AI live stream influencers taking over Chinese e-commerce

September 27, 2023

Chinese online retailers like TaoBao use influencers to live stream product demonstrations on their platforms, but a lot of them are now being replaced by AI digital clones.

Having a popular live streamer sell your product in China works well, but there’s a physical limit to how long they can keep up the sales energy in front of the camera.

Chinese retailers are increasingly turning to companies like Silicon Intelligence and Xiaoice to have AI digital clones made of their human live streamers.

Previously this was a lengthy and expensive exercise, but now these companies can create an AI influencer from 1 minute of video at a cost of around $1,000.

The AI live streamer avatars move and speak in a way that is hard to distinguish from a human presenter, except that they never seem to tire. These AI shopping channel presenters can sell their products non-stop, 24/7.

Once the digital influencer is created it just needs a human to input product data and pricing. An AI-generated script is approved and then the AI live streamer can get down to the business of selling the product.

Selling products on a live stream is a very interactive experience. Viewers give feedback by hitting the ‘like’ buttons or commenting. The smarter AI influencers are able to answer questions in the comments to remain fully engaged with their audience.

Here’s an example of an AI live streamer created by Silicon Intelligence. Would you have known this wasn’t a real person in front of the camera?

Source: Silicon Intelligence

These AI digital clones may not bring in sales like some of the most popular human live streamers but they are putting pressure on the average end of the human scale.

Xiaoice says that one of its AI streamers brought in over 10,000 yuan, or $1,370 in sales in an hour. When you don’t have to pay a salary or commission to your presenter then these AI clones make more and more commercial sense.

The e-commerce live stream industry in China is booming but it’s getting harder to find a job as a presenter.

One report stated that there are currently 32 leading live broadcast platforms in Hangzhou with nearly 50,000 anchors. Demand for positions is increasing but salaries are dropping.

Xiao Zhong, a live streamer in Hangzhou who sells mainly clothing said, “Full-time anchors like me are pretty good, but the hourly wages of part-time anchors have basically been cut in half.”

Statistics from industry organization iiMedia Consulting show that presenters on average are earning 30% less than they were in 2022.

A lot of this can be attributed to a downturn in the Chinese economy but AI live streamers will increasingly drive this trend.

Silicon Intelligence says it has created 400,000 virtual streamers and aims to make 100 million of them by 2025. Besides TaoBoa, other big tech Chinese companies like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent are also starting to use AI presenters in their live streams.

You’ve got to feel for the human presenters who are filmed performing for 1 minute and then take a backseat to an AI clone of themselves. But the economics are hard to ignore.

If someone is watching an online shopping channel at 3 a.m. with their credit card in hand they’re probably not overly concerned whether the presenter is human or not.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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