TikTok May Soon Enable Brands to Generate AI Bots to Pitch Products on Their Behalf

0
4


TikTok is reportedly working on a new option that would enable brands to deploy virtual influencers, who would then be able to sell their products on their behalf via videos and live-streams in the app.

Which is no surprise, given that the Chinese version of the app already hosts a range of big-name virtual influencers along the same lines. Though it will be interesting to see whether Western audiences are as receptive to these digital characters, and might also be willing to then spend more in TikTok as a result.

As reported by The Information:

“The feature, which is still under development, would generate a script for a video ad based on a prompt submitted by the advertiser, as well as an AI-generated influencer to perform in the video, according to an advertiser who has seen plans for the tool. TikTok Shop merchants could also use the AI influencer tool to promote their goods, said two other people told about the idea by TikTok staff.”

Which, as noted, is already in effect in Douyin, the Chinese version of the app.

TikTok AI hosts

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’ve become very 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 AI 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 AI streamer is actively communicating with the audience. It can even adjust its marketing strategy based on the number of viewers.”

Sounds pretty impressive. And while the video characters themselves may look a little robotic on closer inspection, the potential benefits of having these characters pitch your products on your brand’s behalf could be significant.

TikTok has been trying to boost its commerce efforts in order to maximize its revenue potential, again mimicking the growth trajectory of the Chinese version of the app.

On Douyin, shopping live-streams are now its biggest revenue driver, and TikTok’s been working on a range of initiatives to implement the same process as well.

Though Western audiences haven’t been as receptive.

While TikTok users are clearly open to spending in the app, with more and more money shifting through TikTok’s circuits every year, most of that is going towards creator donations, and not on products displayed in the TikTok Shop, and within its shopping streams.

There are signs that this could become a bigger element, but it’s still far behind Douyin. TikTok saw around $3.8 billion in consumer spend in the app in 2023, versus over $270 billion on Douyin. Douyin did have a head start in this respect, but shopping adoption on TikTok has been much slower, despite owner ByteDance trying various angles to spark more interest.

Could virtual influencers be the thing that pushes TikTok’s commerce streams to the next level?

I mean, we already have humans pretending to be bots in the app, surely actual bots won’t perform significantly worse.

It’ll be interesting to see how TikTok proceeds to the next stage of the project, and how good its AI bots actually are for selling products.