Industry heads address impact of deepfake deceptions on digital, advertising industry

By Zion Rufus 

Marketers and advertisers have addressed industry concerns about the rise of deepfake and voice cloning technologies as the tools continue to pose significant threats to the credibility of online contents.

Although deepfakes have been around for quite a while, the technology has grown more sophisticated, and its impact on online content cannot be overstated.

Particularly in this age where social media has become the primary source of information for many, deepfakes are now armed with the potential to damage reputations, spread misinformation, and cause severe political damage.

These artificial intelligence tools are often used to create highly realistic pictures and deceptive videos that have the potential to spread misinformation, creating more chaos in an already fragile information ecosystem.

As the lines between truth and fiction become increasingly blurred, the onus has fallen on the marketing and advertising industry to take steps to protect their brands and clients’ reputations from these digital forgeries.

Advertising President Steve Babaeko believes that Journalism will be more adversely affected by the deepfake phenomenon than advertising.

Speaking exclusively with MARKETING EDGE, Babaeko who doubles as President of the International Advertising Association (IAA) Nigeria Chapter and the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN), disclosed that deepfake is one to keep an eye on as it may yet influence conceptualization and execution of ideas in advertising going forward.

“Never believe everything you see in the media is a mantra that the deep fake technology has hyper extended beyond what the industry can even begin to comprehend,” he said, noting that thankfully, the advertising industry in Nigeria has strong regulatory guardrails that make it unethical for people to use deception and subterfuge in selling a product or service.

Recently in New York, a student made a deepfake video of the school principal making racist threats.

Twitter was flooded last Wednesday with AI-generated deepfake photos of former US President Donald Trump resisting arrest and trying to run from police ahead of his potential New York indictment. Over the weekend, AI-generated photos of Pope Francis wearing a white puffer from the fashion brand Balenciaga fooled millions of viewers.

The face of popular actress actor Emma Watson was also used in a sexually explicit social media ad campaign promoting an app that allows users to create deepfakes

These AI tools have been used to facilitate imposter scams, extortions, financial frauds, and incite violence.

While weighing the pros and cons of AI-powered tools, Stanislaus Martins, President, Association of Digital Marketing Professionals (ADMARP) described deepfakes as an “evil implementation of AI-generated content”, as they have the potential to undermine trust in digital content, spread misinformation, and even manipulate public opinion.

Urging digital marketers to ensure that they do not inadvertently share or use deepfake content in their campaigns in a way that is misleading or harmful, Martins noted that it is crucial for marketers to verify the authenticity of any content that is being used in marketing campaigns “because just reviewing content at face value might just not be good enough”.

“Some global platforms are investing in and supporting the development of technologies that can detect this type of fake content and I expect Nigerian startups to also get involved locally as well. As digital marketers, we can collaborate with these organizations and help raise awareness about the importance of such tools in maintaining trust in the digital space,” he said, adding that education and awareness will be key to addressing the problem of deepfakes.

“Regulatory bodies also need to step up quickly and provide guidelines on how some of this content can and should be used,” Martins advised.

For content creators, navigating this era of distrust has become crucial to maintaining the integrity of online work and preserving the trust of audiences as deepfakes can also be used to create convincing but false footage of people saying or doing things they never did.

Helen Akue, a U.S based lifestyle brand promoter and marketing communications professional speaks on how generative AI has surpassed a tipping point.

“We are currently in an era of distorted reality. The rise of deep fake technology has undoubtedly raised concern for what reality, brand resonance,  privacy, and democracy hold in the future,” Akue stated, adding that industry leaders still need to discuss strategies for staying ahead of this emerging threat.

“On the plus side, using deepfakes for innovative marketing, such as a meme or creative viral video that generates buzz for a brand or product, could be a new advertising model. Still, there is a questionable and detrimental part to this. We have known many people to identify with brands and the persona(s) that represents the brands,” she continued.

According to the brands expert, using deepfakes to create characters that resonate with a certain audience without their full knowledge or understanding could impact a brand’s reputation and customer trust immensely.


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