🤖 Virtual Influencers Make a Comeback

AP & Reuters Pulitzer power 🏆, OpenAI's scraping vs. partnership debate 🤖, Virtual influencers—back from the dead 👻.

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Welcome, creative friends!

Virtual influencers? Yeah, it's a thing. And before you scoff, they're making cold, hard digital cash. So, wanna know more?

In today's rundown

For your artistic side.

Left: “Haitian migrants wade through water as they cross the Darién Gap from Colombia to Panama in hopes of reaching the U.S., Tuesday, May 9, 2023.” | AP Photo/Ivan Valencia

Right: “In a final embrace Inas Abu Maamar, 36, cradles the shroud-wrapped body of her five-year-old niece, Saly, who died in Israeli strikes on Khan Younis, at the Nasser Hospital morgue before her funeral in southern Gaza, October 17, 2023.” | Photo by Mohammed Salem.

Associated Press and Reuters have snagged Pulitzer Prizes for their powerful photography, with AP taking the Feature Photography category for its coverage of the ongoing migrant crisis and Reuters winning Breaking News Photography for its documentation of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The wins come with $15k in prize money and a serious dose of validation. While AP has celebrated its migration reporting as “AP at its best,” Reuters leaned into its winning photo series as “raw and urgent” storytelling from a tragic conflict that's left over 90 journalists dead.

What’s more, these snaps tell the stories words sometimes can’t. It’s visual journalism at its finest, and now it’s award-winning. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand Pulitzers.

The commercial aspects of creativity.

Virtual influencers are making a comeback, thanks to the creator economy and the rise of AI. These digital darlings are captivating brands with their low costs, 24/7 availability, and unrivaled content control.

Imagine cutting production costs from $50k to under $1k or having an influencer that can’t get caught in a scandal.

But is the tradeoff worth it? Before you dive headfirst into the virtual pool, consider this: Do consumers really want to connect with a digital double or just learn how to do their makeup from a non-human?

Experts say there’s still room for virtual stars, but their sweet spot might just be in the functional realm, leaving the emotional heavy lifting to their flesh-and-blood counterparts. They can't replicate the human experience or emotion that often resonates with audiences.

As for human influencers, they might need to watch their backs as AI-powered competitors could drive rates down and reshape the creator economy.

It's a mixed bag, and the creator economy is watching to see if virtuals will stick around this time.


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Navigating the digital creative world.

OpenAI is reportedly courting news publishers for a partnership initiative called the "Preferred Publishers Program". The program offers select publishers financial incentives, including a guaranteed payment for access to their archives and a variable payment based on user engagement with linked content.

Since July, it's linked up with the likes of The AP, The Financial Times, and more. It’s all part of OpenAI’s push to get news content in front of its AI’s users, with a little $$$ thrown in for publishers.

In return, OpenAI can use the publishers' content to train its models and display attributed links to their articles in its AI responses. The program aims to drive more browsing behavior within OpenAI's chat platform, where users are already clicking on links 25% of the time.

It’s raising some eyebrows given that just a few months ago, publishers and OpenAI were talking lawsuits over copyright. Now, OpenAI’s preferred-pub program is trying to make more publishers more, well, preferred.


Lærke Blix

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🔥 Press Worthy


Generative AI faces lawsuits over alleged copyright infringement. Google’s dataset reportedly features copyrighted imagery. If successful, these cases could have sweeping implications for the future of AI in the arts.

Apple says sorry for “Crush!” ad promoting the new iPad Pro, after creatives like Hugh Grant called it a "destruction of human experience," while Handmaid's Tale director Reed Morano told Apple CEO Tim Cook to “read the room.”


Adobe pays creators $120 for videos to train its generative AI, playing catch-up with OpenAI's Sora in text-to-video capabilities.

Nikon's purchase of RED Cinema cost them just $87m. Much less than expected. How bad was RED's financial situation?


TikTok secures a groundbreaking partnership with C2PA, slapping AI-made content with tags. First-ever video-sharing platform to do so.

OpenAI unveils Media Manager, allowing creators to opt out of their content being used for AI training. Many think this is "too little too late".

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