Creator Avatars Coming to TikTok

A person holding a cellphone

Description automatically generatedThis Week: It’s VidCon week ICE peeps! I’m headed to Anaheim tomorrow, come up and say hi if you see me. And if you’re still around Saturday join me at a joint ICE and Changer meetup/drink 4pm Saturday at Nova Kitchen – right next to the Hyatt! RSVP here for more details.

Is that an Avatar in Your Pocket, Or…: That next TikTok ad could feature an AI-generated avatar of your favorite creator. Might be an uncomfortable Polar Express moment – or a great way for creators to make more money. I’m not optimistic – as synthetic AI generated creators could siphon money away from real people – but am coming to this with an open mind. Creators, if you try it out, let me know how it works. And don’t miss the @adrienne Lahens avatar – it’s both creepy and compelling. Blink Adrienne. Blink!

  • Related: AI dubbing is coming to TikTok – and I love the idea that any creator anywhere can reach an audience anywhere regardless of language. Alas, it doesn’t actually clone a creator’s voice, nor does it update the video with face-dubbing. Thus it’s not really that innovative. But it’s another part of a new “Symphony Assistant” suite from TikTok lets you do everything in one place – and that also helps you generate content ideas and more. Hopefully V2 will actually extend a creator rather than just replace them.

Spy Vs. Spy Round 2: YouTube seems to be testing server-side ad injection, which injects an ad directly into a video, rather than pausing the video and serving up an ad separately – much like how a host-read sponsorship is burned into a video before upload. It’s an interesting way to block ads but raises concerns too. This model essentially edits your video to burn an ad in, which could make it harder for copyright owners to detect when their content has been stolen. But if it means creators get more money, I’m all for it.

Close Friends Emerge as Next Battleground: The 12-year old in me wants to “Whee-Whee” all over Double T’s new Instagram clone, but the trend is clear. Social users are increasingly leaning into experiences and apps that let them connect with close friends and no one else. From Whatsapp groups and the new “Close Friends on Instagram Live”, to a Snap-surgence, small-group social is clearly the next big thing. @Dave Morin’s trailblazing Path app was sadly a decade too early.

YouTube Algorithm Under Fire: A new study of YouTube’s algorithm uncovers some eye-popping biases. The report from the UK-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue, found that young viewers are being served a “large numbers of videos featuring content unrelated to their interests”, and were “exposed to inappropriate and potentially harmful content… including videos related to self-harm and suicide.” Rather than being a safe space for kids, the shocking results show that YouTube “is not properly safeguarding its young users”. They also found that the algorithm consistently surfaces “content related to Christianity” – far beyond what would normally be expected. I used to consider YouTube a safer space for kids, unfortunately this research shows that it’s potentially just as bad as Instagram and TikTok. The ISD’s legit, but I’d still to see more studies confirming these results.

More on the Social Health Crisis: Interesting to see some of the reactions around the Surgeon General’s push for labeling social as toxic for kids. Geekout author @Matt Navarra – one of the smartest experts writing about social today – called it a problem “not properly understood”, dismissing it as one of many “poorly thought through ‘solutions’ to the young social media ‘problem’”. Government action restricting teen access, according to Navarra, “risks doing a lot more harm than good”. I 100% disagree, as anyone who spends time with teens – whether at events like VidCon, volunteering at schools or as a parent – can attest.

  • Related: “Not a problem” takes from The Daily Beast and The Atlantic ($). “Is a problem” take from @steve Rosenbaum at Sustainable Media.
  • Related: My friend and event partner in Asia, Jasper Donat, sent me this story about how Singapore is moving to restrict teen access to social after the US announcement. Their health minister called it “an emergency” and went on to say “we cannot afford to wait for the debate to be concluded. We need to act and put in place measures now.” Donat, who also produces a “Ted for Teens” style festival globally called It’s a Girl Thing, reiterated to me last week that as parents “we weren’t trained for the unnatural emotional and psychological pressures that social media delivers” and that “many teens he talks to either as parent or event producer are suffering from this mental health crisis”. It’s as addictive as nicotine and does to the developing brain what cigarettes do to the lungs.
  • Related: The FTC has recommended that the DOJ take legal action against TikTok and Bytedance, saying that their “investigation uncovered reason to believe named defendants are violating or are about to violate the law”. Get yer popcorn out!

SPONSOR: Whalar Comes to VidCon!

Heading to VidCon this week? Make sure to meet Whalar Talent creators who will be on the ground, sharing their journey. And don’t miss Whalar’s mainstage session with the NFL, YouTube, and creator Adam W, along with speakers on the “Creator Economy Measurement Deep Dive” on the Industry Track and “Monetize Your Talent with TikTok Creative Tools” on the Creator Track. It will be a packed week of insights, creators, and inspiration!








100% written by me – no human or AI ghostwriters were involved in the production (except for the cover art!).

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