Three-quarters of advertisers (75%) claim to be engaging with influencer marketing according to a new study, with ‘brand awareness’ topping the priority list of marketing objectives.

Out of 158 marketers surveyed by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), brand awareness was the primary objective for engaging in influencer marketing among 86% of respondents. Meanwhile, despite concerns around disclosure and return, nearly half (43%) are planning to increase their spend on the medium in the next 12 months.

Other motives for using influencer marketing included content creation and distributions for nearly two-thirds (69%) of marketers. 56% said they use it to improve brand perception and 51% do so to drive purchases.

The study also reveals a shift in preference for the larger followings of macro influencers – often celebrity profiles with millions of followers (over 100,000) – to micro-influencers with smaller social followings (50 to 25,000), with brands focusing on authenticity and more targeted audiences in order to promote relatable products and services.

When it came to benchmarking the performance of campaigns, the majority of marketers (58%) in the study said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the performance of campaigns whereas 39% felt neutral about campaign performance. However, when it came to the overall effectiveness of the channel, 36% felt that influence marketing is “effective” while 19% said it was “ineffective”.

Transparency concerns

Influencer marketing’s reputation for transparency was brought into question recently with a study revealing that many consumers were unaware when an influencer was being paid by a brand to promote products or services.

According to the ANA, 38% of brands claimed to pay out as much as $100,000 annually, while 35% claimed compensation was non-monetary, providing a free product in exchange for their services.

Despite the prevalence of influencer marketing and its apparent growth, the ANA, as well as the Advertising Standards Authority, are due to review how consumer’s ability to identify when content is advertising on social media.