The influencer marketing channel continues to strive as an avenue for advertising and marketing performance with 62% of marketers set to further grow their budget in 2018, according to findings from an Activate study in March.

In addition, over half (61%) of influencers said they enjoyed more sponsored partnership opportunities in 2017 than they had 12 months ago.

The study, however, found that influencers work with brands in different ways with 49% organically posting about brands before engaging in a paid sponsorship with them.

38% said they are provided with comprehensive brand guidelines to adhere to while 36.7% work on branded campaigns to raise awareness.

29.6% are often asked for an opinion by brands on content for campaigns whereas only 21.6% worked on branded campaigns if they lead to a sales conversion.

“Influencers are people, not ads,” said eMarketer’s principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson. “They know their audience really well, and not allowing them to bring that knowledge into a marketing partnership is a mistake.”

Transparency debate

While the study states that the majority of marketers are growing their influencer marketing budgets, there continues to be a debate around the transparency of the ecosystem with Unilever’s CMO Keith Weed calling for “urgent action” to clean up the influencer marketing ecosystem.

From a customer perspective, many want more clarity from brands and influencers when it comes to working on campaigns and promoting branded products.

Promotions agency Prizeology found in the UK that 88% of customers want to be made aware when an influencer is being paid to promote branded products online, while 57% want to further understand how they are being influenced by brands and influencers.