Do You Know Mikayla? The Idea and Technology Behind CGI Influencers.

We are all pretty aware of what CGI is and its progress to imagery in recent years. Artificial intelligence has seemingly entered the social media realm in ways we may not even notice. For example, media companies are utilizing AI to create digital personas for the sake of spreading content. You may be scrolling through Instagram and come across an influencer, who in reality is a robot. Does the fact that these profiles are not actual humans make them less of an influencer? 

The influencer market is huge and lucrative. According to a study by Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing is estimated to have grown to have a market size of $9.7 billion in 2020. The report found that 90% of survey respondents believe influencer marketing to be an effective form of marketing. On Instagram alone, there are 500,000 active influencers, as of writing this. There’s a lot of competition in the world of influencers, and it’s on them and the brand to keep content fresh and inspiring. 

Why The CGI

Out of competition and technological advances rose CGI influencers. Influencers like Miquela, Bermuda, and Shudu now exist on social media appearing like everyone else, except their not. Miquela is the most prominent character in a group of “CGI influencers.” She is described in her Instagram bio as a “musician, change-seeker, and robot with the drip.” Her photos portray a lifestyle full of high fashion, recording studios, and celebrity hangouts. She collaborated with Baauer on one of her songs “Hate Me,” and has several other tracks on her Spotify profile with 300,000 monthly listens. 

Jo Bromilow, a digital consultant for Newgate Communications, told Insider Magazine she could see many reasons why brands would find using a digital influencer compelling. 

“Number one obviously being the novelty of it,” she said. “A brand launching a new line isn’t as easy a headline-generator as it used to be, but a brand being the first to work with a digital influencer or model is a much more intriguing media angle.”

Buzz Carter, a digital marketer at Bulldog Digital Media, said that many of the CGI influencers he’s seen crop up over the past couple of years seem to be almost “a satire of social media and ‘fake it till you make it culture.”

Dealing with CGI influencers can also be much easier than dealing with living humans. The control brands have over their digital creations is reassuring and definite compared to human beings who often forget to post, don’t tag the brand, or don’t follow the rules.  

How It Works 

Miquela is a CGI — or computer-generated image — created by a Los Angeles-based startup called Brud. In 2018, Brud revealed they were behind the virtual persona all along. In a public statement published on their website, Brud explained their goal was to create “synthetically conscious robots to [manage] and [guide] the careers of our artificially intelligent talent”. The company specializes in artificial intelligence and robotics. According to TechCrunch, Brud is backed by venture capital firms like Sequoia Capital, BoxGroup, and SV Angel. Writer Jenna Sauers explains the CGI behind Miquela best: 

“Images of Miquela are produced using proprietary technology Brud has developed, which explains why Miquela’s clothing always hangs with such dimensionality, and why the light, shadows, and picture depth look so real: the images are composites. Perhaps Miquela is best understood, then, as a kind of augmented reality. A digital flicker in a real image, an optional overlay to the real world.”

The creation of Lil Miquela, along with the other CGI influencers, has opened a door of endless possibilities for the future of social media and the Influencer Economy. The creativity we find in social media will only extend itself further with the continual advancements of technology. If your company is looking to get creative with its digital marketing, contact TriSpark Media today.