The hidden risks of influencer marketing

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Influencer marketing is a popular tactic for many of the world’s biggest brands. It’s no wonder really – research shows that 92% of consumers turn to people they know for referrals above any other source.

However, the recent Fyre Festival fiasco – in which models and artists misleadingly touted their anticipated attendance at the exclusive but ill-fated music festival – has served as a stark illustration of the limits of  this strategy.

In theory, it makes sense that brands would want to encourage a celebrity to share a seemingly organic post with their followers to reach highly-desirable demographics. In practice, this approach actually comes fraught with dangers.

Not only that, but there are more scientific, reliable, and measurable ways to reach those same audiences.

Brands and marketers already struggle with garnering accurate insights associated with digital advertising from the walled gardens of Facebook and Google, and influencer marketing is yet another technique that prevents marketers from really knowing how and if their ads are working.

When it comes to issues of transparency, it’s hard to beat programmatic advertising for mobile campaigns.

Is there enough reward to justify the risk?

One of the main draws of influencer marketing is that it doesn’t look like advertising at all.

Rather than sponsoring an Instagram ad, which users can clearly distinguish from organic posts, brands can pay influencers to share a picture of them using the product. Sure, this serves as not only a powerful endorsement, but also comes across as less intrusive to the user, when compared to sponsored posts.

many brand marketers struggle with quantifying the ROI of influencer marketing

The tradeoff is that while brands benefit from perceived authenticity, they lose control of both the message and the execution.

Influencers are humans, and they make mistakes, and these mistakes can make headlines, such as when Naomi Campbell copy and pasting instructions from the Adidas marketing team as the caption in an Instagram post, revealing the behind-the-scenes advertising tactics.

Perhaps even more concerning is that many brand marketers struggle with quantifying the ROI of influencer marketing. In fact, a recent survey reports almost 80 percent cite the ROI of influencer marketing as a top concern this year.

Yes, Kendall Jenner has 80.3 million followers on Instagram, but how many of them are in your target demographic, how many of them are you actually reaching?

With influencer marketing, it is very difficult to tell if your branded content is resonating with users or even if it’s reaching the right type of users.

Can data and analytics trump celebrity?

With unprecedented amounts of information available today, marketers today should leverage data to better deliver more relevant ads, especially on mobile, instead of settling for hard to measure techniques like influencer marketing.

Using mobile programmatic advertising, brand marketers can hone in on delivering the right message to the right person, wherever they may be on mobile.

Many ad buying platforms today also have tools for better targeting and audience expansion, like using personas and lookalike targeting.

Lookalike targeting uses past behaviors to develop an idea of what your ideal audience looks like, so marketers can then target other users with similar traits and preferences. This offers greater precision in audience expansion, as it is based off real behaviors, a great predictor of what actions a user might take in the future.

Similarly, mobile personas can help provide a clearer picture on how ads are performing, giving marketers the opportunity to optimize their ads to drive specific actions. Marketers can do this by partnering with ad-buying platforms, like DSPS, for programmatic ad buying.

Personas can help marketers reach audiences across programmatic mobile networks and can be used to create lookalike audiences, which tackles both targeting and audience expansion. By implementing techniques that rely more heavily on data, marketers can be more strategic with their targeting and have more clarity when trying to expand audiences.

Influencer marketing presents so many unknown variables and a general lack of control over a brand’s message, so brands can turn to more reliable techniques for advertising to their target audiences.

Providing both more accurate and clearer insights, ad buying programmatically continues to rise in popularity because it works. With more reliable and accurate tactics and strategies available for brands and marketers to reach their target audiences, especially on mobile, it seems as though influencer marketing may have seen the heyday of its success.


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