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TikTok’s Experimenting with New Video Avatar Tools, Audio-Only Live-Streams

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TikTok's Experimenting with New Video Avatar Tools, Audio-Only Live-Streams


TikTok’s testing a new avatar feature that will enable users to create a digital character avatar based on a selfie, with facial expressions that will match your actual look.

As you can see in this example, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, TikTok’s in-testing avatar feature would enable you to choose a face template, which you would then be able to edit in-app. You would then be able to further customize your avatar’s expressions based on your actual face, providing new ways to share emotion and response in the app.

The avatar process looks similar to Apple’s ‘Memoji’, which enables you to use your chosen Memoji character as essentially a digital puppet, with the capacity to make the character move in response to your actions when looking at the camera.

Apple Memoji

TikTok’s avatars look to follow a similar model, which would provide all-new ways to engage in the app, while they could also help TikTok lean into the coming metaverse shift, if it’s able to facilitate character depictions that align with how users want to represent themselves.

If TikTok can help you build characters that become part of your digital identity, maybe users will then want to take those characters to other platforms. And while the schema requirements for metaverse avatars are not established yet (nor, indeed, is the metaverse itself), maybe, by giving users more ways to build identity in its apps, TikTok will be able to better align with this trend.

In addition to video avatars, TikTok’s also working on a new group chats option, a new process for screen-sharing within live-streams and creator subscriptions, which could be coming soon, given Instagram just launched its next phase of creator subscription tools. The Information reported that TikTok is developing paid subscription tools last week.

TikTok’s also looking to provide more user safety options, with keyword filters, which would enable users to censor content that includes their own chosen terms in either the description or stickers applied in the clip.

TikTok keyword filters

TikTok also appears to be experimenting with audio-only live-streams, tapping into the Clubhouse-style audio chats that were all the rage a year ago.

TikTok audio streams

The audio social boom has died down since then, but there are indications that it remains popular, with Clubhouse downloads rebounding in the last two months. Maybe, TikTok could also glean user benefits from audio-only streams. And even if the popularity of the medium has lessened somewhat, there could still be value in TikTok providing more options for creators, which could help to increase user engagement.

None of these features are in live testing as yet. We’ve asked TikTok for more info on these tests, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back, but right now, they appear to be only in the early experimental phase, with the base code being the first indicator of each in the app.

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Maybe they make it, maybe they don’t, but it’s interesting to see where TikTok’s looking to develop, and the tools that it’s currently working on as an indicator of where it sees potential moving forward.

UPDATE: TikTok has provided the following statement on these new tests:

“We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience. Currently, we’re experimenting with ways to give creators tools to express themselves on TikTok.”





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Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays

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Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays

As we head into the holiday shopping push, Instagram has announced that it’s testing out some new ad options, in the hopes of maximizing its revenue intake, while also providing new opportunities for brands.

Though I can’t imagine that these will be entirely popular additions with users.

First off, Instagram’s adding new ads into Explore, with the first page of Explore now set to feature a new ad unit in the content feed.

As you can see in this example, that’s a pretty big ad. Instagram hasn’t clarified if all of these new Explore ads will be featured as prominently as this, but the option will provide another means to reach IG users ‘in the earliest stages of discovering new content they care about’.

It could be a good consideration, with a chance to get your products featured in the main discovery feed in the app.

Instagram’s also testing ads in profile feed – ‘which is the feed experience that people can scroll through after visiting another account’s profile and tapping on a post’.

So now, if you check out someone’s profile, and tap on a post, you’ll also be eligible to be served ads in that dedicated stream of their content, essentially inserting ads into another surface in the app.

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Instagram’s also looking into whether this option could also be used as a monetization opportunity for creators, as that activity will be tied back to an individual profile and content.

Instagram’s also testing what it’s calling ‘Multi-Advertiser Ads’, which will display more promotions from similar businesses to users after they’ve engaged with an ad.

Instagram ad updates

As per Instagram:

“When a person expresses commercial intent by engaging with an ad, we deliver more ads from other businesses that may be of interest, powered by machine learning.”

So Instagram’s looking to push even more related businesses at you, stacking ads upon ads. I don’t know how effective that will be, but in theory, it could get your brand in front of interested users based on previous ad engagement.

Finally, Instagram’s also launched an open beta of its AR Ads, which will be available in both feed and Stories in the app.

Instagram ads update

As you can see here, Instagram’s AR ads, built in its Spark AR platform, will invite users to interact with their ad content, which could also include positioning virtual furniture in their home, or test driving a car in the app.

Which Meta also says will help brands align with future engagement shifts:

“By giving businesses tools to create more personalized and immersive experiences today we’ll help them drive performance and prepare for the metaverse.”

I mean, AR and the metaverse, which is largely VR-based (going on the examples we’ve seen thus far) are not the same thing, but the creation of 3D objects will play a part in that next stage, and could help to advance your thinking on ad approaches.

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These are some interesting ad considerations, but they’ll also see a lot more promotions being squeezed into your Instagram feeds, which, as noted, likely won’t be welcomed by users.

But with parent company Meta under rising pressure, Instagram has to do its part. And while leaning into further Reels, and forcing in more ads, may not be a great play, long-term, the usage and engagement data will ultimately tell the tale.



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