Katie Martell, a marketing thought leader and former CMO, reported that she was pitched a deepfake video service that clones faces and voices so that sales reps can “create 1000s of personalized videos in the time it takes to make one.” Of course, the whole idea of these being personalized is ridiculous. Here is how they describe themselves (I have chosen not to publicize the vendor’s name):
“So basically it creates a clone of your face and voice (also known as a deepfake). Allowing you to create 1000s of personalized videos in the time it takes to make one. Which is amazing to see how far technology has come.
The idea is that video is the by far the most personal way of communicating digitally. Putting a face to the 100s of faceless emails we receive each day can be really powerful for improving engagement. As you can imagine this is huge for sales and marketing teams (and newsletters 😄).”
I don’t normally editorialize in my newsletter, but this is a terrible idea. For B2B companies and sales reps, authenticity and honesty are necessary for long-term success. We already know that sales engagement works best when there is a level of personalization matched with authenticity. Spamming the market with fake videos will quickly undermine your credibility. Reps have had success posting short videos with whiteboards that say “hello, <insert first name here>.” They are intended to have low production values but indicate that the rep has invested some time into a quick, personalized message. The point is that they are authentic. SalesLoft data has shown that emails with short videos receive significantly higher clickthrough rates.
One of the variables that investors look at is LTV/CAC. Deception will quickly reduce a firm’s Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), but once it is discovered, their Lifetime Value (LTV) will plummet, and their CAC will explode. It is the sales engagement equivalent of junk food. It will give your company a short-burst of energy but destroy your brand health.
The asynchronous video companies (e.g., Vidyard, Hippo Video, Videolicious) have had great success supporting sales. Their business models would be put at risk by such technology. Instead of videos being a harbinger of authenticity and indicators that the rep has invested time creating a short video, they would become emblems of deception. Likewise, Sales Engagement, MAP, and ABM Platform vendors should refuse to partner with any firms employing deepfakes as they have the potential to undermine ABM communications.
In the end, deepfake marketing will be recognized as SPAM and result in a rapidly dropping email deliverability score. It would be a pyrrhic victory.
Trust is critical for sales reps. Reps that deploy trickery will undermine their ability to sell long-term. They should avoid such deceptions like the plague. None of the deepfake vendor’s customers agreed to be named, an early indicator that trialers of deepfake technology are concerned about brand damage.
And more broadly, we are already having trouble agreeing on objective truth as social media provide custom feeds and recommendations that conform to our existing biases. There have always been problems with how photos and videos were cut or manipulated (e.g., slowing down the video to give a drunken appearance, darkening images of black public figures). Still, deepfakes create false narratives backed by realistic-looking videos that put words in people’s mouths. It is a new form of slander and factual distortion that will continue to undermine trust in the media, government, and social institutions.