Influencer marketing is the phrase on every marketer’s lips, and when they’re interested in something as heavily as they are in having celebrities, athletes and other figures promote their brand, so are we.
The practice has drawn praise and criticism in equal measure. On one hand, you have campaigns running on performance-based models, with influencers getting paid according to how many clicks and sales they drive from an assigned link. On the other, the stories of hilarity about brands throwing tens of thousands at a D-list celebrity for just a few plugs on Instagram, with no intention to measure what that actually does.
With the right approach it’s easy to see how influencer marketing can work. The route to success will be unveiled at PMI: London, where Fanbytes’ Timothy Armoo will be delivering a lesson on using popular figures for highly measurable results.
We caught up with Timothy to find out a bit more about the influencer proposition, and the place for specialist networks like his own.
Do you think there’s been some misconceptions around influencer marketing and how it can be used away from just brand advertising?
Timothy Armoo: People have viewed influencer marketing as a content-first play, putting the talent in front and the distribution behind. I think the key here is to see it solely as another distribution channel, rather than something which aids random terms such as brand visibility and advocacy, which is the reserve of content marketing agencies.
The type of metrics used should be cost per mille (CPM) and the resulting click-through rates (CTR). This can only be achieved via seeing it as a distribution play and stripping away the content element
Can you point to any examples of this in particular?
TA: We recently worked with a recognised teen girls brand who wanted to distribute their movie trailer to a wide audience.
Because they had been so used to buying influencer campaigns as a content play, they almost didn't believe us when we mentioned how much it will cost.
Typically, they are used to paying a separate fee for the distribution and then an added premium for content. A premium for content is an arbitrary number and because of that, brands are being shorted with overpriced fees.
We try to only focus on it being a distribution play. You want your ad in front of 500,000 people? Sure, here is the CPM, compare that to other CPMs and see the results. Done.
There’s been no shortage of controversial opinions surrounding influencer marketing of late. Some say budget has been thrown blindly at it with less than tangible results. Is that attitude validated in your view?
TA: Yep. It goes back to the point I was making about content being stripped away. People are just throwing budgets out just because they don't have a single clue how to measure results once the views are all done. It’s the classic case of any new medium; there will always be those "experts" who don't quite get it but are good at pretending they do.
With that in mind, how would you define influencer marketing’s emerging seat at the table of performance marketing?
TA: The main value that influencers provide is engagement; that's pretty much it, and applies to YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and more. So if we're tying it to performance, then what we need to measure is the cost per engagement (CPE), then CTRs, then the results whether they’re sales or downloads.
I think it will take a while for the snake oil salesmen to leave the industry and be priced out by common sense. Probably about 12 months, I reckon...
As influencer marketing matures, what kind of improvements are we seeing to measure its effectivity, allowing for greater accuracy when rewarding an influencer’s efforts?
TA: One thing we've been pretty good on is semantic data and we've built technology which is able to identify influencers all the way down to interests. The more targeted the campaign is, the more effective it will be.
The second is in automation. It used to be a seriously manual process mixed with an insane number of spreadsheets. However, platforms have now emerged, which makes engaging with influencers as simple as buying an ad on Facebook or Google.
And in regards to that ‘reward’, does it have to be a monetary incentive?
TA: I think if we're to see it as a distribution play, similar to Facebook or Google, then yes, monetary. You wouldn't gift Facebook your product to promote you, right?
Finally, are there any quick tips you’d give to advertisers who are thinking about initiating an influencer marketing campaign?
TA: Looks for the gaps. Many vendors out there pretty much do the same thing now; manually selling campaigns and overcharging as a consequence. Look for the vendors that are rapidly using technology to underpin their offering, those are the companies who provide much more targeted results.
Lastly, don't buy into the bull****. Content is good, but in this world content isn't that powerful. Distribution is.