5 Things You Need to Know About Digital Twins

And how industries are already using them

Digital Twins are about to overtake even the metaverse when it comes to the hottest marketing term to know. Unlike traditional CGI assets, Digital Twins present endless render possibilities for marketers to play with, making them an innovative and budget-friendly solution to be used across the seemingly endless new digital media platforms as well as traditional print and broadcast channels. What's more, Digital Twins will help the industry to further limit its environmental impact, and that's just the start. 

Below are the five key things to know about Digital Twins and their applications by industries to date.

A Digital Twin is...  

Technically, a 3-D photorealistic facsimile of a physical product; in simple terms, they're a 3-D version of a product that can be accessed on demand.

What can it be used for?  

A Digital Twin of a product can replace the physical product in the creation of most commerce and marketing collateral: Product Description Pages (PDPs) on marketplaces like Amazon, out-of-home spots like billboards, broadcast spots, in-store promotions.

A Digital Twin can also be used to replace or update a product in an image or commercial spot. For example, updating last year's car model in a broadcast spot with next year's new one. But where the Digital Twin provides real value to a company is when it can be used on platforms or applications where a photograph will not suffice, like an augmented reality (AR) training application for mechanics or a virtual try-on app. Most emerging platforms and applications require a 3-D asset versus a 2-D asset. 

Automotive, fashion, electronics and architectural industries are early adopters.

The automotive space is a mature user of Digital Twins. Using the CAD files that designers utilize in creating their vehicles, artists visualize every trim and package to create online car configurators. But even OEM's are just now realizing the additional applications that see the twin used like a customer's self-check for their car at the end of their lease, prior to bringing the car back to the dealership. 

CPG and beverage are now utilizing Digital Twins to create more marketing assets, more efficiently. Fashion has become an enthusiastic user of Digital Twins, accelerated by the pandemic's effect on shopping and marketing.  Brands like Balenciaga are pushing their creativity in ways only the digital realm can support. The brand designed four virtual outfits for Fortnite, making them accessible to the game's 400 million global users. This is just the start as brands prepare to dive into the metaverse.

Digital Twins are more advanced than traditional CGI.

It is easy to conflate the two, but the simple difference is the production itself. Traditional CGI is linear whereas Digital Twin production manages scale and asset creation, so it can be iterated on and rendered for different specifications that platforms require. For the automotive space, the vendor maintains a virtual garage of the OEM's Digital Twins of their vehicles. These vehicles are rendered for different formats and updated with new facia as required annually. Much of the craft and artistry is the same, but the use of the final asset requires different production and management.

Digital Twins present new opportunities for marketers.

Efficiencies are just one sizable advantage presented by Digital Twins. In reality, what this means is that the CMOs' budgets have not grown in proportion to the increasing number of platforms they must solve for. With Digital Twins, an agency could create an 8-second animation of a beverage can spinning into camera with refreshment flying off it once, and then update with the entire product line when and as needed. Or create marketing assets before the product is even manufactured. (This is an efficiency the automotive space has utilized for years.)   

Brands can also take advantage of zeitgeist in near real time, generating social media assets when cultural phenomena happen. In the next few years, as spatial environments take hold (I'm thinking specifically of the metaverse) and 5G becomes ubiquitous, we will see even more platforms and opportunities for brands, with Digital Twins serving as the foundational assets.

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