15 billion in 2022. Part of the appeal of influencers is that they are seen as more authentic and credible than traditional forms. advertising – and as such they can be enormously effective in advertising campaigns.

Research led by Swinburne reveals that this could be true even for AI influencers.

We’re just as happy following AI influencers as we are humans

The team found that people are just as willing to follow AI influencers as their human counterparts.

“Consumers are equally open to following an AI or a human influencer, and they perceive the level of personalization provided by either type of influencer as similar.”

The researchers posit that this may be explained by a “ripple effect” of consumer experiences with other AI recommender systems. We listen to AI recommendations all the time, from our Netflix telling us what to watch next, Amazon telling us what we might like, or Goodreads suggesting books similar to ones we’ve enjoyed.

Although we know they are not real people and therefore trust an AI influencer less, research has found that AI influencers are more likely to start word-of-mouth trends. -ear.

For consumers drawn to “uniqueness,” they may actually prefer AI influencers.

Why advertisers might turn to AI influencers

AI influencers are gaining prominence.

Global brands such as KFC, LVMH, Mini, Netflix, Nike and Samsung have all worked with AI influencers. French luxury brand Balmain went so far as to ditch the Kardashians as social media influencers in 2018, naming three virtual AI influencers in their place: Shudu, Margot and Xhi. More recently, social media users may have seen the World Health Organization engage AI influencer Knox Frost, with over a million Instagram followers at the time, during the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19.

Research has found that AI influencers are able to “quickly capitalize on social media trends.”

There are also new opportunities for marketers and brands.

“Another benefit of AI influencers is that they potentially allow a brand to quickly create an infinite number of micro-targeted – or even fully personalized – influencers. At the extreme, all consumers could be targeted with their own bots. personalized influence.

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The research paper, titled ‘Unreal influence: leaving AI in influencer marketing’, was authored by Professor Sean Sands (lead author, Swinburne), Associate Professor Colin Campbell (Swinburne), Dr Kirk Plangger (King’s College London) and Dr. Carla Ferraro (Swinburne).