Scroll through the livestreams on Taobao or Douyin, and you’ll find a new breed of influencers—ones that never sleep, never eat, and never take a break. They’re AI-generated avatars, and they’re taking over the Chinese e-commerce world.
The Rise of Silicon Celebrities
Chinese startups like Silicon Intelligence and Xiaoice are pioneering the creation of hyper-realistic avatars. These digital doppelgängers are so convincing that they’re starting to replace human influencers. With just a minute of video footage, these companies can create a digital clone capable of hosting a 24/7 livestream.
The Economics of AI Influencers
The cost-effectiveness of these AI avatars is undeniable. For as little as $1,000, brands can have their own digital influencer working around the clock. This is a game-changer for smaller brands that can’t afford the high costs of human influencers.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
According to McKinsey, the use of generative AI could add up to $275 billion to the fashion and luxury sectors alone in the next few years. The live-streaming e-commerce market is expected to reach $305 billion by 2027, suggesting that a significant revenue stream is being tapped into.
The Night Shift: AI Livestreamers After Dark
As the sun sets and most people drift into slumber, China’s e-commerce landscape comes alive with AI-generated livestreamers. These avatars work tirelessly through the night, offering a cost-effective solution for brands during off-peak hours.
Scripting and Interactivity
Advanced versions of AI avatars can interact with live comments, enhancing the illusion of genuine human communication. Large language models assist in crafting these scripts, ensuring the content remains engaging and on-topic.
Brands Collaborating with AI Influencer Platforms
Brands are increasingly partnering with AI influencer platforms to tap into this emerging market. Companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and JD are offering AI streamer services, providing a cost-effective and efficient way to reach consumers. These collaborations allow brands to maintain a consistent and engaging online presence, especially during off-peak hours.
Creating Your Own AI Influencer: A Step-by-Step Approach
- Choose a Platform: Decide on an AI influencer platform like Silicon Intelligence and Xiaoice.
- Provide Video Footage: Record at least one minute of video footage to serve as the basis for your AI influencer.
- Customization: Specify the look, voice, and other characteristics you want your AI influencer to have.
- Scripting: Prepare a script or set of phrases that your AI influencer will use during livestreams.
- Training: Allow the platform to train your AI model based on the video and script.
- Review and Revise: Once the AI influencer is generated, review its performance and make any necessary adjustments.
- Launch: Introduce your AI influencer to your audience through a livestream or social media post.
The Human Element: What’s at Stake?
While AI influencers offer cost and efficiency benefits, they lack the emotional connection that human influencers provide. The question then arises: Can AI avatars truly replace the human touch?
The Ethical Dilemma
As AI technology advances, there’s a growing concern about transparency and ethics. Platforms like Douyin now require AI-generated content to be clearly marked, but the technology is still too new for serious enforcement.
The Regulatory Landscape
China’s government has introduced laws governing synthetic media and generative AI. The enforcement of these laws in this nascent field remains uncertain, but it’s a step towards ensuring ethical use of the technology.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The emergence of AI influencers in China’s e-commerce landscape is a testament to the rapid advancements in technology and its application in marketing. While these digital personas offer a plethora of benefits, from cost savings to round-the-clock availability, they also present new challenges that society must grapple with. Ethical considerations, regulatory frameworks, and the quest for “emotional intelligence” in AI are all evolving issues that will shape the future of this industry. As we stand on the cusp of this digital frontier, the choices we make today will define the e-commerce of tomorrow.