Influencer marketing evolves

The Drum
April 8, 2021
April 8, 2021

Influencers have emerged as some of the greatest content engines of the social media age. How can brands take advantage of their connection to audiences?

The influencer marketing business was worth $9.7bn in 2020 and is expected to grow to $15bn by 2022, with almost half of marketers saying they’re spending more than 20% of their budget on influencer content. Some have gone much further. Beauty brand Estée Lauder announced in August 2019 that it was allocating 75% of its marketing spend to social media influencers, and finding the investment “highly productive.”

Meanwhile, the grand shift from single-screen to multiple-screen (and multiple platform) access has transformed the way audiences consume entertainment. And as audiences have flocked to new platforms, they’ve embraced new creators as trusted voices in their lives, blurring the definition of stardom.

“The gap between social media influencer and traditional celebrity has narrowed,” says Megan Savitt, vice-president of strategy at BEN. “It’s no longer relevant to distinguish between digital and traditional marketing – just how to market in the best way to reach your audience.”

Montse Passolas, the chief marketing officer at premium hair styling brand GHD, says: “Influencers are one of the touchpoints in a campaign and as a consequence need to be planned and integrated to ensure maximization of the launch, and consistency of the message.”

Performance influencer marketing, in which the brand pays for conversions and sales, is one of the newest models made possible by predictive AI and is becoming one of the hottest new offerings available to marketers. “We’re able to offer metrics and analytics that are very granular and speak to specific brand needs,” Savitt says. “If you’re looking to get the best return on your investment, influencer marketing is really powerful because you can track it.”

“For us, it’s not intuition. It’s literally cold hard data. And then being able to evolve our partnership in order to take advantage of that data in order to scale,” says Rachel Hofstetter, chief marketing officer of Chatbooks.

Tyler Folkman, head of AI at BEN, says: “We can pick up on what kind of influencer voice is likely to convert the best, channel health, and can even analyze the unstructured images and text. Things you wouldn’t necessarily think about.” AI is also at the frontline of brand safety in influencer marketing, helping BEN to identify fake accounts or false engagement rates to enable advertisers to gauge whether an influencer partner is really going to be an asset.

“Having the ability to get both the flash and the power – working with A-List celebrities and influencers, but also knowing that what you’re working on is based on science, that you’re going to see this amount of return – is unprecedented, uncharted territory,” Savitt says.

She notes that influencers have changed the marketing dynamic in the fashion, beauty and fitness sectors. They’re now the primary source of innovative trends.

The decentralization of trend-setting from brands to influencer icons has been mirrored by audience behavior. As users consume content across platforms and devices, the savviest influencers have managed to port their audiences across the web, building personal brands impervious to the rise and fall of specific social networks. That so many have been able to remain successful amid platform agnosticism shows the depth of their connection to audiences.

The rise of product placement and influencer marketing, created in partnership with BEN, explores the latest developments and capabilities available to marketers through brand integration, with insights, tips, and case studies to inspire your next big campaign. Click here to download this critical intelligence today.

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