Milla Sofia -- a "virtual influencer" born in Finland two months ago at age 19, was created from several artificial intelligence (AI) tools, but her creator says the two most important were Stable Diffusion and self-taught AI models.
Her creator -- who goes by the anonymous name “agent,” at least for now -- told Search & Performance Marketing Daily in an email that she was created as the face for an advertising campaign to support a Finnish online store brand.
“I thought of trying to create her face with the help of artificial intelligence, because I was interested in the possibilities brought by the technology,” the agent wrote. Some of the most successful creators have an agent.
The creator economy continues to grow exponentially, without any signs of slowing down, according to Forrester Research. Younger audiences say creators are the primary way they discover new products. More than 300 million creators and growing. In Forrester’s Q1 2023 marketing results surveying business to business decision makers nearly three-quarters said they would partner with creators and influencers this year.
While it is unclear exactly who created Sofia and her multiple social-media accounts, followers interact with her as if she were a real person. She has more than 100,000 followers on TikTok and more than 14,000 on X. The comment sections on her videos on YouTube and social media posts are filled with compliments.
No doubt this trend will continue as the technology becomes easier and less expensive to make interactive versions of the influencers.
Sofia is now 24 and a fashion model, according to her bio, who brings “unparalleled and futuristic perspective to the realm of style" with a passion that showcases the latest trends and pushes the boundaries in the ever-evolving fashion industry.
The goal is to develop Milla as a fashion model and influencer that can be taken seriously, the agent explains, which is the reason the agent changed Sofia's age from 19 to 24, because after thinking about it, the agent thought “it seemed that a 19-year-old didn’t have enough experience for the tasks planned for her.”
Virtual influencers like Sofia are not common, but also not unusual. Rozy, another AI influencer created by Sidus Studio X in 2021, offers advantages over human influencers. The savings is considerably lower, the agent said, but stopped short of providing a cost.
“With the help of AI, virtual model marketing can be done by one person at short notice,” the agent wrote. “While it takes many people and a lot of work to cooperate with the human model.”
Most of the tools are free, helping to keep costs low. The biggest contribution required to create the AI-generated influencer is expertise and time, the agent said.
Having the influencer move like a real human will be possible in the future, but at the moment technology doesn’t exist that would enable to keep cost down and quality high.
The cost to higher a human influencer varies greatly, between $100 to $1 million per post, depending on the influence and following of the creator, said Forrester Principal Analyst Kelsey Chickering.
“Other inputs beginning to go into the cost, is what the influencer delivers in sales,” Chickering said. “I’ve talked with brands that say while working with mega influencer is great for driving awareness of a product, it doesn’t necessarily drive sales. Mid-tier influencers may not have the biggest following, but the following they have trust them and drive sales for their products.”
Chickering views virtual influencers similar to creating a television or movie character created by a series of artists or writers that consumers may follow on social media. It will be important to be transparent as to whether the influencer is human or created by AI.
Futurism lays claim to initially breaking the news last month.