What do deepfakes mean for brands?

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When I started out as a journalist, content was a serious matter. No publication or brand wanted to be seen to be creating frivolous or meaningless content, and indeed to really gain plaudits you should be saying something lofty and informative.

Of course, there has always been content to entertain, but even then, entertainment had a higher purpose, be that to amuse, shock or provoke a reaction.

As brand marketers, we have spent years extolling that content is valuable, credible and important. Indeed, content is king.

So what should we do now that content is taking on the role of court jester? Content is getting silly. I'm looking at you here Trump memes and pop art filters. It seems that now we are all creators, and what we want to create is a little pointless.

This week TikTok and Snapchat both announced that they will be rolling out deepfake functions, which will allow us all to superimpose ourselves, or indeed anyone else, into AI-created content. The result, a hilarious mash-up of real-world and fantasy. Hours of mindless fun.

Going deep

Now don't get me wrong, I find these viral clips as hilarious as the next person, but what does it mean from a brand point of view? Will I be advising our clients to address their audience with the body of the Grinch and the face of Barack Obama?

And on a more serious note, does this not push all consumers to further doubt online content, and risk fake news becoming the only story in town.

I don't have the answers to these questions. But what is clear, is that as all online audiences are served with more and more content, heading off in all manner of unexpected tangents, the fight for their genuine attention becomes all the harder.

The old-school journalist in me tends to think that quality content will win out, and eventually we’ll all tire of the fun and actually just want the informative material we set out in search of.

But the human appetite for distraction says otherwise, and so I fear brands will have to embrace these new techniques in some way, to stay current and (ironically) to be taken seriously.

As agencies, it's on us to keep up.

Rowan Evans, director of content, Croud

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