Embracing the age of influencers: How marketers can unlock mobile's creative potential

Embracing the age of influence

Despite the rapid flow of advertising dollars to digital, most particularly mobile, television will continue to hold on to brand awareness budgets and cache unless advertisers, agencies and media owners tackle some home truths. Could influence be the key to unlocking mobile’s creative potential and take up to $20 billion in digital brand advertising dollars?

Magna predicts that by 2021 global mobile ad spend will increase to $215 billion – or 72% of the total digital market. It is indicative of how consumers today are living – mobile now accounts for about 65% of total digital media consumption, with comScore suggesting that the average American adult spends a staggering two hours 51 minutes on their smartphone every day.

Yet such figures belie a fundamental truth advertisers face: simply, that most advertising on mobile is a terrible experience for the user, interrupting their targets on this most personal of devices and environments. Targeting and platforms may be solved but the ad format has not.

Little wonder that approximately two-thirds of marketers cite influencer marketing as a core strategy. Of those remaining, most have tried it and are actively looking to increase their spend, according to emarketer.

Influencer marketing company Whosay analysed performance over 300 campaigns and outlined the findings in its 2017 Influence Marketing Insights report. It found that influence marketing performs better than other forms of media and advertising, achieving three times better video view-through rates on Facebook.

In addition, the same research found that influence marketing can change the way people feel about your brand, leading to 70% positive sentiment scores. Furthermore, while audiences are more interested in watching video content on YouTube, positive sentiment scores are two times the average on Facebook versus YouTube.

But the question remains: is the industry doing enough to leverage the age of influence? It’s time to evolve the influencer marketing industry to one that is more professional, accountable and creative. Influence marketing, if you will.

Rather than paying a celebrity to post a photo and hope for the best, brands today must realise that everything is media – and according to Steve Ellis, chief executive officer of whosay, “influence is media and everything about influence should be measured like media.”

Unlike traditional media, influence marketing can break through a cluttered influencer marketplace by paying attention to six distinct phases: setting campaign objectives, targeting audiences, casting influencers, building the creative, distributing at scale – and measuring results.

It’s about more than the celebrity, tastemaker or the micro-influencer: reshaping the industry into a multibillion dollar one requires a revolution of influence reigning over influencers. People with the right profile come with a certain emotional and creative legacies, but forget the oft-lauded idea that creative can be handed over unsupervised – that way lies mere entertainment.

Marketers must start their campaign by prioritising their brand’s objectives, match the talent to the solution, and create quality creative content with sequencing messaging throughout.

According to Whosay’s findings, only the top 10% of talent in each segment are professional creators. In matching the right talent with premium creative and smart paid distribution, marketers can expect to see a 15% rise in campaign engagement rates.

But marketers should be mindful of using first party audience data when matching talent to the brand. The research found that performance is greatly impacted by how effectively talent connects with a brand’s audience, not just their own fanbase.

Currently, talent organic reach delivers only 2-10% of campaign objectives. By re-targeting an audience that has watched at least 25% of a video, brands have the power to boost campaign KPIs by 25% or more.

Influence marketing can also solve the problem of bad digital (and particularly mobile) experiences by creating in-feed ad formats featuring the right influencers in context of their audiences, backed by media-like performance and measurement.

An all-in-one model, from talent casting to the production, use of first-party fan data and distribution at scale, will perform on message, be brand safe and be 100% transparent.

Take the example of an insurance carrier that Whosay worked with recently. It partnered with three celebrities to encourage people to get their preventative care check-ups. An investment of $500,000 led to more than 35 million impressions, 11.6m engagements and 10.7m video views. That’s an engagement rate of some 33%, an eCPM of £13.97 and eCPE of £0.04.

Or the major beverage company that employed two celebrities to drive awareness and consideration amongst male millennial parents aged 25-34, which garnered an engagement rate of some 22%.

Few doubt that digital has grown so rapidly off the back of big data and better technology. Yet while targeting and platforms have evolved, the creative has not with brands being the victim.

Could giving influencer marketing the robustness it deserves herald the break-through marketers have been waiting for? “We think so”, says Ellis.

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Catherine Turner

All by Catherine