Virtual Influencers & Their Application Within B2B

Virtual Influencers: Secrets of Audience Intelligence (episode 3)- ‘Virtual Influencers & Their Application Within B2B’.

In this episode, we were joined by Dudley Nevill-Spencer Head of Strategy at Live and Breathe, Founder of the Virtual Influencer Agency.

We discussed:- Virtual influencers and their application in B2B.

And we covered these interesting topics

  • Consumer segmentation and the role of social data
  • Consumer behaviours pre and post COVID
  • Role of audience intelligence in campaign planning and execution
  • Agencies vs consultancies ‘battle’

We also discussed the use of virtual influencers moving ahead in business  and in particular using natural language processing (NLP) and it’s useage in AR / VR and combining them with traditional skills of brand architecture, research, planning and comms.

We also discuss chatbots and the next 10 years in the world of virtual influencers.

Consumer segmentation and the role of social data: in brief

Consumer segmentation and the role of social data are crucial to creating virtual influencers and making them relevant to their manufactured audiences: Virtual influencers are digital avatars that have been created to replicate real-life personalities. Brands use virtual influencers mainly to sell products or services by creating a Virtual relationship between the Virtual Influencer and its audience. Virtual Influencers can be involved in either Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented reality (AR). Virtual influencers will become much more important to brand communications in the next few years as Virtual Influencers can be used to communicate on any platform, including social media, customer service platforms and Virtual Reality or Augmented reality. Virtual influencers are Virtual Consumers created by brands for marketing purposes. Virtual Influencers have been around for some time but mainly focused on virtual reality (VR) experiences designed to entertain and not used as customer service or marketing/ sales support bots.

Consumer behaviours pre and post COVID is also discussed within this interview.

Today, consumers are more empowered than ever and have access to vast amounts of information online. Virtual influencers can help a company speak at the right time with the right message and in a way that resonates with their audiences. Virtual influencers allow for brand authenticity – it’s like having someone you trust recommending something to you as opposed to an influencer who is clearly being paid by his millions of followers. Once the brand trust and communication is clear and the relationships are build using virtual influencers to grow sales and reduce costs is a no brainer.

Testing and optimising the virtual or traditional Influencer campaigns to create strong ROI for clients is a necessity.

Data analysis to establish the Virtual Influencers true reach and influence on key audiences is crucial, as is community management testing and growth…

Monitoring Virtual influencers activity in order to maximise campaign success and value.

In this podcast, we discussed this in more detail and anyone in management or marketing should take the time to digest the importance of these tools!

Agencies vs consultancies ‘battle’

Marketing Agencies vs management consultancies ‘battle’ is ongoing…which is best for the client?

B2B Virtual Influencers have been around for years, but there is still little sign of Virtual Influencer management agencies entering the marketplace. Does this mean Virtual Influencer management agencies are redundant or will Virtual Influencer management become a new battleground between Marketing and Management Consultancy firms?

Virtual influencers can help organisations looking to engage with clients, employees and suppliers in innovative ways while using fewer resources than traditional marketing campaigns. As always there is hype, there are specialist companies who are agencies or consultancies and as usual, they cross over into each others’ territories…with Virtual Influencers, it’s a combination of Virtual influencer management and Virtual Influencer marketing.

In more detail here is a short list of the topics we discussed: –

Virtual influencers and what they are?

1) Computer generated image character
2) Traditional customer service representative
3) Creator owned, back story and owned so the owner makes money
4) Brand owned characters, owned for the purpose of having an emotional relationship with the consumer.

Dudley is a veteran in influencer marketing and virtual influencers (VI) will be a huge growth area.

Audience intelligence is the key growth area of data science and Dudley also uses a bigger suite of tools called data kinetics,
they use this to be able to delve into the b2c brands.

Figuring out the consumer is key and their connectivity, their likes and dislikes are focused on with VIs.
Targeting specific people with research and then creating a character to appeal to these specific groups.

Having a deep emotional relationship with the consumer is how VIs work, you can inject into the narrative or the lifecycle
your story from your brand.

Using virtual influencers for B2B brands is a great opportunity. To get the attention of potential clients is a great idea.

For the consumer data side, the audience intelligence side of this used to work by surveys. But as machine learning and neural
networking great they have enabled less bias when analysing audience.

The biggest challenge is finding the right people to analyse the correct people. Finding 10 or 20K individuals to then enrich and
delve into is very rich and enables them to go much deeper into their research when anaylysing audiences.

Creating segmentation and understanding the psychology and emotional resonance of social media audiences gives us more info
around the behavioural changes around the covid 19 behaviour changes within the UK.

Sentiment analysis doesn’t give the detail that is necessary.

People began to look to their local shops for purchasing, consumers are now focusing on political tribes and not the local
tribes which was the key behaviour spike. But this disapeared in terms of the localised support which is unfortunate.

As things become easier to buy, consumers switch to them instead of buying the more complicated and harder products and
services to buy.

Where does the role of audience intelligence come in campaign plannign and execution.

1) Right at the beginning, starts with personas, guiding the research, then the content resonance and where the tribal map
of where the personas fit and link.

2) Helps to figure out creative, analysing physchology is crucial here, if the people are neurotic then the fear of missing out is targeted. If they are consciencious then

3) Campaign tracking along the way is performed and then analysed it provides insights and the campaign can be adjusted.

4) Buying mindset is also another important topic we discussed, do our friends like the product we are thinking of buying for example?
Showing an image of people liking and using the product.

5) Agencies VS consultancies, we at live and breathe have become more like Cap Gemini, starting at the beginning understanding the consumer.
We have moved more into the consultancy area and dig deeper, being more agile, with machine learning the playing field has been levelled so both are
Agencies are getting more involved with the outcomes that are required by management so ending up in the consultancy area.

6) Chatbots have been around for a while now and creating a personality for the VI it will become really interesting and whether they
are closed or open personalities is going to shape their communication style.

7) We talked around the psychology of conversation and people want to talk to people like them. This creates a bond and emotional connection.

8) We also talked around the cure of PTSD and the robot conversationalists that will be in our future within the healthcare space. Dudley shared the reason
he got into this area in the first place, people were scared as they thought they would be judged by humans.

9) All brands will have virtual influencers within the next 10 years and the need to reduce costs is driving this innovation. can find Dudley here or
@dnevillespencer on Instagram or Twitter.

You can also find him on LinkedIn here: –

The full transcriptions are below.


Tue, 8/25 11:28PM • 36:06


influencer, people, create, virtual, audience, conversations, consumer, interesting, character, call, brand, area, segmentation, person, personality, business, survey, tribes, augmented reality, respond


Dudley Nevill-Spencer, Nathaniel Schooler

Nathaniel Schooler  00:27

Well, today I am privileged to be joined by Dudley Nevill-Spencer and he is head of strategy at Live & Breathe and founder of Virtual Influencer Agency. So, we’re going to be talking about virtual influencers and their application in b2b as well which is, which is very, very interesting. So welcome Dudley. Thanks for thanks for joining me.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  00:49

Thank you for having me. Nice to be here.

Nathaniel Schooler  00:51


Dudley Nevill-Spencer  00:52

As in nice to be in a shed in my garden.

Nathaniel Schooler  00:56

Well, I’m in a very warm room myself as well. I know you had to turn off your air con. Right. And I had to shut the door. We will get there.

Nathaniel Schooler  01:06

It should be a very interesting conversation actually, because I’m really interested in virtual influencers. And I think before, you know, we kind of dig into that I think it’d be good for people to know what on earth a virtual influencer is.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  01:19

Yeah, okay. Well, there are three kinds, effectively it’s a computer-generated image character. So, like a typical influencer, this is a character with a life and a backstory and a narrative, but it’s something which is made and designed.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  01:33

And now at the moment, they kind of cross over into these three different areas. You can have a traditional customer service representative at ANZ bank, for example, in Australia has seems to be a living breathing customer service representative called Jamie. But that kind of character is very single channel answers questions just helps you as a customer service rep.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  01:35

Then you have what we call creator owned. So something like little Michaela, who is a character with a backstory, owned by and developed by a creative for the purposes of them making money by that character becoming famous or that character releasing music or making clothing, etc., and doing brand deals. And then you have what we call brand owned, which is what we tend to focus on. And brand owed is when you have a character that is owned by the brand for the purposes of having an emotional relationship with the consumer. So, the consumer knows that it’s owned by the brand, but it has a narrative, backstory history. And of course, it’s made up much like a character in a film or on television.

Nathaniel Schooler  02:41

Okay, super, that’s really interesting. I’ve heard a lot about these virtual influences over the past few years. And I know you’re probably the first person to the market that I know of in the UK. You’ve been doing this for a long, long time, right?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  02:54

Yeah, too early. I started as usual, way too early five years ago, but I could kind of see where everything was going. I started in influencer marketing in 2007. And I saw where that was going, which, of course, is now absolutely huge. And I see exactly the same trajectory for VIs. Except faster, much, much faster. And that’s really because the utility of a VI in that you can figure out what the audience is and create a character specifically for that audience, that has a lot of utility behind it. And knowing how much brands love to be in control and want to create an emotional relationship now with consumers, that’s always what they wanted to do. And VI’s and the technology behind them now allows you to do that. So, I think it will take off very quickly.

Nathaniel Schooler  03:38

Yeah, I mean, I think we were talking a little bit beforehand, you know about the influences. The virtual influences that you guys are creating could actually, you know, be tailored to specific demographics, specific people who have certain likes and dislikes personality traits that they that they have and also that they want to because people love to talk to themselves. Right. And a lot of a lot of the time.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  04:03

Yeah. Yeah, for sure that we all have to do that. Well, this is where audience intelligence comes in. So, audience intelligence. I think in your last podcast, you talked about the Forrester report on audience intelligence as probably the key growth area of data science as it’s related to marketing.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  04:21

And audience intelligence is something which we’re very much focus on using the Audiense tool. As part of a bigger suite, we have a bigger suite of tools called Data Kinetics, and Data Kinetics, which Audiense actually sits right at the center of.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  04:35

We use that to figure out that the audience for virtual influencer markets, and we also use it for all of our traditional strategy. So, for a Live & Breathe for all of our traditional clients, whether their food, alcohol, traditional retail, packaged consumer goods, and you know, these are some of the world’s biggest companies.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  04:54

We use audience intelligence to figure out the consumer and to segment the consumer. In a way, which is related to how they’re interconnected, as well as behavioral, as well as understanding what content they like, what language they respond to, what psychology they have.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  05:10

Now, all of that, that we take to segment audiences for our traditional clients, fmcg clients, etc. We also use that in exactly the same way for creating a virtual influence. So, if a brand says to us. “We want to appeal to Gen X.” or whatever it is.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  05:27

We will go and scrape 100,000, 200,000 conversations of that specific person, then from that extract that use audience intelligence and audience and are other tools to figure out the psychographics, what content they’re responding to, etc., and then create a character that we know will appeal to that very specific audience. So, it’s interesting that you’ve got the technology in the middle and it can be applied in these two very, very different ways. Traditional consumer marketing or creating a virtual influencer.

Nathaniel Schooler  05:55

That’s very, very interesting. Purely because you know, we work with a number of influencers. And it’s interesting how they actually create their own audience. So just because of their personality type, they create their own and the topics, obviously, that they’re talking about. And I find it very, very interesting that you can actually, in essence, manufacture one of these being a brand or an agency. Right? And yeah, I find that I find that fascinating, actually. Yeah, really.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  06:24

It’s another level, isn’t it? Yeah. And if you think about consumer brands, the goal or business, business to business brands, the goal is the same. It’s to have an emotional relationship with your consumer. If you’re a business, that might be somebody buying your enterprise services or technology, but you want a relationship and emotional relationship with them.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  06:44

If your consumer-packaged goods or fmcg. Again, you want an emotional, emotional relationship. Now, previously, the only way to really do that was by either hiring an influencer or hiring a celebrity, but you know that that’s being rented out or you hire someone who is in business to business marketing is highly regarded in the industry. But all those people are separate from your brand. They’re not they’re not owned by your brand. So what the VIs do is enable the brand to say actually, we’re going to create something that you’re going to love to have a relationship with, you know, we own but it shows that we understand you and you then and it also allows you to inject into the narrative and the lifecycle of that virtual influencer or your service or your product to make the integration and the story much richer of how your product or service comes to life.

Nathaniel Schooler  07:36

I find it very, very interesting really, it’s a completely different perspective on the whole influencer marketing kind of business. Yeah. I think it’s probably actually a new category in itself. You know, influencer marketing is one thing, but virtual influencers and their application is another right, especially on b2b. So, what do you think about using this in b2b I mean, is it like a chatbot sort of thing? I mean, how would you use it?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  08:06

Yeah. So, for b2b, it’s fascinating. I think whoever uses this in b2b is going to absolutely dominate. And it sounds weird, you know, if you’re a massive technology company, and you’re trying to sell into, you know, chief technical officers or whatever, or let’s say, you know, you’re a large energy company, and you’re trying to get in front of key investment officers who affect your share price.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  08:32

What does a virtual influence and have to do with that, well, we’ve got a great example of how effective they can be. There was a client which we wanted to work with, and we couldn’t get hold of them when trying to make a meeting for nine months. So, we have a virtual influencer, who is the head of our public relations, at virtual influencer agency. And for live and breathe agency. And so, this PR is called Jerome sent a video message to her on LinkedIn. And she responded that night.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  09:06

She got the message, and she went: – “Oh my goodness, is this real? Who are you? You’re, I know Live & Breathe, what’s going on?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  09:19

And this person, you know, we tried for nine months to get in contact with them. So, if you’re trying to do that for really difficult to get in front of people, then VIs work brilliantly. I mean, you think about it, you can, you know, you can send a video on your phone, you’ve got the phone number, you can send them a message on LinkedIn. You can do a video blog, for them.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  09:45

It gets their attention quickly.

Nathaniel Schooler  09:48

Very much so very much. So. Yeah, I like it. I like it. So, can we delve a little bit deeper into the consumer segmentation and the role of social data within that?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  10:00

Yeah, yep, for sure. And then I should also answer you talks about chat bots. And I should answer that because that’s another part.

Nathaniel Schooler  10:05

Okay. Cool.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  10:07

But for the for the consumer. For the consumer data side, the audience intelligence component of the consumer data is really about trying to enrich the segment or the consumer as much as possible. Now, traditional segmentation or persona work, tended to work by surveys, or some interviews and focus groups and you take that person and say:- “This is Bob, here’s a video of them. They live in Norwich, and they like to go to this pub, and this is their favorite now.”

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  10:41

That’s okay. But as machine learning and neural networking grew, it always appeared to me when we were doing survey work in the past, that you if you get a bunch of people in a focus group the alpha always dominates. So that Alpha person is the one who dominates the conversation and humans being tribal, we tend to go along with what they say.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  11:05

So, I always question whether you’re actually getting really good intel when you’re doing a focus group. When you’re doing surveys, particular kinds of people respond to surveys. So again, you’re getting very, very skewed information. So, what we tend to do with data kinetics and Audiense is, we will take all kinds of behavioral sets. So, we might take a survey, we might take a focus group and use that as what we call ground truths.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  11:32

So use that as a way to direct the machine to find conversations, which we will then extract and then analyze, because of course, the trick with segmentation is finding enough people and getting enough of a big data set, and then going into those individuals, but you’ve got to find the right people. It depends on who you find. So, for us the survey, the search and the focus groups do nothing more than point us in the direction to find 10,000, 20, 50,000 individuals who we can then enrich, and then the segmentation of that. So, we know their particular consumer of a particular type of product. So then that segmentation, that’s real, and it’s beautiful. And that is very, very rich. And so that’s the way we like to do it now, so we don’t throw it out survey and focus and search. That’s just the beginning point. It’s not the end point at all.

Nathaniel Schooler  12:24

Got it? Got it. So yeah, I mean, I think we could if we, if we can, we can talk about the chatbots at the end, actually, because I’m not gonna I don’t think we’ll forget that. So, I mean, because I want to stay sort of focused on the consumer behaviors. I wanted to sort of understand a bit more about what differences you’ve kind of seen like pre COVID to you know, where we are now kind of thing on the behaviors of you sort of noticed any differences?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  12:55

Yeah, huge. We did you know, we did this study where we pulled a bunch of data on pre COVID in December, then again, right in the middle, right, the beginning of it in February. And then at the end of March, and what we were trying to do is group people into what we call tribes. So, we call our segments tribes. And the reason we call them tribes is because when people traditionally think of a normal segment or a persona segment, audience, what we try and do is combine everything.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  13:31

So, we’ll use Audiense to give us psychographics. What’s the behavior of this group, we use Audiense to provide us with interconnectedness? So, the more interconnected people are, the more they tend to belong to the same tribe. And then we’ll overlay interests will overlay socio economics as well pretty much overlay everything so that you can then get this really rich data set. And the reason we call them tribes, because we’ve got all these interoperable data sets laying on top of each other to create our segmentation.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  14:00

So that’s what we call tribes. Now, what we did with this COVID study was we tried to see how the behaviors and the psychology of individuals in the UK was changing. And from that, with the emotional resonance related to different conversation, so not sentiment to sentiments, positive, negative, or neutral, we use as emotional resonance, which is another AI tool, which gives you joy, sadness, happiness, disgust, or fear.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  14:27

Whereas in second year sentiment analysis, we also think doesn’t work very well, because the machine tends to stick everything it doesn’t know what to do with into neutral when it’s not neutral, so excusing. So, we found out what the emotional resonance was, of different subjects and conversations and then the machine clustered for us five different groups. And those five tribes were the ones which were changing behavior the most significantly across these different timeline data points. And so, we found fascinating things. I think one of the most interesting ones was an important They’re going to continue all these behaviors gonna continue one of the key ones, everybody knows that we all look to our local area and started to champion local businesses and everyone’s rah rah champion businesses. Now, what we’ve actually seen in the last two months is that’s collapsed. That behavior, which everyone’s talked about, hasn’t entrenched, it’s fractured completely. And instead, what’s happened in the last sort of six weeks is consumers are now focusing more on political tribes, country tribes. So, it’s almost like support for local when they really, really needed it was huge, but then it just dropped off a cliff. And that’s a really interesting one. Because what the machines actually done for us there, it’s picked the key behavior spike, which everybody talked about local, local, local, but then because it’s picked it we can analyze if it’s entrenched, grown or disappeared, and that one in particular disappeared.

Nathaniel Schooler  15:54

That’s very interesting. Quite a sad, really, I mean, I think it probably is an inconsistency in how they’ve had customer relationships. Here’s how I would analyze that from where I’m sitting in terms of, you know, you don’t need to wear a mask or they don’t wear a mask or they don’t have the right, the right distancing. There’ll be many reasons, but I think for me, I think it’s probably inconsistency and lack of funds as well. I mean, they probably just went out of business so many of these local companies as well, you know,

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  16:22

I think it’s that thing also is utility isn’t it? utility always wins if something becomes easier. So as home delivery services improved, then you just start to use what’s the easiest and the simplest and you can’t get over how much utility always seems to win out? Yeah.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  16:42

I think it’s one of the key reasons.

Nathaniel Schooler  16:44

Yeah, I was thinking about that yesterday because I bought a coconut right. And you know, when you buy these coconuts, yeah, and you want to drink coconut water, yeah, but like it’s a nightmare. You got a crack it open and then work. But this coconut was brilliant. It had everything. It had it had like, some sort of bamboo stick that you stuck in one of the holes in the top and it had a straw. And actually, what they’ve done is they’ve cut all the way around the outside. So, you could just smash it and it would open really easily. So, it’s exactly what Amazon have done. And it’s exactly what all of these big companies have managed to do. They provide a consistent experience, which is easy. I mean, that’s why they’re in business, right? At the end of the day, but yeah. Yeah, it’s crazy. Yeah. But, um, so Well, that’s, that’s, that’s very interesting. So. So where does where does the role of audience intelligence? Come in, in campaign planning and execution? And I mean, you sort of talked a bit around that, but

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  17:45

Well, it’s, it’s two, it’s two areas. It’s right at the beginning. So, what tends to happen with our big clients is they’ll give us their personas. And they’ll say, Okay, this is who we’re trying to reach out to and so what we will then do is we will use that as a guide.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  17:59

To go out there and bring in a whole bunch of people that are similar to that persona. And then we use audience intelligence to enrich those personas, and figure out what their behaviors and their psychology, that content resonance, figure out what it is they really like and then also figure out their interconnectedness. So, create a tribal map of where these personas fit in and link.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  18:22

And then from that, we can make an informed decision about the type of creative and campaigns and also channels that we should focus on. So it helps allocate resources in terms of channel and then it helps figure out creative in terms of the tone you use, you know, if someone’s neurotic, then you tend to appeal to them missing out. If someone’s conscientious you tend to appeal to the fact that what the what this product or service is going to do is going to benefit those around them.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  18:46

So just those insights on psychology are so incredibly helpful for their creatives when it comes up to creating a proposition, and developing you know, an ad and above the line advert or content for social media or choosing the influencers to work with.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  19:04

So that’s right at the beginning, we tend to do it, and then we track it. So then once the campaign is running, we’ll then track it and see how things are responding and see if we need to do more audience intelligence to analyze, if the way they’re thinking and feeling is changing, and therefore the campaign needs to be changed. So, we like to do it every three or four months.

Nathaniel Schooler  19:22

Got it? Got it. Very interesting. It’s very interesting when you start delving into you know, the kind of magazines they like, and the personality traits they have and you know, if advertising has an effect on certain types of people, and you know, it’s fascinating, really,

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  19:39

That’s an interesting one also, buying mindset, which is a fantastic a fantastic tool, you know, just before you make that final purchase decision, what is it really motivates you?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  19:51

Do you check to see if your friends like it, or do you check to see if it’s a cool brand that other people are following? Or is it an ad which helped you decide.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  20:01

Where did your buying mindset click in? Because again, we’re tribal animals and we will only do something if we think that it’s part of our tribe. So what’s that signal which you need and then of course you can create your advertising and marketing to push that signal so if you’re only gonna buy something, if you’re buying mindset is based around your friends and families than the creative shows your friends and family enjoying it.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  20:21

Or if you buy mindset is brand related, so you only buy things if they’re well known then you say in the ad well my brand is like this you know, well-known brand, so you just find all those triggers and then you just zone in on them.

Nathaniel Schooler  20:38

Yeah, it’s very, it’s very interesting, really, it I mean, you can geek right out on all this stuff. You can go so deep caught you and you know, as far as like changing the headlines and all sorts of different things, I find it fascinating really is it’s very, very interesting. So yeah, what about agencies versus consultancies?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  21:03

Yeah, I mean, I, I almost feel like we particularly at Live & Breathe, we have become more like. We’ve almost become more like a, you know, more like a Capgemini. In that we’re starting right at the beginning in terms of trying to understand the consumer and understand what the triggers and barriers are.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  21:24

So, you know, whereas consultancies tend to be, you know, very business focused and how does the business need to change? And, of course, then from that they’re moving into traditional agency area of, okay, well, here are the channels you should use in the type of perhaps creative proposition, they’re very much moving into the area, what we seem to be doing is moving into their area more.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  21:46

Where we’re trying to figure out where the consumer is and how they are changing and how they are moving and how their motivations are changing. I’ve always done that in agency world. But with the new tools that we have, in particular, the audience intelligence, we can do that in a really, really deep way.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  22:01

In half the stuff I read on McKinsey, particularly recently over COVID, I was thinking, yep, I gave that to my clients two months ago. I don’t mean that to sound, you know, over the top, but it is true, because effectively machine learning has leveled the playing field. If you know how to use those tools properly, then you can get the information and analysis much faster than ever before. And you don’t need a huge network of a consultancy, to go out there and do all those surveys. We, you know, we can get it in a week and put it together in 10 days. Yeah, I think we’re both crossing over into each other’s areas.

Nathaniel Schooler  22:38

Right. So, you’re getting more involved with the sorts of outcomes.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  22:43

Yeah, the business, how the consumer is changing and therefore how the business needs to change to leverage off of that.

Nathaniel Schooler  22:54

So, do you want to talk about chatbots?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  22:57

Yes, yes. Okay. Sure.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  22:59

So, you talked before about virtual influences, and how do they work in terms of communicating. So, the simplest way to do it, is you can just have a person responding. Yep, just responding as that virtual influencer. And they obviously have to do it in character, or you can have groups of people doing it.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  23:16

But as chatbots, and particularly natural language processing becomes more and more effective, what we are starting to do is create highly advanced Chatbots, which can carry on a majority of a conversation with a consumer. And of course, the advantage is they can do hundreds of conversations at once.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  23:36

Now, the issue is creating NLP or let’s just call it a Chatbot. It’s much more advanced than that now but creating it with a personality behind it.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  23:45

That was a great company, which we’ve been working with called elzware, to create personality-based NLP. And the way we’re making that work is by again extracting thousands and thousands of conversations of that particular personality type.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  24:00

And then using those, what they call sentence fragments and sentence structures to inform the machine. So, it knows how to speak within the personality that you’ve defined for your virtual influencer. Now, it’s not perfect.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  24:14

In September, we were going to be presenting with elzware, one of our characters, which we were going to have live on stage ad tech, and then have a marketing director kind of talk to them, but show them how we develop that personality and then demonstrate how that comes through in the language. But of course, that’s not happening now. So, we might end up doing it remotely. But that’s the real future. That’s and I reckon, probably another six months to nine months. It works at the moment, but it’s just hard to do another six months to nine months, it’ll just be it will get easier and easier and easier.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  24:48

And that’s beautiful. That’s a great, that’s a great growth area.

Nathaniel Schooler  24:52

Yeah, very much so I think I mean, I went to Wimbledon, IBM took me to the Wimbledon tour around the basement and at that point in time. You know, they had Watson and they and they were like: -“Well, look, you can call it you can talk to Watson. And you can ask what some questions.”

Nathaniel Schooler  25:07

And what I found very interesting is they had two different personas, they had the tennis geek expert, right, which was how to engage with Watson, as you know, me being a tennis geek, which I’m not, or the general public. And it was very interesting and how, you know, that just literally just pulled up on the screen the information that you needed to find, right. So basically, it’s just bridging that gap, isn’t it between the kind of just talking the chat, and actually having a virtual face and a personality and everything and, and then you can go and pick them much like you can with, with Siri, and you can pick a male voice or a female voice or whatever, right?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  25:46

Yeah, yeah. And you know, you hit the nail on the head then and you know, Watson has done a lot of work on this and what you experienced is effectively what’s available now.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  25:54

You can either create something which has deep knowledge on one particular area as a personality or something which just has kind of benile chat. That what we’re trying to do in the area of where it’s going to get incredibly exciting is where we can have that personality, you know, how many how is this person open or they’re not open? So, an open person is going to respond to you. If you say:- “Oh where did you get that dress?”  If they’re, you know, 80% open on like an ocean psychographic scale, they’re gonna say: – “Oh, well, I got it here. And, you know, it’s a really nice material.” If they’re closed, they’re gonna say: – “Oh, I don’t know, I just got it from a shop.”

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  26:33

Now getting that kind of personality to come through. That’s the Holy Grail. And that’s, that’s what we’re doing lots of work on. And that’s, that’s really exciting.

Nathaniel Schooler  26:41

So, when it comes to people, right, would most people like to talk to someone who is like them or would some people like to talk to people who are not like them. Like, how does that work? Have you thought about that? A lot or?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  26:56

Yeah, there’s loads of different psychological papers on that, like, in the end you want to see, it depends what you’re having a conversation for. Is it for entertainment? Or is it to make you feel good? You know what, what’s the reason that entertainment wise, of course, you will look at characters that are nothing like you and you will follow their life and look at their life for pure entertainment. However, when it comes to engagement, and yeah, you want someone like you, it’s all of these word clues, cues, and subtle subject, topics and inferences which make you feel that that person is like you that create a bond. So, the way you respond as the VI determines whether or not that person is going to form an emotional bond with you or not. So effectively, yeah, it’s those cues are extremely important and the language that you use.

Nathaniel Schooler  27:49

it’s a great subject. I’ve been doing a little studying around this over the years, and I was interested. There was a lot of work around the mental health you know, area with like curing like PTSD and stuff, and how they created like a robot chat person to discuss their problems and actually, those people who would not normally engage with a person would tell a chat bot anything, like you wouldn’t believe it. Yeah, it’s it. And I think we’ve got a very interesting future the next 5-10 years, even sooner are actually quite exciting if we can bridge this gap, you know, within the healthcare space. I think I think it’s, it’s gonna be very interesting.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  28:36

Really, what you what you talked about is is, is one of the first reasons I got involved in this, you know, it was DARPA, in the States, just basically the advanced defense Association in America and, yeah, well, they had a problem with the soldiers suffering PTSD and not opening up to the psychologists not telling them what the real problem was, that get back and back and back and they wouldn’t open up. Why wouldn’t they? Open up, because it’s a human who they’re worried is going to judge them. So, they don’t say, yeah, once they found out it was machine, they were happy because they knew they weren’t gonna be judged.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  29:10

So it enabled them to have a more emotional conversation with a machine than a human, which sounds so counterintuitive, but then when you understand, you know what you just said, but we are tribal animals, and we don’t want to feel like we’re not fitting in or be judged, then it suddenly makes a whole lot of sense. And that’s effectively what we want to take on to Instagram and YouTube is exactly that.

Nathaniel Schooler  29:30

Fantastic. And also, you know, in your, on your LinkedIn, you talk about augmented reality, virtual reality and, and these development areas, right, so yeah, I mean, I think from where I’m sitting, I think perhaps augmented reality is gonna be faster than virtual reality, but I don’t know right now. I think things are very difficult at the moment, aren’t they? So, it’s a tricky one to gauge that market.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  29:53

Well, you know, what’s really interesting, there is mixed reality that that again, probably a little bit too early for this as always mix realities overlaying. If you’ve got eyewear on, you can see the world around you. And there’s some great mixed reality eyewear out which look like normal glasses. Some of them are tethered, some of them are attached to your phone.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  30:15

Now Facebook and Apple are spending billions on this. And what they’re creating is, is eyewear where you walk around in the street and the virtual world is overlaid onto the real world. Now the future of that is, of course, you walking down a street and out pops the virtual influence of the bike store to tell you that there’s an offer and you want to come in and, you know, take advantage of it or some special meal deal or just, you know, that’s a very simple way of thinking about it.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  30:19

But that mixed reality world is a world which we think is just going to get bigger and bigger and bigger. And who are you going to engage with in that mixed reality with? Virtual influences.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  30:52

So, we see it in 10 years’ time every brand in the world will need to have a VI and that VI will be having conversations with consumers. Multiple consumers at once, one on one relationships and conversations. And that is, that’s where we think the real growth will get going. That’s when it really, really kick in. We’re away from that. But, you know, I don’t if you’ve seen Magic Leap for if you play with, En real glasses, Apple’s aren’t released yet, Facebook’s aren’t released yet, but they’re all doing them.

Nathaniel Schooler  31:21

I’ve seen I’ve seen these things. Yeah. And I’ve talked to a few people in that sort of new space. Right. And I think I think it’s very interesting. So, you know, provided we stay in touch with our, with our audiences, and we keep an eye on what’s going on. I think that area is got masses of potential because, you know, with the need to reduce costs as well. I think these things are absolutely necessary. I mean, if you think about like, for example, you know, going to the airport and doing your EasyJet flight, you have to print off your own boarding pass and then blah, blah, blah. So, you know, moving forwards, people are going to be replaced completely and displaced into other jobs. Yeah. And, you know, I’ve got I’ve got an interesting episode in the making around jobs. And I think that, that what you’ve just talked about really is actually the new wave of job creation. Actually, really?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  32:18

Yeah. I mean, yeah, if you look at advertisements for Python programmers, augmented reality creatives, I mean, they are through the roof, you can’t get, you know, they can charge thousands and thousands and thousands a week, and you can’t get them. And that’s because everybody’s going to need these characters, you know. So that’s a huge area. I mean, I had a family friend talk to us the other day about what to get his kid into, and I just said, just get them into Python now, right now manipulating datasets, or get them into some augmented reality. Software because we I don’t even feel like we’ve started down that path yet millions of people that are skilled in this area is going to affect every single industry.

Nathaniel Schooler  33:06

Yeah, I agree completely. I think it’s very interesting. This whole this whole notion of, you know, giving people what they want. The only way to do that is to listen to them, and then adjust, adjust accordingly and virtual influencers have the capability to do that, right?

Nathaniel Schooler  33:22

Because, yeah, in essence, what you’re doing is, so I’m going to create one right you’re basically listening to all the conversations you’re also listening to. And looking at the existing audiences of these brands, then you’re saying: – “Okay, so we need to build one in this area for this brand with this personality because we know that x amount of their audience are very vocal, and we know they will engage with that particular influencer.”

Nathaniel Schooler  33:52

And then you build 123 or maybe 20 different personalities based upon the personalities in the biggest sizes and the beginning going down to the nice one at the end, which you know, perhaps doesn’t really talk much. And then you allocate resources right to each one which is in essence, a person who goes in and adjusts the messages and the code and whatever, right.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  34:16

We have a brief right now where they said: -“Yeah, we think we need four or five.”

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  34:23

Like right okay, no problem. So that would be fascinating. If that came off, but it will but that is how it will work. And also, the machinery to create this is getting easier and simpler. You know, five years ago, we needed like a £13,000 pound film level CGI computer to make it happen. Now you can use a computer in the cloud with software that is practically free to create CGI characters.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  34:55

Yeah, and that’s why lots of kids getting into it used to be like 55-year-old computer programmers is an old film CGI designers and now it’s like 19/20 year olds in Berlin and Latvia.

Nathaniel Schooler  35:11

Right in well, that has been that has been a really interesting conversation Dudley and I can’t thank you enough. Absolutely brilliant. So, thank you. So how do people find you?

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  35:22

So, if you go to, or, either of those, and I’m at D Neville Spencer on Instagram and Twitter and also on LinkedIn.

Nathaniel Schooler  35:38

Super, super bright.

Dudley Nevill-Spencer  35:40

Thank you very much that he really enjoyed talking to you. That’s a lot of fun. And thanks for being so interested in all of it. I’m particularly in pushing the future, you know, bring it on.

Nathaniel Schooler  35:49

Yeah, definitely. Definitely.