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It isn’t just deepfakes—here’s how AI will enable mass personalization in video and unlock high engagement and returns for retailers across verticals

Video is the format that receives the most engagement, often 10 times more than static content, and the power of using video assets to drive sales is well-proven. The issue is that premium video is really hard to generate, making it the privilege of brands with the luxury of big budgets and long lead times.

Capturing professional-quality video is a painful process, requiring a camera and talent to be present, synchronously, on location, with all the associated paraphernalia that comes with it: crew, hair and makeup, agents and so on. A single video can barely be produced at a $10,000 budget.

As such, when it comes to marketing tailored to many individual products, target audiences, or regional messages, all refreshed on a frequent basis, formats have been largely restricted to just an image and text. Where video is in play, customization is often solved for by a simple end card overlay. But what if these static assets could be made in live-action video instead, at the pace of ecommerce, and with the levels of personalization required to meet the expectations of today’s consumers?

Cue artificial intelligence, which is poised to revolutionize this space by enabling lifelike and undetectably generated video, captured and produced without the need for a camera. There are far-reaching ways that AI could be applied to stretch the capabilities in video. The most talked about is the potentially perilous potential of AI to create deepfakes There are, however, many other exciting uses being explored, such as AI-generated scenes that expedite branching in personalized interactive storytelling and video gameplay, or creating digital twins so that over-extended influencers or executives can suddenly be in two places at once—in video format, at least.

But there is also the opportunity for AI to enable video in contexts where it has previously been cost- or time-prohibitive—and for enterprise and retail brands, some practical and likely profitable opportunities are emerging. Some headway has already been made in automation to enable video personalization. For example, Idomoo’s “personalized video as a service” platform automatically updates video content, improving on the need for rudimentary end cards as a means to customize content for different segments.

Now, the tech startup Hour One stretches this much further, pioneering AI-generated live-action video featuring voice and photo-real characters. Enterprise customers can log on and create computer-generated video with a spokesperson or brand ambassador. Videos and characters can both be created from scratch using an on-platform character and repurposed from existing video assets. Check out a demo of what Hour One is enabling here.

Put another way, the tech allows businesses to convert almost any static catalogue of products, across a range of industry verticals, to boost engagement. Imagine delivering recipes in the form of a video tutorial, as a companion to the cooking experience; creating fresh excitement for vacation rental listings brought to life through a tour by an engaging spokesperson; or giving some personality to a car listing, highlighting key features. In each case, the video is individualized for each product or SKU, and produced at scale.

In this way, retailers can use technology to restore a personal touch to mass retail experiences, rather than letting tech to replace it. This type of video content actually enables retailers to deliver high-touch, personalized, memorable content that connects emotionally. It’s still early, but demand for premium video is continuing to explode, and with it the supply of ever-more sophisticated tools to enable production at the pace the market requires.

In the years to come, the retail industry can expect an influx of studio-quality video for every product on the market, widely distributed across digital platforms.

Hour One


Lead image: The Character is entirely synthesized using AI. Image provided by Hour One

Video is the format that receives the most engagement, often 10 times more than static content, and the power of using video assets to drive sales is well-proven. The issue is that premium video is really hard to generate, making it the privilege of brands with the luxury of big budgets and long lead times.

Capturing professional-quality video is a painful process, requiring a camera and talent to be present, synchronously, on location, with all the associated paraphernalia that comes with it: crew, hair and makeup, agents and so on. A single video can barely be produced at a $10,000 budget.

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