TikTok’s New AI Avatars Are a Cheaper Alternative to Hiring Influencers

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Hands holding a mobile device showing the TikTok logo on screen

TikTok is currently testing AI-generated avatars for brands and creators to use when producing ads. As more businesses start selling on TikTok and customers look to the app for product recommendations, these AI avatars offer a creative and cost-effective way to engage with their audience, provided they can still build brand trust.

The feature sits within TikTok Symphony, the platform’s suite of AI tools which first launched in May.

Is this a cheaper alternative to hiring influencers? Are customers likely to buy from an AI-generated ad? How can brands use AI avatars as part of an influencer marketing strategy? I’ll explore the new feature and explain how businesses can use it below.

Symphony Digital Avatars

TikTok video page promoting AI avatars
TikTok used an AI-generated avatar to announce its Digital Avatars. You can also see that the video is labeled as AI-generated content. Source: Website Builder Expert

TikTok has announced two types of Symphony Digital Avatars: stock and custom. Businesses can “add a human touch” to their TikTok content with pre-built Stock Avatars. For these, paid actors and creators can license their likenesses for commercial use.

Alternatively, you can use a Custom Avatar. These AI-generated avatars can be tailored to become the face or mascot of a brand. TikTok influencers can also “leverage their own likeness” to expand their portfolio of work around the world with multi-language abilities.

To use the Digital Avatars, TikTok’s Creative Studio will give you the option to add an avatar to your uploaded video. Brands can then tweak the voice and style to suit the content.

An Uncanny Likeness

TikTok shared that 58% of individuals using the app trust brands that have been promoted by TikTok creators. As a result, businesses must capture the attention of scrollers with authentic and human – or at least, human-looking – content to stay ahead.

However, with actors’ and writers’ unions protesting the use of AI last year, and Scarlett Johansson recently accusing OpenAI of copying her voice, there’s no telling if it will all go smoothly once TikTok’s Digital Avatars launch widely.

That said, TikTok claims the purpose of the AI-generated avatars isn’t to replace genuine human-led content. TikTok argues that the technology frees up time for a business to focus on other ad campaigns and marketing strategies. From our initial inspection, these Digital Avatars can also be a useful tool for experimenting with new content styles.

All TikTok content using Digital Avatars will be marked as AI-generated content. But, be careful before you go down this road. While this does offer transparency and shows that you’re not looking to mislead customers, some users might frown upon the use of AI and shop elsewhere.

Are TikTok’s AI Avatars Cheaper Than Hiring Influencers?

TikTok’s unveiling of Digital Avatars aims to make it easy for brands to create ads quickly. If you’re a small business with a tiny budget, you don’t need to worry about the hassle of hiring an influencer and managing that relationship directly.

Instead, businesses can use pre-built avatars. These can be customized further to suit the video or the brand’s needs. If you decide to use a Custom Avatar, you’ll have visibility over influencer rates, since creators will set the price for using their likeness.

Andy Yang, Head of Creative Product at TikTok, said:

“Symphony Digital Avatars unlock a new avenue for creators to scale their opportunities with brands globally. We aim to fuel the creator economy by investing in creative solutions that spark joy, imagination and action.”

While “sparking joy” might remind some of cleaning guru Marie Kondo, TikTok shared that 79% of TikTok users favor brands that know how to create engaging content on the app.

At this time, limited users and creators have access to TikTok’s Symphony Creative Studio. Businesses can sign up for the waitlist to get first access to the tool.

For more advice on using the app effectively with your brand, read our guide on TikTok business ideas or take a look at our TikTok tips and tricks.

Written by:
emma ryan author bio
Emma’s been a Senior Writer at Website Builder Expert since 2022, having first-hand experience with website builders, such as Wix and Shopify, through hands-on testing and research analysis. Her work and expertise have been featured in Digiday, TechRound, Industry Today, and Digital Information World. Specializing in writing about website builders, ecommerce platforms, and hosting providers, Emma stays in the loop of industry updates by attending conferences such as eCommerce Expo and managing Website Builder Expert’s news articles.

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