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TikTok Will Enable Business to Create Their Own Virtual Characters

The next stage of digital marketing is coming to TikTok, with the platform’s new “Symphony” marketing management platform to include a new option that will enable brands to deploy virtual influencers to sell their products for them in the app.

TikTok avatars

As you can see in this example, TikTok’s now moving to the next stage of its virtual influencers program, which will enable brands to choose from a range of digital characters that can essentially sell their products for them, 24/7, via TikTok live streams.

As explained by TikTok:

To help creators and brands captivate global audiences and deliver impactful messages in an immersive and authentic way, we are excited to announce Symphony Digital Avatars. Digital Avatars help breathe life into branded content with generative A.I. avatars of real people, which will enable new ways to scale creative strategies on TikTok.”

TikTok’s digital avatars will come in two formats:

  • Stock Avatars – Pre-built characters which have been created using paid actors that are licensed for commercial use
  • Custom Avatars – Creators and/or brand spokespeople will also be able to generate their own avatars in their likeness, complete with multi-language abilities 

Which sounds weird right? It sounds like you’re going to end up with these ridiculously robotic avatars that are clearly fake, and are utterly unconvincing as digital salespeople in the app.

But as with all of TikTok’s innovations, the concept is actually already well refined, with the same digital avatars having already become viable, valuable options in the Chinese version of the app, called “Douyin”.

TikTok AI hosts

In fact, AI hosts, like the ones pictured above, have become hugely popular in the Chinese market, with these simulated characters able to stream 24/7, sometimes selling thousands of dollars worth of goods every day.

And they’re also becoming increasingly cost-effective.

As reported by MIT Technology Review:

Since 2022, a swarm of Chinese startups and major tech companies have been offering the service of creating deepfake avatars for e-commerce livestreaming. With just a few minutes of sample video and $1,000 in costs, brands can clone a human streamer to work 24/7.

These AI clones are designed to mimic the words on the advertiser’s script, with companies also using A.I. to generate the scripts as well.

“Now, all the human workers have to do is input basic information such as the name and price of the product being sold, proofread the generated script, and watch the digital influencer go live. A more advanced version of the technology can spot live comments and find matching answers in its database to answer in real time, so it looks as if the A.I. streamer is actively communicating with the audience. It can even adjust its marketing strategy based on the number of viewers.”

And now, they’re coming to TikTok, with simplified creation options providing new ways for brands to pitch their goods to the TikTok community, both in ads and live-streams.

Is this the way of the future, and what we can expect to see more of, in all apps?

I mean, Instagram is already experimenting with similar, in enabling creators to build their own A.I. chatbots in their likeness.

And with virtual characters already selling products in China, it does seem like it could be a major shift. Maybe not immediately transformative, but it could be the way of the future, as A.I. technology continues to advance, and bot options like this become more realistic.

Hey, remember those TikTok N.P.C. streams, which saw real people pretending to be digital characters?

Evidently, they were more indicative than they seemed.  

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