They are anonymous and influencers: who are Vtubers?

The world of influence on the Internet is a constantly evolving field that continues to innovate. For several years now, a phenomenon has emerged and is gaining more and more space on YouTube and Twitch, among others: Vtubers.

• What are Vtubers?

First, it is important to know that AI fans are not a new concept. For example, in 2017, Haruki was the first fully computerized singer (meaning that she only appears as a hologram and that all her music is generated by a computer) that had real international success. After this resounding success, content creators decided to embody these famous fictional avatars, becoming Vtubers on YouTube or Twitch.

This phenomenon first developed in Asia, facilitated, among other things, by the culture of anime in these countries. Then, this trend has become democratized worldwide. Today in France, for example, a TikTok influencer named “Arvi” with nearly 2 million followers is a major player in this world of V-influencers.

• Vtubers and brands, an obvious love story

Social media is a double-edged communication channel. Indeed, one can quickly become known on the internet but also undergo a bad buzz that can make an influencer disappear very quickly. These “bad buzzes” are often related to the creator’s private life and not the content they offer. However, “Vtubers” disappear as human beings, and it is therefore almost impossible to know their private life. This neutrality is of interest to brands, which can focus on the content of these digital creators.

The added value of this type of influencer is that it is very difficult or even impossible to create a bad buzz about them other than their content (which is more controllable by the brand than their private life). Brands also use these Vtubers to promote their content, such as Netflix, which has N-Ko, an AI V-tuber, as its ambassador for its anime section.

• V-influence, a real success or an illusory oasis?

Currently, on platforms like Twitch, some “V-tubers” are becoming very influential, surpassing even a million subscribers, such as Ironmouse. The advantage of the Twitch platform is that it is initially very focused on video games, although this is changing. This geek DNA allows V-influencers to establish themselves on the platform by offering content similar to “classic” streamers while bringing this fictional character aspect in perfect harmony with the platform’s majority community.

In August 2020, according to Courrier International, 7 out of the top 10 content creators on YouTube who received the most Super-Chat were V-tubers. This statistic shows that V-tubers have a community that is not only important but also extremely reactive and generous.

Despite this, V-tubers remain a relatively niche means of communication. This touches a very specific part of the internet community, albeit an important one, but with very specific demands. A Japanese company named Hololive has gathered nearly 50 V-tuber creators (some of whom have well over a million subscribers). It has become a real agency of influence, a real industry with nearly 50 million fans, all V-tubers combined. It is also observed that more “traditional” and important content creators like Pokimane (one of the largest American streamers) and Pewdipie (one of the world’s first YouTubers) are joining this phenomenon.

• The future of Vtubers, utopia or dystopia?

Vtubers are a current trend that will always have a core audience. It is therefore unlikely that this phenomenon will disappear or become stale. On the contrary, it is even more likely with the real development of the metaverse, among other things.

On the internet, everything is interconnected, and Vtubers have not missed the NFT trend. Kizuna AI, one of the most popular Vtubers in the world, launched her NFT collection, which was valued at nearly 0.3 etherums, or about $1,200 per unit at launch. It is a lucrative business that connects two major current trends.

Vtubers are becoming increasingly important in the world of influence and should not be overlooked or underestimated. These phenomena are intriguing and generate buzz on the web. Time will tell if Vtubers will become a formality in the world of influencers or not.

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"They are anonymous and influencers: who are Vtubers?"