Blurring lines between fiction and reality: Perspectives of experts on marketing effectiveness of virtual influencers

Evangelos, Moustakas, Lamba, Nishtha ORCID logoORCID:, Mahmoud, Dina and Ranganathan, C. (2020) Blurring lines between fiction and reality: Perspectives of experts on marketing effectiveness of virtual influencers. In: 2020 International Conference on Cyber Security and Protection of Digital Services (Cyber Security), 15-19 June 2020, Online. . [Conference or Workshop Item] (Published online first)

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Virtual influencers are computer generated human avatars with a wide following on social media. Luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Prada are increasingly partnering with them to promote their new line of products. Lil Miquela, the most popular virtual influencer, has 1.7 million followers on Instagram. She is fictional, recognizes herself as a robot, but displays human emotions through her posts and interactions with her followers. Generally, research suggests that virtual influencers offer novelty but may lack authenticity and reliability like human social influencers. Despite increased recent media attention on the topic, to our knowledge, there is no empirical research on the effectiveness of using virtual influencers as a marketing gimmick. Due to lack of literature in the field, we chose an exploratory qualitative design to explore the advantages and disadvantages of using fictional characters as a marketing strategy. We administered semistructured interviews with six experts in the field of digital media. Thematic analysis was utilized to explore repetitive patterns in their opinions and suggestions. The respondents primarily highlighted potential challenges of using virtual influencers, identified factors which may make them successful as a marketing strategy, and compared the appeal of humanized versus animated virtual influencers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Social Media Conference ©2020 IEEE
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 35280
Depositing User: Nishtha Lamba
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2022 08:47
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 18:21

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