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The next trends in media: virtual influencers, metacommerce and dynamic creative


The rise of virtual influencers

Samsung’s recent live stream event to announce their Galaxy S22 phone was hosted by the virtual influencer Zero, in what was touted as the “world’s first metaverse live video shopping event”.

Samsung’s Live Video Shopping event

While brands have used animated mascots for decades, virtual influencers are relatively new to the scene (meet Shudu Gram, the South African model who appeared on Instagram in 2017). It will be interesting to see how this trend evolves as brands begin to explore ecommerce within the metaverse (or metacommerce). Whether Zero becomes a regular feature in Samsung’s marketing strategy depends on how the metaverse takes shape, as well as how well the virtual influencer was received. Some are wondering whether 2022 is the year metacommerce becomes mainstream.

In the stream, Zero chatted with human hosts and even took a selfie. It’s intriguing to watch (you can check out a short version or the only full recording I could find). 

While my assumption is the event was scripted, it does show the possibilities of using a dynamic element in a marketing campaign in a virtual space. If this can be personalised for users as they engage with products/campaigns in the metaverse, then we may be seeing the very early days of dynamic creative within the virtual space.

What is dynamic creative, anyway?

Simply, dynamic creative is the real-time updating of creative ad content to users, based on specific criteria. It allows for bespoke, personalised messaging, avoiding the need to rely on ad messaging with broad appeal. 

Here’s an example:

How does it work? Instead of building every possible combination of products into ad combinations – a prohibitively time consuming and expensive exercise – dynamic creative makes use of templates that are filled on the fly. Imagine an ad with placeholder elements (text, images, etc.) and a decision-tree-style flowchart which populates the different elements based on user behaviour. The ad displays elements based on specific criteria as the page loads, and voilà – a personalised ad.

Retargeting a user based on their browsing history is just one example of dynamic creative you may be familiar with – and indeed, one that may be increasingly difficult to do with cookie depreciation. In practice, the technique is only limited by the range of data sets available. 

Other examples of data points that can be used are weather, location, date, or even live sport scores, with the criteria as simple or as complex as needed. Using weather as an example, dynamic creative gives us the opportunity to promote an ice cream ad once the temperature rises above 30°C, or winter coats when the weather turns cold. Location data can even help promote different events in different locations without developing new creative for each one.

It could even be as simple as swapping out call to action messaging a few days before a sale ends, or updating the price of an overseas flight as the price changes live. 

When it comes to dynamic creative and the future of media, the sky’s the limit.