Author: Su Qi
Editor: Jin yuyu
At 3 a.m., there are not only 24-hour convenience stores, but also hundreds of 24-hour virtual anchor live rooms that are not closed.
Some users began to lament the inner volume of the live broadcast session, "Li Jiaqi's opponent has become non-human?"
In fact, as early as may day in 2020, virtual idols brought goods in the live broadcasting room. At that time, virtual idols Luo Tianyi and Li Jiaqi broadcast live on the same stage with high attention and once boarded the microblog hot search.
In the past two years, the virtual anchor with goods has "run into" the live broadcasting rooms of major platforms.
In November, 2021, Kwai virtual anchor "guanxiaofang" appeared in the live broadcast room of Kwai store.
In February 2022, Jingdong beauty virtual anchor "Xiaomei" appeared in more than 20 beauty brand live broadcasting rooms such as YSL, L'Oreal and Keyan.
In April 2022, Taobao announced three major directions of live broadcast marketing in 2022, among which virtual anchor and 3D scene became the incremental market of live broadcast.
Under the dual background of strong regulation of live e-commerce and the upsurge of meta universe, virtual goods anchor has become a new increment promoted by MCN institutions and major live e-commerce platforms, as if this is a new trend of live e-commerce in 2022 and should not be missed.
However, the technology cost of virtual goods anchor is high and there is no recognized pricing standard; The prices of virtual anchors under different technical means are vastly different; Most virtual anchors have no interaction and need the assistance of real anchors; The conversion rate is not as good as that of live anchor. Various limitations make merchants who need to take out real gold and silver have concerns.
What kinds of technical means do virtual people need to bring goods? How much does it cost to enter? All parties are boosting the virtual goods anchor. How should brands and businesses choose? Is the virtual goods anchor a gimmick or a trend? This article will try to answer these questions.
At present, the virtual anchor with goods can be divided into two types in terms of technology driven methods. One is the virtual anchor driven by AI technology, and the other is the virtual anchor driven by real people.
There are two ways to present the virtual goods anchor driven by AI technology: pure AI virtual anchor and the combined anchor of "real person + virtual person"; The virtual anchor driven by real people, composed of "virtual image" and "people in the middle" behind the scenes, is also one of the mainstream virtual live broadcasting methods in the market.
The first type of pure AI virtual anchor is "tireless", which can achieve 24-hour circular live broadcasting, or continue live broadcasting instead of them after being broadcast by real anchor.
After 12 a.m., virtual anchors usually come out for business. Recently, kaipineapple finance has noticed that there are virtual anchors selling goods live, such as beauty brands such as kazilan, Meiji and Watson, shoes and clothing brands such as Senma and vans, food brands such as xuanma egg yolk pastry, 3C electronic brands such as switch, and many home textile brands.
Virtual anchor Live Room
Founder of virtual content technology service provider Shiyou Technology & amp; CEO Ji Zhihui said that the advantage of AI virtual anchor lies in its low cost and the ability to liberate manpower through AI, but the anchor's actions and scripts are basically preset templates through AI technology and real-time animation technology. Because AI virtual anchors also lack the training of real-time interaction with people, they can only answer the questions preset by the live broadcasting system for the questions and demands of consumers.
But in the future, Ji Zhihui said that through the breakthrough of AI technology, the problem of real-time interaction will be gradually solved. AI virtual anchor must have a wide range of application scenarios in the future, and now there are certain application scenarios.
Why can't the virtual anchor answer the user's questions in time? Li Yunfan, the investment manager of Xianfeng Changqing, once investigated the virtual personification market. According to his financial analysis of pineapple, there are three possible reasons: first, the brand did not set up a complete answer database, resulting in not enough keywords triggered, and the user's questions were ignored; Second, the virtual anchor is generally set to explain the goods one by one, and will interact with the audience only in the gap time, while the machine does not necessarily return to see the previous bullet screen, resulting in the loss of some information; Third, the virtual anchor will choose common questions to answer, so that as many listeners as possible can benefit in the shortest time.
This kind of live broadcasting room is mainly loaded by live anchors in other time periods. The real conversion rate and Gmv performance brought by AI anchors are not easy to measure, but many respondents pointed out that their interaction and viewing data are generally general.
Since the AI anchor in the above live broadcasting room does not have the ability of independent interaction, the second type of live broadcasting room will match the real person to help the virtual person, and choose the combined mode of "real person + virtual person" for live broadcasting. For example, the virtual IP "one Zen little monk" of Dayu network, a MCN organization, has been broadcasting live with goods since May this year; The food knowledge account "I don't want to eat for nothing" that grew up on the Tiktok platform began live broadcasting and bringing goods as early as March 2020.
"Zen" account is being broadcast live
The e-commerce company Yuanwang network released "virtual anchor" Zhou Xiaoyu on April 17. It said that it is the "twin anchor" of its anchor Mr. Yu, which uses AI face synthesis technology based on deep learning. Yuanwang said that the cost of this technology will be much lower than that of traditional CG virtual human production.
Young master Yu (left) and "twin anchor" Zhou Xiaoyu (right) source / screenshot of live broadcast
"This kind of virtual anchor has accumulated a certain degree of IP recognition and fan stickiness in the early stage. It has its own traffic. A real anchor introduces products. They appear as mascots and assistants. The overall effect of carrying goods is lower than that of the head real anchor, but better than AI anchor." Analysys retail industry senior analyst Chen Tao said.
Some data show that in the past three months, "I don't want to eat for nothing" has been broadcast 37 times in Tiktok, with a cumulative sales of 10.8899 million yuan. As an account with 22.546 million fans, the carrying data is lower than other food accounts with the same fan level as Tiktok.
The third category is the real person driven virtual anchor, which is composed of "virtual image" and "man in the middle" behind the scenes. This means that behind the scenes of the virtual anchor, there should be real people wearing mobile capture equipment to voice and perform, so as to achieve the effect of real-time interaction.
Technology module used by 3D virtual digital human
Ji Zhihui introduced that the real person driven virtual anchor has a certain technical threshold and cost, including three-dimensional modeling technology, bone binding, real-time rendering technology, dynamic capture actors and special live broadcasting equipment. However, the interaction of real person driven virtual anchor is similar to that of real person anchor. In the future, as the image of real person driven virtual human becomes more and more realistic, the interaction ability is basically the same as that of real person, and the cost will be lower and lower.
What is the effect of virtual human carrying goods? According to the Research Report of the cheetah Research Institute, under the scenario of daily traffic, the sales of virtual people can reach 150% - 200% of the live broadcast in the first three days after they are applied in the live broadcast room, but the sales after three days quickly fall back and stabilize at 10% - 30% of the live broadcast room.
At present, the application of virtual human in the field of e-commerce live broadcasting is not mature, but it does not hinder the entry of e-commerce platforms and MCN institutions. What drives them to add weight is the great change of live e-commerce and the "meta universe boom" in 2021.
Last year, the live broadcast e-commerce industry entered a reshuffle period. At the end of the year, the investigation of tax evasion of many anchor anchors with goods on their heads poured cold water on the industry. Therefore, the major live broadcast e-commerce platforms began to find another outlet to promote brand store broadcasting, but the stickiness of fans is poor. At the same time, the problem of anchor stability still exists. For example, many stores mentioned that "their own anchor is frequently dug".
The timely emergence of "virtual anchor" is considered to solve human problems and become a new outlet for the live broadcast e-commerce industry. Liu's voice of "selling goods in November" will usher in the era of "virtual goods", and Liu's voice will bring dividends to the virtual goods industry in November.
"Whoever runs fast will get the bonus first", Chen Tao said. After the successful technological change, it may also stimulate new demand, and the e-commerce platform and MCN organization are bound to be laid out in advance.
Businesses are also one of the forces to boost virtual anchors. What is the driving force for this group to be a virtual goods anchor?
The most direct factor is the cost. Chen Tao said that compared with live anchors, the marginal effect of AI virtual anchors that start broadcasting 24 hours is gradually increasing and the cost is gradually decreasing. "Although its transformation effect may not be as obvious as that of real-life anchor, it has a higher overall cost performance. This may be the reason why a large number of virtual people have appeared in the live studio intensively in the past year."
In addition to cost performance, businesses also hope to enjoy platform dividends and a new round of traffic dividends.
"In terms of the platform, there is an assessment on the live broadcast duration of businesses. Generally speaking, the longer the live broadcast duration, the more traffic inclination of the platform will be. The virtual anchor can truly achieve 24-hour 'live broadcast without Sunset'," Li Yunfan said.
For example, many people can't sleep in the early morning and want to shop, but businesses start broadcasting in this period of time, which has low cost performance. If virtual people are used in the future, it can increase the transformation of these periods, improve and supplement ROI.
At the same time, businesses also need new and relatively low-cost live content to capture the attention of more generation Z users. Yang Ming, a technology service provider in the virtual human industry, believes that the secondary image is deeply rooted in the hearts of many Z generations, and they are more willing to pay attention to and accept virtual anchors.
Su Hao, the person in charge of marketing innovation business of Shiqu, a brand integrated marketing company, also has the same view. "After one or two years of technological development and practice, brands and businesses have found that the audience and fans captured by the virtual anchor can bring a different streaming effect from the real artist or head anchor. Especially for the FMCG track where the customer group is mostly young people, the virtual anchor has played its value."
However, it is undeniable that there are still limitations in the combination of virtual human technology and application scenarios, especially in the interaction with real objects. If the platform, MCN and businesses want to share the cake, they must continue to invest.
Yuanwang said that the virtual anchor can not do some face related interactions, such as lipstick and skin care products, but by supplementing various efficiency improvement algorithms in the process of machine learning, the company's current technology application can achieve the interaction with the real object.
In order to achieve better live broadcast effect and user experience, businesses also need to constantly debug, "polish the reply script and improve the function of interaction with users; also need to train virtual anchors with technology like training real anchors; optimize the live broadcast scene and gradually adapt users to 3D with a complete virtual e-commerce ecology." Li Yunfan said.
In general, virtual anchor is one of the trends in the industry. More and more live broadcasting rooms are equipped with virtual anchor, but the roles and functions of virtual anchor are different. Li Yunfan said, "some categories start from cost performance and only need the most basic anchor function. Some categories are very concerned about the interactive experience of customers. For example, beauty merchants need highly intelligent anchors."
In his opinion, the virtual anchor is still in a very early stage. Coupled with its characteristics, there will be no dominance in a short time.
The 24-hour online live virtual anchor with goods has become a hot pastry in the eyes of all parties. How much does it cost to enter the virtual anchor?
Ji Zhihui calculated an account: the cost of AI virtual anchor of software tools can be very cheap. If you choose to broadcast the image in the system, you can carry out template virtual live broadcasting, which costs hundreds to thousands of yuan a month; The price of real-time driven virtual anchor is expensive. From 3D modeling of virtual human, bone binding, to real-time rendering and voice generation during live broadcast, the cost of 3D virtual image technology alone will be tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands.
In addition to technical costs, there are also team and equipment costs. The person in charge of a virtual anchor team once said that for the technical link of single action capture, at least four people should be configured, while for the live anchor with the same level of goods, there are only three people as standard, "each set of live broadcast technology equipment costs hundreds of thousands".
Since September last year, many virtual content technology service providers have felt that Liu Yexi has ignited the industry's enthusiasm for virtual people, and there have been more orders. During that time, some companies will add four or five new needs every day, and more than a dozen new needs can be found.
The popularity of the industry has attracted many virtual human technology start-ups, focusing on the upstream and downstream industrial chains related to virtual human, such as virtual digital image and real-time online interactive technology. Yang Ming revealed that the "water" in the technical field is deep, there is no recognized pricing standard, and the different requirements of businesses make the quotation of each technology provider of virtual live broadcasting very different. In addition, the addition of middlemen makes the purchase price of merchants more opaque.
According to Chen Tao's analysis, the industry is in the early stage of development. When customers know their needs better and the industry has standardized products, it will gradually get better. Standardized products can not only directly promote the price transparency of virtual people, but also reduce the cost of enterprises.
Yang Ming's company has launched a set of standard solutions. He introduced that the company sold the live broadcast technology architecture with a market price of 600000 to MCN institutions in batches at a price of about 200000. "The copyright of the virtual human belongs to the merchant, and the live broadcast system can be rented or purchased quarterly."
According to Ji Zhihui, Shiyou technology has "downgraded" the original computing power and hardware resources of to big B into standard products and shared them in the cloud. It has become a SaaS system of 3D digital virtual content live broadcasting service, which is used to serve more small B businesses and even C-end customers, so that they can create a virtual live broadcasting space more conveniently.
However, although professional virtual human production companies have technology, they do not necessarily have the ability of content planning, nor do they necessarily understand the playing method and rhythm of live broadcasting. Ji Zhihui believes that what is really lacking in the industry is content operators. "Most businesses do virtual live broadcasting for the first time and have no experience. Technology providers also have a distance from the market and users, which requires content operators and businesses to polish the process."
"At present, the virtual anchor is still in the trial period, and we haven't seen any cases where the delivery effect is particularly good and can be copied on a large scale." Many respondents said.
Only put virtual people in the live studio to bring goods. "The pattern is a little small," some practitioners said.
What are the application scenarios of virtual human?
"To make a virtual human IP, carrying goods in the live broadcast room is only one of the landing scenes, and it is an early and wise choice. Once the virtual human is built into an IP image, it is definitely not only used to carry goods, but also can serve the brand. Of course, the premise of precipitating into brand assets is to continue content output and long-term operation and maintenance." Su Hao said.
Ji Zhihui also believes that the virtual anchor can be used as a fixed asset of the brand in the future, and the precipitation value is unlimited. In the future, the use of virtual image may be as common as every enterprise is equipped with official website and live studio, and become an indispensable window for external publicity. In the process of serving enterprises, he found that the application scenarios of virtual human have become more and more extensive.
Combined with the views of many respondents, three scenes have been explored in the market.
The first is brand endorsement. Communicate with consumers through virtual people to create emotional value. This is the scene with the highest consumer perception at present. At present, there have been IP addresses such as ayayi, Lingling and huaxizi's brand virtual image of the same name, involving commercial fields such as live delivery, brand endorsement and variety shows.
Xiaohongshu account of ayayi and Lingling
With the progress of technology, the brand has also carried out many iterations in building the corporate image. Su Hao summary, web1 0 era, what the brand does is a static web page official website, which is convenient for users to search for themselves on the Internet; Web2. In the era of 0, brands began to make social media to realize user interaction, and "double micro, one shake and one fast" became the standard configuration. Corporate brands were further personalized and emotional to achieve the purpose of empathy with consumers; Web3. In the marketing of 0 era, virtual people will become the "guide" for brands to link consumers and enter the future virtual scene, as well as the symbolic symbol of the extension of brand external marketing, and produce more interactive content through new technical forms.
Secondly, virtual people can display products more vividly, such as virtual press conferences, virtual brand activities, etc.
Su Hao, for example, now some auto brands will do a 1:1 digital twin modeling and establish a material library when launching a new model. "When future manufacturers shoot TVC (TV advertising film) of cars, they don't need real cars anymore. They only need to shoot with virtual materials in virtual scenes, which can also break through the limitations that many physical materials can't reach."
In March this year, decentraland, a meta universe game platform, also held the world's first meta universe fashion week. More than 60 fashion brands contributed more than 500 shapes, which is also a good example.
The third scenario is that virtual people provide users with services in the virtual space, such as virtual enterprise exhibition hall and virtual business hall.
Yang Ming once led the team to build an online virtual space for a company and created the role of virtual employees, which can lead users to see the company's products and development history. After that, users may be able to pay fees and socialize in the virtual business hall.
It has to be said that the current virtual anchor is still subject to many restrictions because it is still in the transition period from the smartphone era to the meta universe era. Su Hao said that when the era of the meta universe comes, the "people and goods yard" is reconstructed in the virtual space, and the virtual anchor can break through the barriers and play a greater value.
Before the advent of the meta universe era, practitioners also need to make joint efforts in technological breakthroughs, cost reduction and infrastructure construction. Nie Dongchen, CCV partner of Chuangshi partners, once said that at present, the company's investment framework is optimistic about two types of virtual human companies: one is a company with leading technology in the industry and the ability to continuously build competitive barriers, which can continue to lead the market or similar competitors; The other is to form a digital human platform or meta universe platform under the presence of giants. Such enterprises have higher value and test the company's ability to build and control Internet business.
In general, virtual human is not only the outlet of live e-commerce, but also considered by practitioners as a "Pathfinder" in the era of meta universe. Many respondents suggested that relatively mature platforms, institutions and brands have been laid out in advance, and virtual people are put into and operated as a digital asset, rather than the "tools with goods" in the live broadcasting room. Small and medium-sized businesses that are eager to do their best should wait until the technical threshold is lowered, so that they can enter the site with higher cost performance.
*At the request of the interviewee, Yang Ming is a pseudonym in the text.