Generative AI “has an immediate business implication” for the creator economy, according to Becky Owen, the global chief marketing and innovation officer at influencer-marketing firm Billion Dollar Boy. Owen is leading the company’s investment in AI.
Billion Dollar Boy, founded in the UK in 2014, has worked with brands like L’Oréal, Amazon, Heineken, and Pepsi, among others, and the company said its 2022 revenue was £50 million (about $62.4 million).
Owen is at the helm of the company’s new innovation unit, Muse. The division is exploring the potential of new and emerging technologies for influencer marketing. It has a focus on generative AI, but is also experimenting with virtual and augmented reality, as well as virtual influencers.
Owen joined Billion Dollar Boy in early 2023 after almost five years at Meta, where she was most recently head of creator innovations and solutions for Europe. Throughout her years working in innovation, she witnessed several hype cycles surrounding new technologies.
“Brands have become very jaded around emerging technology because sometimes the hype masks the reality of what’s going on,” Owen told Insider, mentioning technologies like NFTs and the metaverse, which were met enthusiastically, but soon lost relevance to consumers.
Owen and his team expect AI to be different, because its impact on business is more immediate.
“We’re advising certain brands to add an innovation budget, a little amount of money that we work with them on,” Owen said. “We share the risk and we share the cost so it isn’t as aggressive for them to jump into it.”
Billion Dollar Boy
The division has been working with brands for six months doing “agile exploration,” Owen said, trying out different ways of incorporating AI in influencer-marketing campaigns.
Billion Dollar Boy has already tested pilot partnerships with three retail brands, including two luxury fashion brands that have launched their first generative-AI-led creator content on Instagram.
“What we really liked about this opportunity was the blank slate to work with our creators, be a little bit off the wall,” Owen said. “Really what you want to do is stretch the technology as far as it can go, and then come back and then see where you land.”
The company didn’t disclose the names of the brands it had worked with, but said the partnerships involved collaborations with several AI artists, like Elmo Mistiaen, JoAnn, Fashion Coupids, Shanikwa Dvorkin and Anastasia Rogozhina.
“We’re learning with them and seeing how it works with them,” Owen said.
The campaigns, so far, appear to have found success — the content made using generative AI saw twice the engagement, on average, than the usual content made without the technology, the company said. It also mentioned that in one campaign, which included 22 videos made without AI and three made with generative AI, the average play rate of the AI videos was 1.403% higher than the non-AI ones.