It’s the End of Influencer Marketing as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

Opinion: Media and technology companies that use social data, insights and attribution will thrive

Companies that identify themselves as influencer marketing companies are headed for extinction
Christian Horz/iStock

There has been a misconception that influencer marketing is a type of company. Influencer marketing is really a tactic for distribution, and those so-called influencer marketing companies that you’ve heard about are really just talent representation companies or agencies.

This model is antiquated, and the companies that identify themselves as influencer marketing companies are headed for extinction. And to me, this is actually great news.

The companies that will survive and thrive in this space are media and technology companies that use social data, insights and online and offline attribution, showing provable return on investment.

Influencers essentially serve as a media delivery mechanism. Their ability to create aesthetic content and make consumers emote makes them valuable. The audiences they can reach act as a divining rod for an audience that’s most likely to respond. With social platforms’ ads managers, you can apply paid media to create lookalike audiences or microsegments that resonate with the messaging and ambassador.

There are over 2.5 billion daily active users on these social platforms. Take a second to think about how big that is. It is the equivalent of the World Cup audience, times seven, all day, every day. To glean information and parse that data, it requires technology companies to be the leaders in the space.

No longer is it a siloed company, but rather, it is a part of an integrated media strategy including TV, radio, digital endorsements and sponsorships.

A few years back, hundreds of influencer marketing companies emerged, and there was little to no barrier of entry. If you knew one influencer and one brand, you could technically call yourself an influencer marketing company.

Now, the campaign sizes are into the millions of dollars, and they are being awarded to technology and data companies that can identify audience insights and uncover affinities to better find a consumer.

These companies then find how a brand or advertising agency engages with an audience. This is usually done through the selection of the best possible influencers that are micro, macro or mega in size.

Even the content being created is now informed by social data and insights to align the audience with the influencer and the content.

The entire model of the advertising agencies and media is changing more and more. It is no longer the delivery of impressions or engagements that are the ultimate barometer of success, but instead, it is actual real-world sales, whether it’s tracking online-to-online conversions or online-to-offline in physical stores and retail locations, or even mapping back to TV tune-in.

You can now clearly see the changing-of-the guard in the influencer space in its biggest, most lumbering giants. The fall of the multichannel networks, the sales of companies like StyleHaul and AwesomenessTV are examples of this.

In the end, it’s not about the talent that you represent, but rather the delivery of a successful campaign, based on ROI, that matters to brands and advertising agencies.

Ryan Detert is founder and CEO of artificial-intelligence-powered influencer marketplace Influential.

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