Influencer Marketing is a new term for a practice that has been part of marketing for a very long time. From celebrity and professional endorsements, through to sponsorship deals with sports stars and teams, not forgetting embedded marketing in the form of product placement in movies and TV shows. The premise was - and still is, to some degree - that people would associate your brand with a trusted authority, or an aspirational person or lifestyle. Instead of your marketing focusing almost exclusively on variations of “Buy our product”, your marketing now included getting customers interested in your product and brand through association, with an element of trust included.
The internet, and to a larger degree social media, has shifted the dynamics of influencer marketing from a practice where celebrities had all the power, to one where the familiar man-in-the-street shares some of the power. It’s not hard to imagine that influencer marketing - in both its traditional and modern form - grew out of a desire to amplify the trust inherent in word-of-mouth endorsements: a friend, family-member, or colleague suggesting you try a specific product based on their own experience with it. Word-of-mouth has always been one of the most natural forms of marketing, but its reach was often limited without the use of technology.
Influencer marketing relies on technology - and a combination of reach, relevance and resonance - to amplify word-of-mouth, either through
Paid endorsements do not always involve an actual monetary transaction. They can include a free product in exchange for a review, or free access to a high-profile event in exchange for access to an influencer’s personal audience. Both forms of influencer marketing have seen increased usage over the past six to seven years, but several shifts and changes in consumer behaviour, technology, and regulations over the last 24-months have positioned influencer marketing for phenomenal growth in the coming year.
Although ad-blocking software has been around for more than 7-years, it is only over last 3-years that it has become almost mainstream. Since 2014, the number of ad-blocking users in the US has jumped from under 40-million, to a little under 70-million. Globally, more than 300-million users are blocking ads on their mobile device, and these numbers will continue to climb.
The biggest impact of ad-blocking software is on publishers who rely on revenue from ads displayed on their website. But advertisers too will find it more difficult to reach the right people, at the right time. The only way for advertisers to negate the effects of ad-blockers is to increase their social media advertising, add native advertising to their marketing efforts, or make use of influencer marketing. And only influencer marketing is accessible to most industries, while offering great ROI.
A Hubspot survey in 2016 found that most internet users feel online ads have become more intrusive and annoying in the last 2-3 years. Which is why many of them resort to installing ad-blockers. When done right, influencer marketing isn't intrusive or annoying, and the format makes the content feel like an authentic endorsement. Even more so if the influencers you partner with are not traditional celebrities. While there is nothing wrong with using celebrity influencers, this does come at the expense of your marketing budget, and the feeling of genuine authenticity.
Although auditing an influencer's audience size is quite straightforward, there is never any guarantee on actual reach. But with the right planning, you extend your reach over many different devices, websites, social networks and apps. This can have a remarkable impact on your reach, and the ability to be seen by the right people, at the right time, and in the right place.