Betrayal by CGI: Almost half of Gen Y and Z don't know they're following a bot

What if the influencer you had been following on Instagram -- whose choices you admired, and whose social causes that you believed in -- turned out to be a robot?
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

Are we really influenced by influencers? And could we be influenced by an influencer that turned out to be a CGI bot? A new survey says we can, and almost half of Gen Z and Gen Y have followed an influencer not knowing it was CGI.

Los Angeles, CA-based social entertainment company Fullscreen has done some research into consumer sentiments around CGI (bot) influencers.

The study, Can CGI Influencers Have Real Influence?aimsto see what is resonating with audiences and understand what the youth market finds appealing about their presence. 

The study was conducted by Fullscreen's research panel, TBH (To Be Honest), between Sept. 14-Oct. 26 among 534 respondents. 

The study findings intend to enable brands to conduct custom research and campaigns to this audience.

According to the study, over two out of five (42 percent) respondents have followed an influencer they thought was real but turned out to be CGI.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents said that they felt surprised and intrigued when they found out and 60 percent thought it was funny. However, some felt betrayed (42 percent), or annoyed (41 percent).

Over half (54 percent) of respondents agree that they want to know who is behind the facade of the CGI influencer. 

This social-first audience wants to see brands involved with CGI influencers, namely those in entertainment (39 percent), travel (35 percent), and retail (31 percent).  Respondents said they would like to see CGI influencers from companies such as Nike, Adidas, McDonald's, and various beauty brands. 

Over one-third (37 percent) of respondents are aware of CGI influencers but don't follow them, and one-fifth (20 percent) follow a CGI influencer whilst over half (56 percent) would intentionally follow a CGI influencer. 

Betrayal by CGI almost half of Gen Y and Z do not know they are following a botzdnet

Over half of the respondents who engage with CGI Influencers have: made a purchase (55 percent), attended an event (55 percent), followed a brand (53 percent), or researched a brand or product (52 percent).

Maureen Polo, general manager, Fullscreen Brand Studio said: 

When it comes to CGI influencers, transparency is critical.

While our study showed that a majority of Gen Z and millennials were intrigued rather than irritated when they found out an influencer they followed wasn't a human, brands should still err on the side of caution and practice transparency, as more than half of respondents said they want to know who is behind the facade.

We found that not only does creative control not mean better content, but that fans should always be put first.

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