This week in influencer marketing, YouTube will let creators co-host shopping livestreams with brands, TikTok’s new ad offering enables influencers to partner with marketers on branded content, the first virtual influencer with Down syndrome is introduced and more.
In its ongoing pursuit to drive viewership, YouTube is looking to its creators to produce more relatable content. EMarketer spoke with Google’s managing director Brian Albert about why linear TV will revolve around live sports and news and why connected TV (CTV) will be the hot topic in all Upfronts negotiations this year.
According to Albert, YouTube is focusing on its creator economy given how intensely it’s been fueling the platform’s growth over the last several years. Viewers consider broadcast cable, online video and streaming video to be one and the same because of how programmed they are in this on-demand world where they can watch whatever they want, whenever they want and on any device.
Why it matters: YouTube has conducted extensive research to understand what drives viewership on its platform. The company has consistently found that viewers care more about the content that relates to their passions and interests more than anything else. And over the last few years, YouTube has paid more than 2 million creators about $30 billion to produce and upload over 500 hours of content per minute.
TikTok recently announced the launch of a new ad product called Branded Mission, which allows creators to partner with brands to earn rewards and advertisers to crowdsource creators’ content to be used as ads.
Advertisers will be able to launch branded campaigns and encourage creators to take part in them as brands develop and release briefs that invite the creator community to participate in Branded Missions.
Creators who are at least 18 years old and have at least 1,000 followers will then be able to choose which Branded Missions they want to participate in. According to TikTok, eligible creators whose videos are selected by brands will “benefit from a cash payment and boosted traffic.” Branded Mission pages will list how much money creators have the ability to earn if their video is selected. The new Branded Mission product is currently in beta testing and available to brands in more than a dozen markets.
Why it matters: According to TikTok, this unique form of brand-creator engagement affords the overall community the opportunity to have a creative hand in brand ads. It’s yet another way for TikTok to keep its creator economy happy and engaged and will also bring more emerging creators into the branded content ecosystem while offering established ones another avenue for monetization
Hawaiian locals and the internet recently lambasted Benefit Cosmetics for flying a group of influencers to the tropical state to promote a new product line after Hawaiians have been fighting over-tourism’s negative effects on the islands. A number of social media users responded to the company’s news by calling it “tone-deaf,” “gross” and “disrespectful.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Hawaiians have been requesting that tourists not visit the islands due to water shortages and congested roads. In a statement to the Huffington Post, Benefit said that “across every touchpoint, [they] have partnered with cultural experts, local artisans, business owners and entertainers from across the islands to ensure [their] time there is done responsibly and respectively.”
Why it matters: Benefit’s lapse in judgment is an important lesson for marketers to consider current local and cultural sensitivities before deploying activations in other areas. Benefit Cosmetics’ Instagram hasn’t shared any content from the trip since the backlash, while the Benefit Cosmetics UK account posted a video of influencers cleaning a beach. The company also donated to the nonprofit Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.
Announced at its annual Brandcast event, YouTube will begin allowing creators to co-host live shopping streams across two channels later this year. It also announced a new “redirects” feature that will help YouTubers work more closely with brands, though there’s no word on when it’ll launch.
These new features will facilitate more meaningful connections between creators and advertisers and their audiences.
The first feature will allow two channels to go live and cohost together, “uniting their communities in a single live shopping stream.” The second feature is called live redirects, and will give creators the opportunity to start a shopping livestream on their own channel, then redirect to a brand’s channel for viewers to continue watching.
As the majority of broadcasters flaunt original programming at Upfronts, YouTube focused on live shopping, short-form video and high-profile creators like Mr.Beast, Patrick Starr and Marques Brownlee.
Why it matters: YouTube’s new features are taking live shopping to a new level in its aim to compete with terrestrial shopping channels and will help advertisers and creators develop more meaningful connections with their audiences. The move is also in line with its current effort to tap creators to drive viewership—the platform hosted Brandcast at this year’s Upfronts rather than the digital equivalent NewFronts.
Muse by Clio
Down Syndrome International (DSI) commissioned Forsman & Bodenfors (F&B) Singapore to create the world’s first virtual influencer with Down syndrome. Kamilah, or Kami for short, is a composite of more than 100 women with Down syndrome.
These women’s portraits were aligned and fed into a face-averaging program to create the image that was then fed into a 3D character creator program that generated Kami’s final concept and form. Forming Kami’s image this way eliminated the possibility of incorporating unconscious beauty biases. Women with Down syndrome also contribute to Kami’s physique, gestures, voice and personality.
Kami’s Instagram will operate like any other influencer’s platform—she’ll share details about her daily life, friends, interests, likes and quirks. Through the #TheKamiPledge, she’ll spotlight others in the digital space with Down syndrome.
Why it matters: According to creatives Rachel Kennedy and Firrdaus Yusoff of F&B Singapore, “In a world filled with pixel-perfect virtual models, creating Kami is a way to completely reframe Down syndrome in the online space.”
The virtual influencer industry has been on the rise recently as brands become engaged by their potential. Japanese virtual influencer Imma, for example, has inked deals with Ikea and Magnum ice cream.
Still, some worry virtual influencers could create even more impossible beauty standards than exist already given they represent a non-existent person, under complete control of brand or production interests.