Agencies and creators will need to provide clients with much greater transparency around pricing and measurement if influencer marketing is to truly come of age in 2022, experts tell The Drum, as we look ahead to the trends that will define the space in the months ahead.
Influencer marketing has been “lazy” to adopt outcome-based metrics, according to Ogilvy’s head of influence, and this year’s key challenge will be meeting the c-suite's demand for more accountability.
Rahul Titus says marketers now need to know that every pound spent on influencer marketing is driving ROI. “Clients are now spending in the millions of pounds and when that happens accountability comes into play,” he says.
“As an industry, we’ve been quite lazy if I’m being very honest. We haven’t measured outcome because we’ve never been asked before now."
Titus says over the next 12-months influencers and agencies are going to have to shift from engagement metrics into outcome-based metrics.
Co-founder of the influencer agency The Fifth, Oliver Lewis, says the industry needs to be more transparent in its measurement as well as its pricing and labelling to show it’s a mature business. “If you want to be taken seriously you need to open up your channels for measurement," he says. "We are way past the point where it is acceptable to send a screenshot of engagement data."
According to Lewis, the next 12-months represent a period of education for influencer marketers to figure out live shopping and enter the NFT and virtual spaces that “require a rapid learning curve”.
“The reality is we have very little expertise in our market outside of the platforms that they are originating whether that’s in crypto marketplaces for NFTs or TikTok for live shopping. So the key challenge is to keep up with the pace,” he says. Lewis believes it’s the job of the agencies and platforms to lead on educating the creators.
“There is going to be an arms race for creator attention to onboard creators into these worlds,” he adds.
TikTok has now surpassed Google as the most used platform on the planet, Pinterest is undergoing a rebirth and Twitch is pulling 8m monthly users. Titus says the diversification of platforms is fracturing digital strategies requiring brands to adopt an individual strategy for each platform. Titus predicts a lot of next year’s spend will go into learning and testing individual platform strategies.
Titus adds that with platform diversification team structures are set to get more complex in the next 12-18-months with more roles being needed to support an influencer marketing campaign. He predicts extra spend will be funnelled into new roles and teams.
Influencer marketing spend to increase
Lewis expects spend to grow rapidly in 2022 with some money from PR being reallocated into the space. He says brands will begin to centralize influencer spending which has traditionally come from a mix of budgets.
He also predicts that “expenditure will grow into longer-term ambassadorial programmes”.
Co-founder of the influencer platform Vamp, Aaron Brooks, says the diversification of platforms means “brands need to allow for additional spend to plug into these emerging spaces”. Brooks advises “having separate strategies for each platform and getting the benefit of budgets for each one”.
Brooks adds that brands are increasingly asking for campaigns to run across multiple territories which are typically more expensive.
What to expect in 2022
“The big significant growth area next year will be in B2B,” Titus says. “People assume B2B influence can be dry and boring and sits on LinkedIn but in reality, there is more money, big brands and niche audiences." Titus predicts it could grow to account for 40-50% of the influencer sector.
Pinterest will come into its own in 2022. Brooks explains the platform has good SEO and content has longevity, “the other platforms you have to be creating content every day to stay relevant”.
More companies will sign up for the professionalization of the industry with the launch of the Influencer Marketing Trade Body (IMTB) in the UK and other international groups like the American Influencer Council. Lewis says: “We need as much as the market to be onboard to unify around the ethics and codes.”
According to Brooks spend in automotive and financial services will expand in 2022. He adds that the car industry is leading the way in re-purposing content.