MediAvataar's News Desk

MediAvataar's News Desk

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Lil Miquela posted her first Instagram post in 2016. Three years later and she has over 1.6 million followers. Not bad for someone who is not even real. Brands are increasingly using virtual influencers like Lil Miquela, but where does virtual brand ambassador cross over into brand deception?

Influencers are all the rage in some circles, but it seems that a few brands have realised that there are big risks attached to taking someone on to be their representative. There is upside to an association with a person with lots of followers: a chance to be endorsed by someone of interest, a person with values that fit your brand, and to be part of the latest cultural vibe. There is also a downside if your chosen ambassador is called out as less than authentic, as Anne Hunter notes in this post, or goes off the rails.

In her post, Anne asks whether brands might not hanker after the surety and consistency of brand icons of days gone by, like the Jolly Green Giant. However, it seems that today’s means of addressing the desires of surety and consistency is to create a virtual brand influencer. As Tiffany Hsu suggests in a New York Times article,

“In a way, virtual influencers are not so far removed from their real-life predecessors. It’s no secret that the humans who promote brands on social media often project a version of daily life that is shinier and happier than the real thing.”

Certainly no one would have imagined that the Jolly Green Giant was a real person and yet, Edward Saatchi, quoted in the New York Times article states,

Eventually, it will be clear that the line between a Miquela and an Alexa is actually very slim.”

And it seems inevitable that at some point brand avatars will be indistinguishable from real humans, able to respond spontaneously and interact just like a real human. According to Hsu, the Federal Trade Commission has yet to issue a ruling about the use of virtual influencers but states that companies using the characters for advertising should ensure that “any claims communicated about the product are truthful, not misleading and substantiated”.

If you ask me it is bad enough Siri suggesting that I use the word ‘please’ when telling it to go away, and it will only be worse when that rebuke is accompanied by a pouty face (for the record, I have now turned Siri off, I do not need yet another desperate AI trying to force its way into my life by purporting to be useful). People have little enough trust in advertising already, and when it becomes common knowledge that marketers are using virtual influencers indistinguishable from real people I suspect that that any remaining faith will evaporate. After all, as my colleague Ben Marshall notes, influencers only have any value because of the perception that they pick and choose what they endorse. If you create influencers that literally do exactly what marketers suggest then what’s the point?

For now, humans buy products and services, not technology, and hopefully they will remain the ultimate decision maker no matter how smart technology becomes. And I think marketers would do well to remember that, to quote various artists from over the years, “there is a fine line between love and hate”. But what do you think?


Written by Nigel Hollis,Executive Vice President and Chief Global Analyst at Kantar’s Insights Division.

Mindshare, the media agency network and part of WPP, recently got awarded ‘Media Network of the Year’ at one of the most coveted festival of creativity, Cannes Lions 2019.

The agency won a Silver in the Media Lions category for HUL Lifebuoy’s ‘Infection Alert System’ and a Bronze in the Creative Data Lions category for the same campaign.

79% of rural consumers use the basic ‘Feature Phone’ which has no internet connectivity. This medium has 6 times higher reach than any other medium in rural areas. The solution was to create a data-led Infection Alert System that would act as a lighthouse to alert the rural consumers when they were most vulnerable to fatal diseases. This was done by leveraging data and the reach of mobile phones in traditionally media dark geographies. Over 64 million Outbound Dialler (OBD) calls were made over a period of 8 weeks to warn the locals on the outbreak of a particular communicable disease in their area and the necessary preventive measures that should be taken.

The Infection Alert System (IAS) also known as ‘Adaptive Data Lighthouse’ was created by Mindshare and used Government of India data on disease outbreaks which was collected from 34,000 rural community health centres across 822 sub-districts/villages of Uttar Pradesh & Bihar. The challenges with this data were that it was unstructured, maintained in paper-forms, in local languages with no metadata standards. Old paper records were digitized and then algorithms used to read and load data into a structured database of 21 communicable diseases. Historical disease incidence was modelled to arrive at predictive incidence rates at a village level, using time series models. If predicted severity of disease incidence for villages were above a certain threshold then warning calls would be activated for those villages only and not the entire state.

The insight behind the campaign was that most Indians eat and feed food using their hands and wash hands without soap. This practise is rampant in rural areas in India which make them susceptible to various communicable diseases. Mindshare’s campaign is a bright example of purpose-driven marketing. The driving force behind the Lifebuoy brand is an inspiring vision for more hygienic, healthier environment and to create vital communities which the campaign embodied.

Commenting on the win MA Parthasarathy (MAPS), CEO South Asia said, “Reaching out to rural consumers has always been a challenge for brands. 70 per cent of Lifebuoy’s sales come from rural India. Building on Lifebuoy’s identity of being a purpose-driven brand, we utilised two of Mindshare’s core pillars- data and technology to create an innovation which made scalable difference. Awards like these motivate teams who were heavily invested in making this a success and also assure us that we are doing some great work.”

“The Lifebuoy “Infection Alert System” brings together some really sharp brand insight with deep media expertise to deliver relevant messaging in a precise fashion to the target audience. The collaboration across various teams on the brand side, media agency and extended partners who helped us land this at a tremendous scale is truly noteworthy. And, the impact along with the recognition is the true testimony of the power of the idea and the validation of the flawless execution by the teams. The Cannes wins make the winning streak of Lifebuoy “Infection Alert System” even more special.” said Gaurav Jeet Singh , General Manager - Media (South Asia) , Hindustan Unilever Limited.

“It’s a proud moment for HUL and Mindshare on the recent Cannes Lions wins for the Lifebuoy Infection Alert System.

A fine realisation of data-driven marketing, the campaign made the best use of unstructured data on disease outbreaks and institutionalise an infection alert system in the hinterland. This warning system would alert consumers most at risk of life-threatening diseases through an automatic calling system. Being contextual to the prevalent disease in their village, consumer receptivity was high resulting in high recall.

It's been quite a journey putting this together and implementing it at scale. This award is a fantastic recognition of the effort that Mindshare, the media and brand teams have put in.” commented Sandeep Kohli, Executive Director, Beauty and Personal Care, Hindustan Unilever Limited

“The purpose of our brand Lifebuoy, India’s largest selling soap, is to help millions of mothers stay one step ahead of infections so that their children fall sick less often. We were able to do this through ‘our infection alert system’, which has won at Cannes, by leveraging data and the reach of mobile phones in traditionally media dark geographies, to ensure we live our purpose.” commented Harman Dhillon, Vice President – Marketing, Hindustan Unilever Limited

The streaming giant recorded 100 Mn active users and a concurrency of 15.6 million, the highest ever in an ODI match, during India vs. Pak in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019

66 % of Hotstar’s reach was witnessed from towns beyond the big metros

Hotstar, India’s largest premium streaming platform, once again shattered records by hitting an unprecedented daily active user number of 100 million during the India vs. Pakistan match on 16th June, making this the highest-ever single day reach for the platform. Underlining the fact that Hotstar’s viewership continues to grow across the width and breadth of India, 66% of the 100 Mn users came in from towns beyond the big metro cities. The streaming giant also registered record-breaking concurrency of 15.6 million, the highest ever for an ODI match, marking a 1.7x increase in average concurrency compared to any other India match.

Unmatched in its sheer scale, this season of ICC Cricket World Cup is being streamed across 6 languages - English, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada. Hotstar has also retained its exciting social layer of #KoiYaarNahiFar with the Watch ‘N Play feature successfully creating an unparalleled and engaging cricket-watching experience for all the Hotstar users. Through this feature, Hotstar enables friends coming together irrespective of their location, allowing them to make their voices heard by chatting about the match and their Watch ‘N Play experience, not only with their friends and family, but also with experts and celebrities.

Commenting on the development, Varun Narang, Chief Product Officer, Hotstar, “We are delighted to have been able to deliver an uninterrupted cricket watching experience to such a large audience at once. Having achieved a single day platform reach of 100 million demonstrates the indisputable technology prowess that Hotstar brings to the OTT industry. This remarkable achievement has helped us set a new viewership benchmark.”

In addition to India, Hotstar is bringing the ICC Cricket World Cup to consumers in the US and Canada as well, who are tuning in to the platform via the app, on the web (us.hotstar.com), Google play store, app store, as well as on living room devices like Roku TV, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Android TV, and Samsung Smart TV.

Hotstar’s immense reach and scale has always made it a preferred destination for advertisers across the country. Offering ad targeting for live sports at scale, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 on Hotstar is an exciting affair for all involved, including co-presenting sponsors Dream 11, Uber Eats, Amazon Pay, and Coca Cola, and associate sponsors Royal Challenge, Acko, CEAT, and ICICI Lombard.

Kantar, the world’s leading data, insights and consulting company extends its leadership in Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration into the advertising and creative world with the announcement of four new big data and AI-based solutions.

The new offerings will help brands, advertising agencies and media companies more efficiently and accurately build and measure campaigns that have global impact.

The new offerings announced during Cannes Lions 2019 are:

Context Lab: A new platform that creates synergy between creative and media strategies. Context Lab answers the question “How does content perform incrementally better in different media environments?” The platform is flexible enough to optimise elements of a sponsorship, assess the value of branded content, evaluating boutique sites, choose the right creative for the right environments, understand potential for influencer or social performance within a live feed or optimise ad units for the environment in which they’ll run.

Creative Transport: A new toolset capable of forecasting how well creative executions designed for one country will perform if transported to other markets. Kantar combines learning from historical ads and the Link™ database to unleash AI-powered predictive models that guide where to reuse creative and where investment in new creative is needed. In beta testing clients have saved up to 30% in reduced creative production costs.

Balanced Attribution: A new solution that allows marketing leaders to balance short-term sales optimization and long-term brand equity growth. Balanced Attribution allows companies to find the right mix of channels, both online and offline. Built on the experience of over 10,000 brand lift studies and enhanced with AI capabilities from Kantar’s Analytics Practice and sales data from Kantar and our partners help clients optimize their marketing to the ideal balance between upper funnel brand objectives and lower funnel sales.

Enhanced Visual Analytics (EVA): A new online platform that analyses social media imagery at scale to help brand owners understand how their brand and products are being visually represented in broader culture. With almost 100 million images uploaded daily to Instagram alone, Enhanced Visual Analytics is the future of how we understand brands in a culturally connected way, and a critical component in how brands develop and deliver content to consumers. Combining AI and semiotics expertise EVA understands the equity that brands and categories have in culture and helps create great content, track brand equity and understand the opportunities in category ‘white space’.

Discussing the launch of Kantar’s latest suite of AI tools Eric Salama, CEO, Kantar said “At Kantar, we have a longstanding reputation as being the world’s most innovative research and consulting company. Today’s launch illustrates clearly how that innovation delivers meaningful impact for our clients across the whole marketing cycle. From understanding how your brand is perceived and used by consumers in social media, to ensuring investments are repurposed or directed to the right channels through to calculating ROI, it is clear AI is beginning to have a significant impact in the world of marketing”.

Ahead of the upcoming union budget, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman asked Indian citizens via social media to share their suggestions on areas that need the government’s attention. She received a flood of opinions on various areas of interest.

When asked about their level of agreement on the ideas presented to the Finance Minister, YouGov survey reveals that majority of the surveyed respondents (80%) agree with the idea that ‘lower interest rates on home loans’ should be a focus of the budget, followed by ‘subsidized education in private schools’.

Interestingly, women are more likely than men to agree with these ideas. People from North and West India (80% respondents saying this in each region) are also more likely to agree with the idea of subsidised education as compared to people of South and East India (71% respondents in each).

Around seven in ten also think ‘Replacing subsidies on basic food commodities with direct benefit transfer to the beneficiary account’ and ‘Universal basic income’ are good areas of focus.

Large numbers are hoping for tax revisions such as TDS reduction (62%), increasing income tax exemptions (60%) and replacing income tax with expenditure tax (55%) to be a part of the upcoming budget.

While the majority favours almost all of the suggestions made to the minister, two in five (40%) disagree with the idea of legalising gambling in the country. Interestingly, there is a considerable demand for legalising gambling in the country, with residents of tier-3 cities more likely to demand this from the government than other city residents.

In general, job creation, women safety and provisions of healthcare facilities are people’s top expectation from the government. YouGov research shows that the priorities of people have not changed since January when we first questioned them on their expectations from the interim budget. Jobs, women safety and healthcare were the top demands and the data shows that people are consistently demanding the same from the government. However, the number of people saying this has either gone up by a small percent or remains the same.

While almost the same number of people say controlling inflation and subsidy for education should be the focus in the budget, the number of people saying the government should emphasize on environment sustainability, investment in infrastructure and modernisation of railways has gone down to some extent.

Data collected online by YouGov India among 1,025 respondents in India in June 2019, using YouGov’s panel of an online representation of India

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