Updated: Mar 24
By Babar Khan Javed, 3 June 2019
Problems with fake followers enabled by bots and other false readings aside, influencer marketing is on the rise as brands look to gain resonance.
For over a year, the marketing & advertising industry has been at the mercy of overwhelming evidence that vanity metrics such as followers, subscribers, fans, likes, reactions, shares, comments, impressions, and views can be faked for as little as a dollar. There are numerous videos on YouTube showing seemingly ordinary people fake their way into fashion shows and influencer status by manipulating market perceptions and praying on an impressionable young audience, with marketers falling for it.
Ad fraud researchers have even pointed out the reality that inflated digital numbers are directly correlated to the value attributed towards internet startups, with the market benchmarks accepting a single digit conversion rate as an achievement, leaving double-digit percentages of media spends in the hands of white-collar criminals operating click farms and intelligent bot services.
According to several interviews in this space, it is clear that the disconnect between sales and marketing is one of many driving forces creating a market that facilitates the desire for the lowest CPMs and the highest recorded number of eyeballs. To this effect, influencer marketing has emerged as a self-reported solution to the vanity metric fraud of programmatic advertising.
“Influencer marketing is fast-growing but challenging and laborious to manage and, yes, the rise of fake followers enabled by bots makes it even harder to tell if an influencer is a genuine and valuable creator,” said Dafydd Woodward, Global Lead INCA, told Branding In Asia. “As you say, it’s no longer enough to look at an influencer’s follower count, likes, or comments since these metrics are too easily faked.”
Branded partnerships are led by lifestyle and fashion – “The State Of Influencer Marketing 2019” by Klear.
According to Woodward, marketers in the FMCG, luxury, and lifestyle space have struggled to see value in the programmatic media landscape but have an in-built understanding of how great content distributed by trusted sources drive brand engagement and lift.
“For these brands, influencer marketing is something they instinctively get and are prepared to invest in, as long as they have validated and scalable solutions to help them manage it all,” he said, adding that the work INCA has done in the UK has resulted in ROI of up to 25 times the investment.
Woodward says that INCA measures brand lift and recall on ads retargeted to content. Given that integrated marketing communications may use influencer marketing along with a range of tactics, he understandably states that it is troubling to measure the individual effectiveness of INCA’s service in some cases.
“We’re also at the beginning of data-driven content marketing and as it turns more and more into a science, we will soon be able to replicate patterns for success and precisely measure ROI,” he said. “The INCA platform features an AI-powered tool that uses real-time data to source, curate, and match influencers to a brand and its campaign objectives.”
Woodward says that INCA has the ability to build a shortlist of potential influencers for any campaign based on important signals of genuine influence. The agency places the burden of quality on the influencer, making them sign a list of terms, which cover critical issues for brands such as fraud prevention, brand safety, IP rights ownership, and data privacy to name a few.
“Our algorithm examines more than 200 data points to help us build shortlists of potential influencers for a campaign and these lists can be filtered and sorted according to metrics such as fake versus real followers, engagement rate, and, perhaps most importantly, subject or demographic fit,” said Woodward.
“But technology, data, AI – while enormously powerful – can only take us so far. The real work begins when we reach out to influencers to understand how they can be partnered with to create engaging, valuable content that can drive the right outcomes for an advertiser. And, because of the outcomes-based model, the proof is always in the pudding.”
A Q1 2019 report from Socialbakers found that Instagram influencer-sponsored posts grew by 189% in Asia from 2018 to 2019. In April, the AnyMind Group acquired Moindy to exclusively access a vast network of influential artists and performers under a multi-channel network. In the same month, Redhill, the Gushcloud Marketing Group, and Hiip launched services or acquired networks in an effort to offer influencer marketing.
Reflecting on all these developments in the region and the existence of Like-Wise, Woodward asserts that no algorithm rivals INCA, believing that influencer marketing will soon be a leading digital channel. He backs this up by noting that clients in the FMCG, luxury, and lifestyle space are struggling to see the value in the programmatic media landscape while having an in-built understanding of how great content distributed by trusted sources drive brand engagement and lift.
“There isn’t any equivalent in the industry at the moment,” he said. “We enable brands to run AI-powered influencer marketing campaigns across and beyond social platforms to achieve measurable engagement for marketers.”
In the APAC region, INCA is led by Atique Kazi, APAC Lead, INCA, while Fera Rosihan-Robinson, is in charge of INCA in Singapore as the Head of Content and Production.
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