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How can attractions capitalise on the rise of AI and virtual influencers? | Planet Attractions
     

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How can attractions capitalise on the rise of AI and virtual influencers?

There’s a trend on social media that is seeing more and more virtual and AI influencers gain significant popularity, should you be using them to promote your attractions? Tom Anstey explores...




Virtual and AI generated influencer accounts are on the rise

An industry worth US$17bn (€15.7bn, £13.4bn), influencer marketing has proved over the last decade-plus to be an important part of outreach for the visitor attractions sector. Now, a new type of content creator is starting to make waves on digital platforms and it’s time to ask if the industry should be utilising this medium.

Virtual and AI influencers are digital personas created through the use of AI or other computer software, with these fictional computer-generated people taking on the characteristics, personalities and appearance of a human being.

Made possible thanks to the rapid development of AI, especially over the last several years, millions of people from around the world are following and engaging with a wave of virtual influencers as they gain huge traction on platforms such as Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, more than 58% of US consumers follow at least one virtual influencer and by 2026, 30% of influencer marketing budgets are expected to be taken up by virtual influencers.



To show the worth of these virtual influencers, you need look no further than the dividends they can pay their creators.

In a recent study from intelligent enterprise solutions provider SAP.com, the 60 most-followed human-replica virtual influencer accounts on Instagram were analysed based on their follower count and earning potential per post.

Excluding characters based on animals or cartoons, AI influencer Lu do Magalu, is the top-ranked virtual influencer. Created in 2009 to promote iBlogTV, Magalu has featured on the cover of Vogue Brazil and has 6.8 million followers, with an earnings potential of US$33,800 (€31,200 £26,700) per sponsored Instagram post.

Second on the list is Miquela Sousa, an AI influencer which has collaborated with brands such as BMW, Samsung and Calvin Klein. According to the study, Sousa’s 2.6 million followers offer an estimated earning potential of up to US$16,300 (€15,000, £12,900) per post.

Sousa is followed by third-placed Leya Love, “an avatar ambassador for planet earth” that combines digital modelling and environmental advocacy into its posts. According to the study, it has an earning potential of US$4,900 (€4,500, £3,900) per post with 565,000 followers.



Of course this isn’t a Skynet situation and while powered by AI, a virtual influencer is nothing without the creator behind them. Combining the human element with AI, however, can create fantastic value for brands seeking an alternative.

These creators sit usually anonymously behind their created character, driving them to live their imaginary influencer life, which in-turn builds user engagement and transforms these virtual accounts into widely-recognised and bonafide social media figureheads.

The creator will choose how the character acts, what the character wears and where the character decides to go. The influencer can of course be edited into any backdrop or onto any campaign the creator chooses, so at the drop of a hat they could be exploring Universal’s upcoming Epic Universe and the very next day they could be in a major museum in Europe like the Louvre or a waterpark in the Caribbean. Of course they haven’t actually visited, and likely neither has their creator for the purpose of creating the ad, but you are able to drive instant engagement at the click of a few buttons, most importantly through a unique set of eyes that in turn increases engagement.

Flexibility is also a factor to consider. For a real life influencer an error in a video or on a post can take significant time to remedy. With a virtual influencer, this correction can be amended in short order and they will hand over more to the brand in terms of control over the collaboration.

So is AI and virtual influencing a realm of attractions that could delve into? Simply put yes - and they’re perfectly set up to do it.



This is a new trend that is set up to keep brands ahead of the curve. Working on an AI campaign will require alternative thinking to your usual influencer-led marketing strategy. However it has the potential to yield fantastic results and stand out in an ocean of social voices in its own way, drawing new eyes to your product.

Working with Samsung, Miquela Sousa launched a very different kind of brand campaign, acknowledging her role as an AI influencer, encouraging followers to ‘do what you can’t’ as a part of Team Galaxy.


This is an example of what a cleverly thought out campaign could achieve, embracing AI and creating a memorable talking point for your customers.

For the attractions sector, when you launch a new experience or an entire attraction, you can have your virtual influencer, ‘visit’. Whether this is a simple photo of them at the entrance with a caption or it’s an AI-generated video of them riding and reviewing a new ride. AI and virtual social influencers regularly ‘meet’ their heroes in the form of virtual selfies or visit locations to share a message or experience.

Adding a layer to this for attractions, the virtual influencer could even potentially become the focal point of an attraction or experience.

For attractions such as theme parks, they could develop their own character - human or not - from scratch and launch a campaign based on their social interactions while building an entire narrative based around their experiences and interactions. Incorporating one or multiple AI characters into an attraction and presenting them as part of the experience, you have the potential to reach an audience far and wide.



Of course when considering the pros you also need to consider the cons. With the rise of AI as a viable technology, there has come debate as to the ethics and risks associated with its use.

The idea that these radical developments in science, engineering and AI could lead to a technological uprising is certainly one to be taken seriously, but when thinking about AI and virtual influence, it’s a different set of parameters you have to consider.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, when surveyed, 43.8% of marketing professionals expressed ethical concerns about AI influencers, while real-life human influencers have also raised concerns that their income is being cannibalised and threatened by digital competition - an ongoing controversy surrounding AI as a whole.

The trend can be cost-effective for brands but it raises concerns about authenticity and the future role of human influencers. While providing control and more likely to avoid human controversy, the ethical and relational aspects of such AI creations will likely remain a topic of debate.



Another thing to consider is human response and how you present a virtual user campaign. Right now, an AI generated influencer is an exciting idea, however authenticity is a key metric when it comes to user engagement.

That’s not to say the use of AI influencers is a bad thing. Behind these virtual avatars are real people driving their decisions but you have to consider how they work in the grand scope of everything else you are doing in your marketing efforts.

Finding a balance between AI-generated efforts and human authenticity is crucial. According to a report by Deloitte, brands that are able to balance technology and human elements tend to successfully outperform their competitors.



When thinking about virtual or AI influencers, a decision on how and if to use them boils down to marketing. When it comes to influencer marketing, these virtual avatars are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Just like a human influencer, attractions and other brands that choose to collaborate with the virtual avatars could open up a world of possibility. With huge audiences and a whole range of other benefits, AI influencing looks to be a risk worth taking.

With the global influencer marketing market size expected to reach US$22.2bn (€20.5bn, £17.5bn) by the year 2025, AI and virtual influencing remains one of the few untapped sources that can deliver significant results. On top of that, according to PwC, the overall AI market is expected to be worth US$15.7tn (€14.5tn, £12.4tn) by 2030, with AI-generated content becoming more and more prevalent in that timeframe. Maybe it’s time to think outside the box and see how your attraction could benefit.



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How can attractions capitalise on the rise of AI and virtual influencers? | Planet Attractions
industry

How can attractions capitalise on the rise of AI and virtual influencers?

There’s a trend on social media that is seeing more and more virtual and AI influencers gain significant popularity, should you be using them to promote your attractions? Tom Anstey explores...




Virtual and AI generated influencer accounts are on the rise

An industry worth US$17bn (€15.7bn, £13.4bn), influencer marketing has proved over the last decade-plus to be an important part of outreach for the visitor attractions sector. Now, a new type of content creator is starting to make waves on digital platforms and it’s time to ask if the industry should be utilising this medium.

Virtual and AI influencers are digital personas created through the use of AI or other computer software, with these fictional computer-generated people taking on the characteristics, personalities and appearance of a human being.

Made possible thanks to the rapid development of AI, especially over the last several years, millions of people from around the world are following and engaging with a wave of virtual influencers as they gain huge traction on platforms such as Instagram, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, more than 58% of US consumers follow at least one virtual influencer and by 2026, 30% of influencer marketing budgets are expected to be taken up by virtual influencers.



To show the worth of these virtual influencers, you need look no further than the dividends they can pay their creators.

In a recent study from intelligent enterprise solutions provider SAP.com, the 60 most-followed human-replica virtual influencer accounts on Instagram were analysed based on their follower count and earning potential per post.

Excluding characters based on animals or cartoons, AI influencer Lu do Magalu, is the top-ranked virtual influencer. Created in 2009 to promote iBlogTV, Magalu has featured on the cover of Vogue Brazil and has 6.8 million followers, with an earnings potential of US$33,800 (€31,200 £26,700) per sponsored Instagram post.

Second on the list is Miquela Sousa, an AI influencer which has collaborated with brands such as BMW, Samsung and Calvin Klein. According to the study, Sousa’s 2.6 million followers offer an estimated earning potential of up to US$16,300 (€15,000, £12,900) per post.

Sousa is followed by third-placed Leya Love, “an avatar ambassador for planet earth” that combines digital modelling and environmental advocacy into its posts. According to the study, it has an earning potential of US$4,900 (€4,500, £3,900) per post with 565,000 followers.



Of course this isn’t a Skynet situation and while powered by AI, a virtual influencer is nothing without the creator behind them. Combining the human element with AI, however, can create fantastic value for brands seeking an alternative.

These creators sit usually anonymously behind their created character, driving them to live their imaginary influencer life, which in-turn builds user engagement and transforms these virtual accounts into widely-recognised and bonafide social media figureheads.

The creator will choose how the character acts, what the character wears and where the character decides to go. The influencer can of course be edited into any backdrop or onto any campaign the creator chooses, so at the drop of a hat they could be exploring Universal’s upcoming Epic Universe and the very next day they could be in a major museum in Europe like the Louvre or a waterpark in the Caribbean. Of course they haven’t actually visited, and likely neither has their creator for the purpose of creating the ad, but you are able to drive instant engagement at the click of a few buttons, most importantly through a unique set of eyes that in turn increases engagement.

Flexibility is also a factor to consider. For a real life influencer an error in a video or on a post can take significant time to remedy. With a virtual influencer, this correction can be amended in short order and they will hand over more to the brand in terms of control over the collaboration.

So is AI and virtual influencing a realm of attractions that could delve into? Simply put yes - and they’re perfectly set up to do it.



This is a new trend that is set up to keep brands ahead of the curve. Working on an AI campaign will require alternative thinking to your usual influencer-led marketing strategy. However it has the potential to yield fantastic results and stand out in an ocean of social voices in its own way, drawing new eyes to your product.

Working with Samsung, Miquela Sousa launched a very different kind of brand campaign, acknowledging her role as an AI influencer, encouraging followers to ‘do what you can’t’ as a part of Team Galaxy.


This is an example of what a cleverly thought out campaign could achieve, embracing AI and creating a memorable talking point for your customers.

For the attractions sector, when you launch a new experience or an entire attraction, you can have your virtual influencer, ‘visit’. Whether this is a simple photo of them at the entrance with a caption or it’s an AI-generated video of them riding and reviewing a new ride. AI and virtual social influencers regularly ‘meet’ their heroes in the form of virtual selfies or visit locations to share a message or experience.

Adding a layer to this for attractions, the virtual influencer could even potentially become the focal point of an attraction or experience.

For attractions such as theme parks, they could develop their own character - human or not - from scratch and launch a campaign based on their social interactions while building an entire narrative based around their experiences and interactions. Incorporating one or multiple AI characters into an attraction and presenting them as part of the experience, you have the potential to reach an audience far and wide.



Of course when considering the pros you also need to consider the cons. With the rise of AI as a viable technology, there has come debate as to the ethics and risks associated with its use.

The idea that these radical developments in science, engineering and AI could lead to a technological uprising is certainly one to be taken seriously, but when thinking about AI and virtual influence, it’s a different set of parameters you have to consider.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, when surveyed, 43.8% of marketing professionals expressed ethical concerns about AI influencers, while real-life human influencers have also raised concerns that their income is being cannibalised and threatened by digital competition - an ongoing controversy surrounding AI as a whole.

The trend can be cost-effective for brands but it raises concerns about authenticity and the future role of human influencers. While providing control and more likely to avoid human controversy, the ethical and relational aspects of such AI creations will likely remain a topic of debate.



Another thing to consider is human response and how you present a virtual user campaign. Right now, an AI generated influencer is an exciting idea, however authenticity is a key metric when it comes to user engagement.

That’s not to say the use of AI influencers is a bad thing. Behind these virtual avatars are real people driving their decisions but you have to consider how they work in the grand scope of everything else you are doing in your marketing efforts.

Finding a balance between AI-generated efforts and human authenticity is crucial. According to a report by Deloitte, brands that are able to balance technology and human elements tend to successfully outperform their competitors.



When thinking about virtual or AI influencers, a decision on how and if to use them boils down to marketing. When it comes to influencer marketing, these virtual avatars are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Just like a human influencer, attractions and other brands that choose to collaborate with the virtual avatars could open up a world of possibility. With huge audiences and a whole range of other benefits, AI influencing looks to be a risk worth taking.

With the global influencer marketing market size expected to reach US$22.2bn (€20.5bn, £17.5bn) by the year 2025, AI and virtual influencing remains one of the few untapped sources that can deliver significant results. On top of that, according to PwC, the overall AI market is expected to be worth US$15.7tn (€14.5tn, £12.4tn) by 2030, with AI-generated content becoming more and more prevalent in that timeframe. Maybe it’s time to think outside the box and see how your attraction could benefit.



 



© Kazoo 5 Limited 2024