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The Ultimate Guide to Black Friday

With the rise of ecommerce and changing trends, you need a new Black Friday marketing strategy to succeed. Online shopping is bigger than ever, but with competition at an all-time high, how can you stand out against competitors?

It’s now the prime time to prepare for what should be your highest online traffic day of the year and with a stellar strategy in place, it’ll be an event to remember.

Our Black Friday guide is loaded with tips and techniques you can put into place right now. So, keep scrolling to read our expert recommendations.

Black Friday 2021: What Happened?

Someone with painted nails working on a laptop

In the last few years, the retail landscape has been turbulent amidst lockdowns, financial struggles and political problems around the globe.

So let’s have a look at last year’s stats and paint a picture of where we were 12 months ago. Black Friday saw a welcomed return to form in ecommerce:

  • Nearly 70% of all Black Friday sales happened via smartphones
  • Basket values were between 10% and 20% higher than those of 2020
  • Amazon was crowned the biggest winner, taking in 17.7% of all Black Friday sales.

There was also some notable success in demand, with some beauty brands seeing upwards of 31.5% increase in consumer interest. The main winners here were:

  • The Perfume Shop
  • Paula’s Choice
  • Driptyque
  • Avon
  • Lookfantastic

Black Friday 2022: What to Expect

The top and handles of a paper back

Fast forward a year, and the shopping landscape looks different yet again. Household expenditures have increased by more than 35% this past year, with significant raises in energy costs, fuel, food, and even entertainment. It seems that everyone has been affected in at least some way, as indicated by the stats:

According to Global Web Index, 53% of male and female skincare shoppers are most concerned about the prices of products and services, yet around 30% of them expect to spend the same as they did last Black Friday. For a yearly event that’s intrinsically linked to overindulgence; things aren’t looking good.

From how to prepare your website for the big event to drumming up awareness, these are our top Black Friday tips.

How to Prepare for Black Friday This Year

A tablet showing a weekly planner

We know, it’s a cliché, but when it comes to Black Friday the mantra ‘fail to prepare, then prepare to fail’ couldn’t be more true. There are a number of key activities to prioritise in the weeks running up to Black Friday.

Create a Black Friday Landing Page

Your audience want to hear about the offers you’re planning, and by giving them advanced notice you’re encouraging them to build a bit of buzz by sharing your Black Friday news. A well-optimised Black Friday landing page – ideally with some great backlinks – is exactly what you need to start ranking on Google, too.

To make sure your page performs as it should, make sure you:

  • Make it visible – with a position in the top nav, and maybe a homepage hero banner.
  • Plan outreach – get your offers in front of journos early, to help your page perform.
  • Get ready for increased traffic – can your site handle the pressure?

Finally, don’t delete the page when Black Friday has been and gone! It might seem logical to bin the landing page when it’s no longer relevant, but this means you’ll be starting from scratch next year.

Instead, remove it from your navigation and add an out of season message. Next year, you can repurpose the page with its valuable links and authority in place.

Prepare Your Shopping Feed

By drilling down on the specifics of your shopping feed early and carefully deciding your Black Friday advertising spend, you can avoid disapprovals, prevent unnecessary revenue losses and set achievable goals. So with that in mind, our PPC experts say:

  • Define your ROAS goals well in advance.
  • Understand your impression share.
  • Create a Black Friday sale shopping feed.
  • Test your feed early so its primed for the event.

Once your shopping feed is up and running, make sure to set up daily reports and alerts. As Black Friday sales typically span over a weekend, it’s worth keeping yourself informed. Especially if there are some must-have top-sellers which you suspect will be snapped up and run out of stock very quickly – you wouldn’t want to advertise a product which is no longer available.

Boost Awareness for Your Brand

To maximise your exposure, make sure to drum up awareness of your sale well before the event begins. You can achieve this in a number of ways, including:

Social Media

No Black Friday campaign is complete without killer social media content. Organic social is an effective tool to drive the hype about your brand, so think carefully (and creatively) about how you can show off your upcoming offers in a shareable way. This could include creating content like:

  • Short-form video
  • Live Q&As
  • Product tutorials

Social media is equally valuable from a paid perspective. In advance, make sure to trial paid campaigns on different social channels to find out which work best for your brand.  Once prepped, you can set up targeted ads, leading consumers to a specific landing page with further information and sponsored content.

Display Advertising

Show display ads to users whose web behaviour suggests they are in the market to buy your products and inform them of your upcoming deals and discounts.

What to Do During Black Friday

Two women in pink looking at their phones

Prepping effectively for Black Friday is essential, but even the best groundwork won’t let you relax on the big day. In fact, how you handle the Black Friday weekend will impact your overall results.

Be Sensitive

With financial woes rife throughout the globe, we expect there to be a significant drop off in unnecessary expenditures this year. Remember, not everybody is going to be in a position where they can splurge out and buy whatever they wish, so you may want to take a slightly less aggressive sales pitch this year.

Try encouraging something other than overindulgence perhaps. After all, Black Friday is a good chance to stock up on discounted essentials.

Communication is Key

Get ready for a hectic day with your internal team, agencies and partners all working closely together. Make sure you have fluid and open communication – you’ll need developers to respond quickly to any website issues, and regular updates on the sales performance from marketing teams throughout the day.

Take Advantage of Google’s Data

If you work with a digital agency who have Google Premier Partner status, you may have access to real time trend data that can help inform bidding strategies throughout the day.

Use Remarketing Lists Wisely

Black Friday is prime time to get back in front of potential customers and show them products they have shown interest in, but didn’t buy, at a newly discounted price.

You can create remarketing lists from the brand awareness campaigns we mentioned earlier – the consumers you reached may have been waiting for your sale to arrive, and just need a little reminder before making their purchase.

Smart Targeting

We have some tried and tested strategies when it comes to targeting consumers in your Black Friday campaign. Consider targeting:

  • Loyal customers
  • Cart abandoners
  • Product-specific remarketing
  • Complimentary products
  • RSLAs for broader terms with loyal, high-value customers

What to Do After Black Friday

Three people looking at a laptop

Making time to review and reflect on your Black Friday sale can put you a step ahead for next year.

Review your campaign thoroughly – what worked and what didn’t, what could have been done differently – and use this as a chance to learn from your experiences. When Black Friday 2023 arrives, you’ll be able to refine and build on your existing strategy. You may even be able to implement these learnings in your Boxing Day offerings!

The Black Friday period is also an excellent time to build up remarketing lists for use in the festive period. Plus, you can use your newly acquired data for Customer Match campaigns and for creating Similar Audience lists.

Final Thoughts

From planning through to analysis, these tips will guide you through Black Friday to results you can be proud of. We can’t wait to see the inspired, creative campaigns you come up with.

Want an experienced partner to give you access to the latest consumer trends and help make your Black Friday a success? If so, we can help. Contact us today – our beauty marketing experts could be the perfect extension to your team.


Synonymous Phrases: Do They Matter for Beauty SEO?

Sometimes, there just aren’t enough words. In copywriting, tautology (repetition) and paraphrasing go hand-in-hand as necessary skills to be refined. Writers will often have to push their vocabulary to the limits to weave in keywords while still making copy sound legible and interesting.

While doing this, a synonym here or there can be a godsend. But, as we know, keyword optimisation relies very heavily on specificity, leaving no room for grey areas or ‘near misses’.

Having said this, it’s worth considering how synonyms can affect keyword optimisation, especially in the beauty industry where multiple phrases exist for the same meaning, and similar products rank for the same queries.

Synonyms Vs Semantics

To set some context, let’s first establish some meanings and get us all on the same page.

A synonym is a word that means the same thing as another, whereas semantics refers to a linguistic practice that derives meaning from words and text. Sometimes, especially in the world of SEO, these two words are used interchangeably, but it’s important to understand that they are in fact vastly different.

So, for example, ‘do an audit’ and ‘do a review’ are synonyms, whereas semantics means these statements could be interpreted as ‘do an audit whenever suits best’ where the likely intent was ‘do an audit asap’.

Can Google Detect Synonyms?

Synonyms and SEO has been a longstanding debate, with Google first discussing the subject in 2010 on its official blog. Throughout this article, Google explains how its search engine is able to discern between similar phrases, with a few example searches listed with subsequent explanations.

The main point conveyed is that Google is clever enough to be able to determine abbreviations, alternative phrasings, and subtle differences by following the context of the query.

Today, Google best describes this work in its Ads Help centre:

“Close variants allow keywords to match to searches that are similar, but not identical, to the targeted keyword, and help you connect with people who are looking for your business – despite slight variations in the way they search – reducing the need to build out exhaustive keyword lists to reach these customers.


Although not specifically related to organic search, this gives us some level of insight as to how Google views synonyms and semantics. Think of the “Searches related to” section on SERPs – most of it is filled with semantics. See our example for ‘makeup for men’ below:

Work around synonyms was formally introduced in 2013 following Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update. In which, semantic searches sought to group similar content together.

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) VS Neural Matching

There are two main rulesets that are usually followed to optimise pages for keywords. The first of which being latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords.

LSI is a language processing algorithm developed to discover quantifiable similarities between words and topics. LSI keywords are therefore believed to be semantically relevant to other phrases, giving marketers a quick and easy way of determining what synonyms they should optimise for.

For example, if you have a landing page for sun cream that continually references “SPF”, LSI may determine that these two phrases are synonymous, matching them together.

However, Google has publicly disproved beliefs around it using LSI to group keywords. Google uses a series of complex machine learning algorithms to gauge the type of content that its users are responding well to (neural matching).

For example, pages with high bounce rates are less likely to be relevant to certain searches than those with lower ones. In which case, Google can identify the number of users that click one result to only go back and visit another one. Therefore, giving the second result a slight ranking boost due to statistical relevancy.

Should You Use Synonyms?

So, with Google showing a clear acknowledgement of the existence of synonyms, it’s obvious that we should optimise for them too, right? Sort of.

Much like any other form of keyword optimisation, synonyms should only be used when appropriate to assist with the flow of a sentence, or in accordance with search intent. In short: you should aim to try and tell Google as much information about why a page exists as possible.

Back in the day, a lot of websites resorted to stuffing as many keywords into a page as they could, as this was the primary way that Google served content to its users. Nowadays, however, keyword stuffing is easily detected, even when it is disguised through black hat SEO tactics.

Example: Retinol/Vitamin A

To get a better idea of how this works in practice, our favourite example to look at is for retinol and vitamin A.

Retinol is an over-the-counter formulation of vitamin A that is packaged into all sorts of beauty products like moisturisers and hand creams. It’s an ingredient, meaning its inclusion within products should be as clear as possible.

Without getting too far into the scientific side of things, it can be inferred that, in the beauty world, retinol and vitamin A are both phrases that refer to the same thing.

Things get a bit more interesting when we start to look at search intent and volume:

QueryIntentMonthly Search Volume
Vitamin aNavigational22,200
What is vitamin aInformational1,900
What is retinolInformational4,400
Vitamin a serumTransactional390
Retinol serumTransactional9,900
Data accurate as of July 2022

Retinol is the clear winner in almost every single category here, but does that mean we should leave vitamin A out of our keyword strategy? Probably not. Although we are unable to take a peek in to exactly how Google would identify these phrases, reviewing the top search results for them shows that the two are used with each other in almost every single top five result.

Therefore, optimising a page for just retinol would likely yield a less-than-ideal result from search rankings. The reason for this being that the additional information provided by mentions of vitamin A serves to give both Google and its users more detail, enriching their search experience and ultimately helping them find what they’re looking for.

Read more: Entity SEO – How to use entities to optimise your landing page

Our Verdict On Synonyms

It goes without saying, but ultimately, the best way to determine whether or not you should focus on synonyms in your copy is to conduct thorough keyword research. Only then will you be able to determine which pages should rank for certain keywords, as well as how to optimise them to do so.

As our SEO Team Leader Charlie Rudd says:

When optimising pages, we need to be aware of all possible search terms, what those searches show, and how many searches there are. This gives us a chance to paint a much wider picture as to what potential synonymous phrases are out there, as well as the ability to gauge how site copy should be focused.”

Charlie Rudd, SEO Team Leader

Need Help Optimising Your Beauty Website?

Keyword research and optimisation takes time and knowledge. Why not let the experts handle it? Foundation is a beauty-focused marketing agency that specialises in all forms of digital marketing.

From SEO for beauty brands to content marketing, we’ll give your website the attention it deserves.

Contact us today to see how we can help.


Beauty Brands in the Metaverse: How are they Involved?

Social media and the internet more widely have created a web of interaction that means everyone is connected almost all the time. But there’s always a way to make the connection between people stronger and closer, and brands will always see this as an opportunity to expand.

The next predicted expansion on this relationship is through the metaverse, in which a second ‘physical’ world defies geography to see us interact with one another as avatars using VR technology.

What Is the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a broad concept that currently umbrellas any kind of interaction via augmented reality. However, it’s expected that in the near future, this will begin to specifically be defined as a seemingly physical space, accessed through technology, similarly to how some video games are already accessed with VR headsets. In fact, in certain ways, this expansion has already started.

There is now, however, talk of one metaverse that will be THE metaverse; one platform on which consumers and brands collide to create an alternative, virtual reality that surpasses geography and tangibility. If this is to become the case, many are curious as to how this will affect individuals and industries in both the real world and the metaverse, as well as how they are already being impacted.

One such industry is beauty. At first, it may seem that beauty brands may not suit the metaverse because beauty consumers crave touch and physical connection. However, the creative freedom and flexibility of the metaverse has actually made it an ideal platform for some brands to thrive.

How is the Beauty Industry Being Affected?

The Action So Far

The increased migration into the metaverse for the beauty industry has so far had a huge impact on inclusivity, particularly in terms of previous geographical limitations.

Many brands, for example, are releasing virtual product try-ons, such as for matching foundation shades to skin tones, minimising the physical involvement and hygiene risks of shared in-store products, and instead allowing customers to privately see what an array of products look like on their faces from the comfort of their own home. This technique has proven incredibly popular with shoppers. In fact, a recent study from Global Web Index found that 66% of beauty shoppers would like to try this technology in the future.

Brands like Gucci and Nars have taken this even further through the fashion app Drest, which lets people digitally try on and save products through their avatars. This is a step closer to what the metaverse could entail than pre-established AR, instead using digital avatars as an extension of the real self. The metaverse could, in this sense, become a whole new form of self-expression, with beauty lovers investing in virtual products that will help their avatars look like their dream versions of themselves.

A Shift in Georgaphy

The increase in gaming for women plus the rise of influencers and social media means that more people who enjoy makeup think of themselves as creators and artists, and generally want a more active involvement in their makeup experience. Experimentation and creativity are such huge parts of the beauty world, and the increasing opportunities for virtual interaction only make this easier.

But the opportunities of a metaverse don’t stop at direct product interaction; rather, companies like Obsess are already developing virtual storefronts for brands like Dermalogica and Charlotte Tilbury that encourage exploration with hidden details and easter eggs for special offers and exclusive products. The interaction with these metaverse beauty brands helps customers build up a sense of digital loyalty with them by trying products as a fun game, until eventually they visit a physical store or place an order following a positive experience.

The expansion of both places and people into the virtual space is already increasing opportunities for beauty brands and consumers alike, and this will only grow with the development of the metaverse as more features come to light.

What Does This Mean for the Future?

As the metaverse becomes a more tangible reality, the beauty world’s involvement in it and the desire for virtual products will likely only grow, as the opportunity for self-expression through branded avatars has already begun.

Avatars and Icons

Virtual reality platforms – one of the most prominent of which is Decentraland – are becoming increasingly common. Metaverses like Decentraland use blockchain technology to let users actually own their digital belongings. The creation of this format comes with new incentives for companies and brands to get involved, providing a new platform in which brands can expand their sales and customer bases.

Brands as big as Nike, Ralph Lauren and Adidas already offer lines of clothing for Bitmojis, an avatar that can be used in the form of stickers on social media like Snapchat, directly from your keyboard, or even now as a software development kit to be used in video games. By offering up their fashion to our virtual versions of ourselves, we become loyal to the image of these brands and are more likely to invest in their products for our real selves.

As the ‘physical’ space of the metaverse develops, we may see people developing virtual extensions of themselves both in the form of their avatar and their virtual homes.  With this comes the possibility for people to live as their ideal versions of themselves, owning an expensive wardrobe that may not be achievable in real life, or wearing dramatic makeup looks by designers that they may not have the personal skills to achieve. Alternatively, they may want to show off products in the metaverse that they’ve worked hard to own and collect in real life, increasing user interaction with these products.

Increased User Interaction

While this could be huge for self-expression, we should also be wary of what this could mean in terms of body dysmorphia or personal identity in the real world. Of course, there are also brands that have already thought of this. As well as the growing connection between virtual brands and the virtual self, many are also using meta technology to create an increasingly immediate relationship between the physical versions of brand and consumer.

Events like the Le Défilé L’Oréal Paris, a live beauty and fashion show, are trying to make events more accessible by incorporating the metaverse and utilising virtual spaces. This event, for example, is filmed entirely by drones and live streamed on social media while also being open to the public to attend in real life. Not only this, but those watching the stream are able to buy products modelled on the catwalk in real time from the event’s app.

Buying these products while watching the fashion show creates a more interactive experience for remote viewers, allowing them to feel more involved in the event despite their distance from it. This geographical inclusivity is a win-win situation for both brands and consumers, providing better access to events for those who want to be involved, and creating a larger platform on which brands can promote and sell their products and skills.

How Can New Brands Keep Up?

The main way in which smaller, newer brands can keep up with virtual relationships and the rapidly approaching metaverse is through customer engagement. With so many brands fighting for their attention, customers seek brand loyalty, and you’re more likely to get their allegiance by creating an engaging experience for them. From trialling products to the final purchase and gamification along the way, creating a shopping experience where every step is part of the experience is going to keep your customer engaged.

Live streaming platforms such as Twitch, or more elaborate versions like the aforementioned Le Défilé, allow influencers or small brands who rely on self-promotion to create an experience for their viewers that feels more one-to-one. As the metaverse develops, this will likely evolve into ‘physical’ virtual spaces in which people can experience a live stream, meaning more user engagement and a stronger creator-client relationship.

Will Beauty in the Metaverse Succeed?

It’s clear that there’s plenty of potential for fashion and beauty brands in an impending metaverse, but there is valid concern around what this means for the up-and-coming brands. It’s difficult enough to make a name for yourself in the real world, so to expand into a metaverse simultaneously could be a lot to take on.

It may well be a case of big brands venturing into the metaverse first, and other brands following suit once they’ve created a big enough name. Think of it as establishing a name in one country first, and then developing it overseas.

Will the metaverse succeed? As with anything, only time will tell the true success of the beauty industry, or any industry for that matter, in the metaverse as it becomes more prevalent.

For further thoughts on the future of AR and VR in the beauty industry and beauty market insights, have a look at our latest whitepaper: The Future Face of Beauty: The Technology Transforming Us.


Deepfake Influencers: The Future of Fashion Advertising?

Should you trust everything you read online? It’s a debate as old as the internet itself. Nowadays, however, this has extended to visual content, the likes of which could prove unsettling.

We know that artificial intelligence is a growing phenomenon with new tools coming out seemingly every day. Some of it is genuinely useful, and some of it, can seem a bit dystopian.  One such technology that has quickly gained traction in recent years is deepfake software.

Deepfakes are relatively far from headlines, often for negative reasons. Just last month, Unilever-owned Dove launched a film titled ‘Toxic Influence’ that centred around the negative impact that face-altering software can have on self-esteem. This is just one example, but the reality of deepfake videos goes much further than just face filters.

Here, we take a deep dive into deepfake content, analysing what it is and discussing its future in the world of beauty and fashion advertising.

What Is a Deepfake?

A deepfake is a piece of visual content that has been virtually modified in order to drastically change a person’s appearance to make them seem different, or look like someone else. Deepfake software is powered by deep learning, a computational practice based off artificial neural networks.

Deepfake videos are commonly shared on social media, often with malicious intent. Most recent examples of which have been shown across the encrypted messaging platform Telegram to spread propaganda around the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While more light-hearted examples include this TikTok personality impersonating Tom Cruise.


Not gonna lie… I love nerds 👨‍🎓@harvard

♬ origineel geluid –

How Do Deepfakes Work?

Screenshot of video editing software

As previously mentioned, deepfakes rely on the use of artificial intelligence; specifically, deep learning neural networks. These can be thought of as a complex game of trial and error, wherein the software attempts to solve problems or, in this instance, swap faces in and out of photos and videos to create realistic fake material.

Different neural networks can be used for different things. Mar/Io for example is a piece of software that attempts to complete a whole level of Super Mario Bros. 2 with zero human input. The software starts by entering a variety of button combinations, evaluating the changes observed. Once it makes progress towards the end of the level, the actions beforehand are remembered and repeated with slight adjustments for speed and optimisation. Although the goal behind this clever invention is different, the same rules apply to deepfakes.

Deepfakes can be created in a number of ways, but across all methods, three things are common: source material, injected material, and time. There are two main tools available today: autoencoders, and Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs).


Autoencoders are unsupervised, which means that they run off their own findings and data in order to create something new. The easiest way to explain an autoencoder is to think of content upscaling.

Upscaling happens when the source material for a video is of a lower resolution than the display that it is being fed through. For example, a 480p video in a 4:3 aspect ratio wouldn’t natively fill a 1080p display of 16:9 ratio. To which, the 4:3 video becomes stretched, introducing graphical imperfections through pixelation and colour shifting. Autoencoders go one step further than upscaling by analysing source material and breaking it down pixel by pixel, to then re-draw the images at a higher resolution while retaining as much detail as possible.

This same software can be trained to swap a different face in to a video with high levels of accuracy. Ideally, users would have source footage of the material that they wish to modify, and a pre-recorded piece of material that emulates the facial movements of the target, but this doesn’t have to be the case.

Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs)

GANs are a combination of two other deep learning practices that receive data from a user describing an ideal outcome of material. They work by having two pieces of footage fed to it: one real, one fake. After much repetition, the GAN begins to learn how to recreate the fake material while looking as real as possible, often at a much higher quality.

GANs are a sort of quality-control measure for deepfake material. When these two pieces of deepfakes are combined, the results can be quite staggering. The ideal scenario being that a video has already been deepfaked via an autoencoder, and then ran back through a GAN to check for any imperfections in the material.

The Rise of Deepfake Influencers

As previously mentioned, deepfake content is rife on social media. From humorous tongue-in-cheek videos to influential individuals, no one is safe.

Deepfake, virtual influencers have been on the rise for some time now; the likes of which have built followings big enough to rival actual people.

Lil Miquela

Lil Miquela is one of, if not the most popular virtual influencers created. Positioned as a 19-year-old beauty model, Lil Miquela was created by American-based professionals in AI and robotics, Brud.

As of 2022, Lil Miquela has built a following of around 2m fans on Instagram, making her one of the most popular beauty influencers on the platform. Miquela is also no stranger to brand partnerships, with frequent collaborations taking place between Samsung and Calvin Klein, promoting real-life products in the virtual world.


Bermuda fills somewhat of a controversial gap in the deepfake influencer market. Bermuda receives a lot of attention on social media, with a presence managed by the same PR company responsible for Frank Ocean.

We say controversial because Bermuda is known to haggle with her fellow virtual influencers, often trolling other notable digital celebrities. Bermuda was also once in a relationship with another digital influencer, which has since ended in a dramatic fashion.


Self-proclaimed as the ‘World’s First Digital Supermodel’, Shudu is an invention by British artist Cameron-James Wilson. Shudu first appeared on Instagram in 2018, garnering a following of thousands almost instantly.

At the beginning, fans were unable to determine if Shudu was in fact a real person. This prompted her creator to address accusations on a series of Instagram stories, wherein Wilson stated that Shudu was not a real person, despite there being many beautiful women out there just like her.

Nowadays, Shudu can be found sporting a variety of fashion accessories in branded posts on Instagram, the likes of which coming from Furla, Tod’s, and British GQ.

The Pros and Cons of Deepfakes

At this rate, this small cluster of deepfake influencers has built up a reputation that outweighs some of the most famous social media influencers of all time.

Like with all new technology, there are bound to be some positives and negatives as the future unfolds. A few of which we’ll discuss below:


If there’s one thing that’s frowned upon in advertising, it’s false information. Lying to your audience is never a good idea, but it’s something that deepfake influencers must walk a very thin line on. There’s a perception of reality among these celebrities, while the actual content itself is nothing more than ones and zeros.

Of course, there are deepfake celebrities out there that have never actually confirmed their lack of existence, while others are incredibly open about the subject. False advertising is heavily condemned by the ASA, with infringements carrying serious penalties.

To counteract this, deepfake influencers are faced with an ethical dilemma: to tell or not to tell?

Consumer Trust

A major hurdle that deepfake influencers must overcome is heavily dependent on their audience. Deepfakes alone are fraught with negative headlines, with a quick Google search returning thousands of articles slandering the practice.

Another complication arrives in the form of representation. Computer generated imagery is known for its mishandling of appearances, as these are largely informed by whoever is creating them. Video game characters with exaggerated, stereotypical features are among the worst offenders in this category, the likes of which share a lot of traits with deepfake influencers: dedicated fanbases, brand partnerships, and controversy.


By far the greatest benefit that brands have when working with deepfake influencers comes in the form of personalised advertising. Being able to fine-tune facial expressions, product inclusions and even scripting is a massively powerful tool, as doing so can allow for more hyper-relevant marketing messages to be delivered to target audiences.

Are Deepfake Influencers the Future?

Now comes time to answer this all-important question: are these modern-day mannequins the future of fashion advertising?

It’s clear there is a lot of potential to be unlocked by beauty brands with artificial intelligence, not the least of which resides within deepfake influencers. Besides some ethical concerns, there’s not a lot preventing deepfake influencers from becoming more mainstream – but don’t expect them to overtake the real thing either in number or in effectiveness any time soon.  

But who knows?

Humans are quite used to seeing fake portrayals of fashion products in shop windows on plastic models. The fact is, animation has been a tool used in advertising for quite some time. Maybe what we’re seeing now is just the next generation of it?

Phillip Woodward – Head of Creative, Liberty Marketing

For even more insights in to the future of artificial intelligence in the beauty industry, have a read through our latest white paper: The Future Face Of Beauty: The Technology Transforming Us.


Gaming and Glamour: The Beginning of an Industry

The interaction between gaming and beauty may not be one that many people saw coming, but in hindsight, all the signs were there. Historically there have been a lot of stereotypes around gamers, especially in how they look, behave, and live. Fast forward to today and the stereotype is dramatically evolving thanks to an ever-increasing popularity in video games; particularly since the pandemic.

With more and more demographics becoming avid gamers, more and more industries are trying to tap into this new potential audience for their marketing. From female characters in video games to brand collaborations, one such audience is women, and one such industry is beauty.

According to Statista the video game market value is worth 5.89bn in the UK, “In 2020, consumers in the United Kingdom spent over 2.4 billion British pounds on digital and online games. In regard to the annual contribution of the video games industry to the UK Gross Domestic Product, it amounted to 2.2 billion British pounds in 2019.”

The accessibility of gaming has only improved with both time and the growth of the industry, which is why we see a spiral effect between the two. Here, we explore the relationship between beauty and the rise of “gamer girls”, looking into what this means for the future of tech.

Global Web Index


The popularity of gaming is at an all-time high since the pandemic, with a number of devices and consoles proving to be fashionable. Whether this be a console (PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One), PC/Laptop or Smartphone, the number of people gaming day-to-day is on the rise.

A recent study from Global Web Index (GWI) found that internet users aged 16-64 were mostly playing on any console (82% in 2019), although smartphones were clearly dominating, being used by 70% of gamers.

Global Web Index
Global Web Index

Who’s Playing?

Statista’s report in 2021 found that since the pandemic, one audience was becoming more interested in gaming at a rate faster than any other: women.

The number of women playing video games almost doubled from 2019 to 2020/2021, the vast majority of these women being in the main age demographic for gaming (92% 16-24, 82% 25-35). This growingly successful intersection meant a whole new untapped demographic for brands to approach.


Changing Perceptions

The sudden surge in gaming activity over recent years has shed light on how accessible it really is. Playing games for fun, relaxation, or to pass the time are often attributed to a casual relationship with the activity, whereas any other reasons are seen as markers of a “true gamer”.

This includes things like playing competitively, socially, or to keep the mind sharp, the likes of which have now taken off among audiences not typically associated with gaming.

Though young and male gamers still lead the way when it comes to other gaming motivations, the gap between themselves and their counterparts is not as large as you might think – 6 in 10 older or female gamers say they play games for reasons beyond fun, relaxation or to kill time. 

It’s a promising sign that these growing gamer segments are likely to continue playing games down the line. More broadly, it’s confirmation that gaming has become the norm; cementing itself as more than “just a means of entertainment”.

Global Web Index

These shifts in behaviour are not without a change in attitudes, either. In the past, gaming might have conjured images of a male-dominated activity that was unwelcoming of newcomers. But as the activity has grown more popular, that hostility is subsiding.

Our gaming dataset confirms this; almost half of all gamers in 15 markets say that women should be encouraged to play games, while just 8% say gaming should be male-dominated.

This is something we can attribute to changing attitudes about gender equality in general, but it comes as a side effect of more high profile women showing their interest in gaming, too.

Global Web Index

With this shift in perception and typical demographic, we have seen an increase in brand collaborations with e-sports events, YouTube gamers and consoles themselves. More women are playing games than ever before, meaning the type of collaborations we’re seeing has shifted as well. Here, we take a look at the top gaming and beauty collaborations which have paved the way to these new opportunities.

Global Web Index
Global Web Index


GIRLGAMER x Charlotte Tilbury

GIRLGAMER ESPORTS FESTIVAL is the world’s leading event to celebrate and promote women’s competitiveness in Esports. In 2021, they partnered with Charlotte Tilbury to present an exclusive masterclass via Twitch, titled “Level Up Your Glam”. 

“Charlotte Tilbury’s exciting collaboration with GIRLGAMER brings well-deserved recognition to the female gaming communities’ continued growth, helping gamers integrate their unique style into their streams”, said Andreia Neto, Partnerships Manager of GIRLGAMER. The Puig-owned brand follows NYX, Soap & Glory, e.l.f. and Benefit Cosmetics in exploring the burgeoning video game industry in recent months.

These partnerships signify an effort to recognise and help the female community within gaming through Twitch beauty, and Charlotte Tilbury gets it right. This collaboration is a great way to combine beauty and gaming, providing the awareness needed to this increasingly large intersection. Bravo. 


Launching most recently in 2022, the OPI x XBOX collaboration features a collection of vibrant nail hues you can play with right at your fingertips. 12 new shades in Nail Lacquer, Infinite Shine, GelColor, and a select few in Powder Perfection offer a mix of shimmers and crèmes that will take your nails to the “next level”. 

While the colours themselves are appealing, this collaboration unfortunately lacks depth. It targets girl gamers but there doesn’t seem to be the same purpose of promotion or support for the community as other partnerships we’ve noticed. 

The individual colours aren’t named with much inspiration, and it does seem that the pastel tones are the kind of colours they would be releasing anyway heading into summer. The only bonus for gamers is that U.S. fans can unlock hue-matched, in-game content for Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite. 

This collaboration gives the impression that XBOX users have been brought in as an extra demographic, rather than a target, which can admittedly be a difficult line to tread.

Mac x Sims 4

Moving on to in-game collaborations, MAC launched a virtual makeup palette for use in The Sims, as well as a matching one for sim-lovers to use in real life in January 2021. 

“Finally, your Sims can wear M·A·C too! We’ve joined forces with The Sims to become the first-ever makeup brand available in the game. Head over to Create-A-Sim mode on Sims 4 and give your Sims a free MAC-over using some of these iconic products and shades. In-game glam designed by Director of Makeup Artistry, Romero Jennings.”

Despite being a very interesting collaboration and the first of its kind, it still received a large amount of backlash online.

Unfortunately, the backlash was justified. This idea held so much potential; when you think of The Sims you expect bold and bright colours, but what Mac delivered was nude and neutral. 

Yes, the neutral colours make it a palette for everyone, but collabs such as this aren’t always bought to be used. The selling point here was the gimmick, rather than being a day-to-day palette. Where were the options for Plumbob Green, or Bella Goth Red? With an audience as intimate as The Sims’ fanbase, there were plenty of opportunities for inside jokes in this product that simply weren’t used. 

This palette could have been far more experimental in its crossover, but instead, the only thing representing The Sims is the logo on the packaging. For collaborations like this, both sides of the demographic should be targeted in earnest, rather than what we see here: the beauty element far outweighing the gamers’ interest.

Colourpop x Animal Crossing New Horizons

In the very same month, Animal Crossing and Colourpop did exactly what The Sims and Mac did not. This collaboration saw the release of 11 products including eyeshadow palettes, lip sets, powder blushes and more. 

Each colour was clearly packaged with love and named after something relevant to the game; Colourpop leaned into the gaming gimmick in a way that made this collaboration much more appealing to its audience. Colours with names like ‘Water Landing’, ‘Island Tune’ and ‘WHO!’ make reference to much-loved elements of the game, and the packaging itself has a heavy focus on the Animal Crossing franchise.

The makeup itself was bright, colourful, and high quality, resulting in two restocks despite being a limited release. This collaboration focused on what’s currently popular in the beauty industry such as full lip kits and intense glitters, and tailored this to their crossover demographic with fans of Animal Crossing. This meant that the range proved equally popular between makeup fans and gamers alike; the perfect storm for a brand collaboration.

Givenchy x Animal Crossing New Horizons

Animal Crossing players were able to beautify their avatars with virtual Givenchy-inspired designs as part of this collaboration in July 2020. 

The ‘real-world’ products behind the idea included Le Rouge Lipstick and Prisme Libre Loose, but the main feature came in the form of a tattoo of the Givenchy logo that can be worn on the face of an Animal Crossing avatar.

This collaboration takes a different angle to those previously mentioned, as it is more focused on brand awareness than selling a partnership between the two. 

Animal crossing was huge during the pandemic and still remains so now; Givenchy have done a very nice job of showing awareness of that fact. Considering that the majority of New Horizons players are between 20-40, Givenchy have hit their key demographic by using this game as a vessel for their advertising.

Tatcha x Animal Crossing New Horizons

The Summer of 2020 had previously seen the launch of ‘Tatchaland’, a virtual island in the realm of Animal Crossing where players can relax and meditate in virtual spas, bamboo forests and more. Created with wellness brand Alo and Nook Street Market, Tatcha have married their brand perfectly with the relaxing atmosphere that so many people already seek within Animal Crossing.

With this island, Tatcha have really tapped into the “self care” element of gaming. It’s a much-needed oasis for escaping reality. They have combined Animal Crossing with skincare and created an in-game Tatchaland. 

Again, this is far more about brand awareness than it is a product push, and the combination of skincare with the self care relaxation of Animal Crossing work together perfectly in this context. There’s no pressure attached to this collaboration; players are simply invited to relax in a world that’s purpose-designed for exactly that.

The Take Away

All in all, some of these collaborations clearly work better than others. Things tend to go wrong when one influence of the demographic is prioritised over the other, such as in the MAC x The Sims palette or the OPI x XBOX collaboration. In the end, it all boils down to understanding and targeting the new demographic formed at the intersection of the two; it should be treated as an audience in its own right.

When done right, these types of collaborations between games and beauty brands can be a fun way to entice members of one audience into the other, as well as providing for and supporting those who already sit in the overlap. If well executed, this is a winning combination for everyone involved.

The Gamification of Advertising

The most effective way of advertising on streamed content is to make the viewer enjoy the experience. Rather than having 30 second unskippable ads or some starkly obvious product placement, gamifying the experience will naturally make content consumers want to become involved.


Cloak are a great example of how effective this can be. The creative directors of cloak are three very well known Gaming Youtubers and streamers (Markiplier, Jacksepticeye, and now Pokimane). Each of these three directors creates collaborations throughout the year, often based around a game that they favour. For example, the first collaboration that went viral for Cloak was Minecraft-themes merchandise, as both Markipler and Jacksepticeye were well known at the time for playing the game.

When a new release comes from the company, the streamers all begin to wear the products during their Youtube and Twitch content. The audience then spots this, and naturally begins a conversation on comments and subreddits speculating what the new merchandise theme will be, which in itself gamifies the marketing for their audiences. The CEO of Cloak claims that after they started their collaborations, sales for the company grew 750%, with sales increasing by a staggering 3900% between May 2019 and May 2020. 


Twitch as a platform also has other exciting integrations for merchandising like Streamlabs, one of the largest streaming software providers in the business, has recently come out with a store integration that can become a feature of streams. When used, the Merch store links directly to Twitch’s tipping feature (a feature that allows viewers to tip the streamer they are viewing) and allows viewers to purchase products directly from the stream. It then broadcasts an alert on the stream with the purchaser’s username so that the streamer can comment and “thank” the purchaser for buying the product. This plays on one of the largest strengths of Twitch’s tipping feature by gamifying the support of their favourite creators and building in direct interaction.

Using a tool such as this in conjunction with a creator collaboration could be a very powerful strategy for beauty streaming, as you could have the creator show the product live, and then have it purchasable directly through the stream. This would shorten the buyer journey dramatically as there would be no relying on links or promo codes which naturally lend to customers dropping off the buying journey as they go off platform. 

Gaming Influencers

Alongside brand collaborations, we have recently seen an increase in gaming influencers and sponsorship across various platforms, particularly when it comes to streaming.

Each platform has its pros and cons, both for creators’ audiences and collaborators. While in some a sense of transparency between creator and consumer can be prioritised, in others, advertising is less obvious, but this raises the potential to be more effective.


Twitch is a video game live streaming platform that has recently begun to explode in popularity, largely in part due to the pandemic. Due to the inability to edit footage, there is a “realness” to Twitch that other platforms, streaming or otherwise, can’t provide. As a live experience, Twitch’s unique selling point is the immediacy and realism of the moment presented.

The overall experience of Twitch is more collaborative between streamer and viewer due to functions such as its live chat, as well as the aforementioned realism. This in turn creates a stronger relationship, so things like product placement or collaborations with brands are likely to form over time, rather than as a one-off advertisement.

Although Twitch is currently a male-dominated platform, women are becoming more and more involved as the service grows. This all becomes particularly interesting when connected to the beauty industry, as it is one often associated with filters and editing. Twitch’s beauty and body art categories grew by 208% between 2019 and 2020, proving that there is a growing want for such content. 


YouTube gamers have been seen to have the most collaborations and partnerships, likely due to the ease at which content creators can embrace product placement and ads. 

For smaller brands looking for a quicker way to enter the beauty x gaming space, the prominence of ads on YouTube and the level of targeting available when creating them makes YouTube a good option to explore. 

Contrary to Twitch, YouTube allows a more content-focused, streamlined experience due to the ability to edit before uploading. In terms of sponsorship and collaborations, YouTube makes this easy; many gaming influencers will opt for a short ad-style clip at the beginning or end of a video to state their love of a product. This is a more distanced style of partnership than Twitch, as the ad can be kept relatively separate from the content creator’s own video.

TikTok & Instagram

Often acting hand-in-hand as a content promoter alongside another main platform, TikTok is usually used to post short clips of gameplay that will entice consumers to view a full video on the creator’s main platform.

Due to this short-form content, TikTok also works as a good platform for posting the ad-style clips previously noted in YouTube sponsorships. This works in a similar way to sponsorship posts on Instagram. 

These platforms are better for when a creator wants to keep their sponsorships entirely separate from their content, as opposed to the interaction that needs to be performed to an extent on YouTube, and in full on Twitch.

The Future of Gaming and Beauty

The increasing popularity of video games among women means a growing opportunity for brands to tap into this new market. Both the gaming and beauty industries have a lot to gain from this crossover, so we can surely expect more in the future. 

In industries as competitive as these, a partnership like this one can go a long way. Whilst the beauty world is helping gaming to become more mainstream among women, gaming platforms equally help beauty brands reach new audiences, allowing them to stand out against their many competitors. 

It’s a combination that makes sense, with both beauty and gaming being focused around creative, experimental mindsets. But this is where the focus needs to remain. 

It’s easy for collaborations to become too revenue focused, which can then become obvious to the consumer. Regardless of platform or content, the ads involved and collaboration itself must remain relatable and relevant to the chosen demographic above all else.

Want to Know More?

Have a look at our white paper for more stats and detail on the future of this intersection, where we discuss the use and effects of gamification, AR, and more.


Black Friday 2021: Who Won the Battle of the Beauty Brands?

Well, that’s it. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over for another year, and the countdown to Christmas has officially begun.

While the official expenditure figures are yet to be released, by all measures, it seems consumers were splashing the cash this November.

According to bank and card issuer data gathered by The Guardian, consumers were predicted to spend almost £9.2bn during Black Friday weekend. This is more than one-fifth greater than last year as the high street reopens following lockdown. However, experts didn’t expect sales to go far beyond 2019 levels due to supply issues.

Plus, Nationwide said its customers had made 5.95m purchases by 5pm, 26% up on last year and 24% up on 2019.

So, where were people spending their money and which beauty campaigns caught our eye? Find out below.

The Best Black Friday Marketing Campaigns in the Beauty Sector

Feel Unique: Getting in There Early

If a Black Friday sale starts the first week of November, can you really call it a ‘Black Friday’ sale? Well, with more and more brands opening their offers earlier than ever, Feel Unique decided to put a spin on the sale season with its Black Friday Preview.

The beauty giant offered up to 33% off certain items, the chance to win prizes and free gifts, as well as big discounts off major brand names. A simple yet effective way of drumming up excitement to the main event and to get customers returning to its site.

Plus, with the launch of Tiger King 2 on November 17th, the meme used on the brand’s social media couldn’t be more current.

Of course, the brand didn’t stop there. The beauty marketplace followed up with some creative social infographics which taught shoppers how to shop Black Friday the best. Top tips included setting Google Alerts, joining loyalty rewards schemes, and creating a wish list to be more efficient.

No7: Bundling Up This Winter

No7 is the UK’s number one skincare brand and, with its position in the middle to top of the industry price range, its products are a firm favourite Christmas gift. This year, No7 monopolised on this with the creation of its Black Friday Beauty Collection Bundle where purchasers were advertised £116 worth of products for just £35.

Not only was this a great idea for those starting their Christmas shopping early, but the promise of big savings and the sense of urgency that was created got many customers clambering for this limited-edition bundle before it sold out.

MAC Cosmetics: For a Limited Time Only

Talking of creating a sense of urgency, on November 26th MAC Cosmetics announced it was launching a 25% off flash sale for Black Friday which would end at midnight on 28th November ahead of Cyber Monday. Shoppers would also receive a free complimentary gift worth over £40 when they spent £55 or more on an order, including limited edition items.

Black Friday Sales Aren’t for Everyone Though

For some, Black Friday can be a huge money-maker and great for brand awareness; for others, this simply isn’t a marketing tactic which is profitable or aligns with their brands’ ethics.

Online fashion brands Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo received considerable criticism for offering clothes for almost free with offers up to 99% off some items. Many small stores also decided to boycott the day, running alternative or greener events.

Big names like Marks and Spencer and Next ignored the event altogether, whereas beauty brand The Ordinary took things one step further by pausing its website as well as in-store transactions. The goal being to encourage people to focus on human connections instead of shopping. All Deciem and The Ordinary stores were instead opened and invited consumers to attend in-store experiences such as live music, poetry readings, flower arranging, painting classes and more.

Which Were Your Faves?

What do you think were the best Black Friday campaigns of 2021? And which will you be taking inspiration from? We’d love to hear your pics. Tag us @FoundationAGNCY on Twitter or @foundationagncy on Insta, and if you’d like help with your content marketing ahead of Black Friday 2022, we’re here to help!

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