Deep Fakes: How Synthetic Video Will Affect the Future of Video Marketing

November 4, 2022 5 min read43
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In the digital media space, we’ve gotten used to spotting manipulated images online. If you’ve ever clicked on a “Photoshop fails” article or cringed at an over-filtered Instagram post, you’ve developed an eye for altered content. 

Today, though, video content is infinitely more compelling than image-based content. And as technology advances, we’re seeing the evolution of a new type of manipulation that applies to video: deep fakes.

Spotting a Photoshop fail is one thing, but deep fakes and other types of synthetic video are becoming more compelling. Here’s what marketers need to know about engaging with synthetic video content, creating synthetic video content, and reimagining the future of production in the deep fakes era.    

What Is Synthetic Video Technology?

Synthetic video is the term for any computer-generated video that’s been manipulated to appear “real.” Most people have also adopted the term “deep fake” to refer to any content—often video or audio in nature—that’s been manipulated to look like something it’s not.

You may have seen this video of Obama making shocking statements or this video of Jon Snow apologizing for the end of Game of Thrones—both textbook examples of deep fakes that went viral.

As you might imagine, there are positive and negative implications for synthetic video technology. First, the positive: AI-driven video eliminates many of the limitations of traditional video production. For businesses and content creators with limited budgets and timelines, synthetic video opens up new doors. 

For example, AI can be used to cut down on your on-set production time, work with specific talent without being in the same place, or incorporate visuals that would be difficult to capture in real life. If you’ve ever wanted an ultra-niche shot for your video content, synthetic video can make the impossible possible. 

On the flip side, the negative examples of synthetic video are hard to ignore. Deep fake technology has been used to generate fake pornography with non-consenting participants (especially celebrities), spread harmful messages using trustworthy public figures as the messenger, or even create fake voice recordings to scam unsuspecting victims.

The scariest part of these harm-inducing deep fakes is that they’re often indistinguishable from a “real” version of the same video. Unless we learn to scrutinize video content more carefully, the consequences of a nefarious deep fake could range from damaged reputations to global security crises.

How to Use Synthetic Video in Your Content Strategy

We’re still learning how to adapt to synthetic video technology in real time, so it’s no surprise that we don’t have all the answers yet. However, we do already have clear use cases for deep fakes in the marketing space. Here are a few ideas you may want to consider for your own video marketing strategy.  

1)     Scale your video marketing initiatives

First, the obvious: this new technology makes it possible to create more video marketing content within existing resource constraints. A traditional production may require cameras, microphones and other audio equipment, lighting, set pieces, props, hair and makeup styling, wardrobe styling, actors and voiceover artists, production permits, and any number of other elements that add to the shoot’s complexity.

If you want to fully embrace synthetic video and let AI do all the work, you can bypass all these costs entirely. Or, for a middle-ground option, you can use AI for some elements of the video and cut down on what you need to cover on set. For example, if you can make some scenes work using synthetic video technology, you may be able to cut your production time in half.  

2)     Surprise audiences with unexpected visuals

You may have already seen the video below, and it’s an interesting example of where synthetic video may be headed. The clip is an ad for the nonprofit Feeding America, and it’s designed to highlight the impact of child hunger in America. 

Knowing that “child hunger” feels like an abstract, intangible problem to most people, the organization used AI to create the look and feel of a “real” child experiencing hunger. 

While audiences had mixed reactions to the ad itself, it’s clear that AI can help a message stand out using the element of surprise. Since synthetic video is relatively new to the marketing scene, audiences aren’t used to these narratives yet, and brands may have success as early adopters in the space.

3)     Create content in multiple languages

One of the most practical benefits of synthetic video technology is the ability to translate your video content into multiple languages. When you don’t have to worry about casting language-specific talent and filming new takes for each language, it’s much easier to make your content accessible worldwide. Sure, adding subtitles and closed-captions to your videos is a great way to mitigate language barriers and enhance understanding, but the translations can often miss the mark.

Just use AI to generate new versions of the content in your target languages, and release multiple versions of the video as needed. 

4)     Personalize your content

Finally, we’re already seeing the benefits of AI tech for personalized video content. 

There are clear implications here in the sales and customer service industries, where tailored messaging helps build relationships and solve customer complaints. Synthetic video can take into account the contact’s name, any information you’ve already gathered about their goals or problems, and other publicly-available data to create a one-of-a-kind video for each person. Much like customer testimonial videos, synthetic video can be used to nurture your existing customer base and turn one-time buyers into brand advocates.

Without AI, this level of customization would be a full-time job, but it works on a mass scale thanks to synthetic video. 

Final Thoughts                                                 

We’re currently witnessing the tip of the iceberg for synthetic video content, which makes it an exciting time for marketers to experiment. 

Test it out to expand your video strategy, cut back on production costs, and delight audiences with unexpected content. And when you see a video that looks too good to be true, remember that it just might be a deep fake, after all. 

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