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WTF is influencer marketing?

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DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

Table of contents

What is influencer marketing?

08 Regulations


Early digital influencers


05 Spend


DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

The future

11 Glossary

Macro vs micro

What is influencer
Influencer marketing isnt new. Long before the industry

As always, the waters are murky. The complexity of

coined the term, consumers have looked to experts for

platforms and networks has spawned an industry devoted to

guidance or inspiration. Be they screen icons or style

connecting brands with the the talent they need to get the

bloggers, these notables gain the trust of their public, and in

word out. But who should brands hire? Where should they

doing so, exert some influence over their purchasing power.

engage? How should they measure success?

In this era of social media stars, the term influencer

Stop spinning. WTF is here to help.

encompasses a wide variety of socially savvy experts. Beauty,

business and tech influencers, among others, can reach
difficult demographics. For brands struggling to connect,
sometimes the only way to go is to tap into a network of
individuals who have the trust and the admiration of the
target consumers. Today, workout brands hoping to strike
gold with influencer marketing might call on fitspo vlogger
Cassey Ho, while makeup marketers approach Michelle Phan
for a branded tutorial YouTube video.

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

Early digital
Influencer marketing in its current digital form took hold in

regulations governing just what and how paid bloggers and

the early 2000s alongside the blogosphere. Enthusiasts

other influencers could endorse. Meanwhile, much of the

around a wide range of topicsfrom health and fitness to

influencer marketing sector would move to social media

automotive to techcaptured audiences with self-published

where celebrity and niche influencers were racking up

writing on the web, amassing a devoted following in the

audiences in the millions on platforms like Twitter, Instagram,

process. Brands didnt miss the opportunity to reach out,

YouTube and Vine.

offering these early influencers everything from cash to free

samples in exchange for a favorable post.
It was a valuable transaction in the early days of the web,
when many content creators operated as unpaid amateurs.
The following years would bring with them a host of

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

Social influencers can command massive fees, grabbing up

Ultimately it may come down to a shift in the type of influencers

a sizable chunk of the average digital marketing budget.

brands value. The same anonymous exec suggested that

A-list influencers like YouTuber Casey Neistat can bill as

brands have begun looking more closely at the quality of

much as $500,000 for a branded video. Prices for more

content creators work and audience, rather than just the size

niche influencers can vary widely, from a few hundred dollars

of their audience. Micro-influencers, with tightly honed but

for an Instagram product placement to tens of thousands

highly engaged audiences, look likely to benefit.

for a custom video. Prices are also based on the size of the
individual creators audience and the depth of their reach.
According to research conducted by Augure, more money
is set to flow into the influencer space. The study found that

Further Reading
Capitalizing on Digital Influencer in Retail - Deloitte
Performance pricing fails to catch on in influencer marketing

61 percent of advertisers plan to increase spending on

influencer campaigns in 2016.

We threw too much money at

them and did it too quickly.
Still, there are some lingering doubts about the value of
influencers. In an anonymous interview with Digiday a social
media executive suggested that influencer pricing has spiraled
without corresponding ROI to support it. We threw too
much money at them and did it too quickly. So in 2014, they
were making $500 to show up and take some photos. Then it
became $1,500. Now its hundreds of thousands of dollars.

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

TapInfluence helps brands get heard by tapping
into the power of digital influencers. Data-led and
tech-powered, TapInfluence boosts market share
and amplifies revenue growth by delivering scalable
reach, consumer trust, and unprecedented 11X ROI.
Working with TapInfluence gives
us the tools to find the right
influencers to advocate for our
brands. The platform allows
us to track actual, real-time
results, which means no more
estimates! And since the content
lives beyond the campaign we
continue to see engagement
and value grow over time.

Trusted by:

Lori Ulanoff


Macro vs micro
Engagement by audience

to 100,000 follower range, like rates are just 2.4 percent.

better known by his nom de internet, Pewdiepiereaches

For brands looking to forge a more authentic and engaged

an audience of over 42 million subscribers, a reach far

connection, tapping influencers with smaller but more active

larger than most digital publishers and many broadcasters.

followings might be a safer bet.


Social media influencers like Felix Kjelllbergthe video gamer





By comparison, The Big Bang Theorycurrently the most

watched TV show in the USclocks just 8.4 million viewers


on average. A single 3-5 minute branded video from



Kjellberg can double or even triple that number. That scale is

impressive, and commands substantial rewards, but recent



research suggests that bigger is not always better when it

Source: Markerly

A lot of our partners are finding

that they get better results by
partnering with a creator whose
audience might be smaller but
better aligned with their targets.

comes to influencers.

Take, for example, the case of LaCroix. Once a regional

midwest staple, the sparkling water brand recently expanded
to national distribution. Rather than buy into major TV markets
or even pay big name influencers, LaCroix has tapped
micro-influencers with organic social campaigns, encouraging
fans of the brand to share photos by engaging with those who
do via comments and shares. This sort of low-cost incentive

If youre a big brand, with lots of recognition, and you just

along with the brands Instagram-friendly packaging has made

want to rack up impressions, then you should be thinking

it a sensation on the platform and raised awareness in a key

Selena Gomez, or a Kardashian-Jenner. Celebrity endorsements

demographic with next to no spend.

can rack up social impressions, says Lisa Filipelli, vp of talent

at Big Frame. But a lot of our partners are finding that they
get better results by partnering with a creator whose audience
might be smaller but better aligned with their targets.
Her assertions are backed up by data. A recent study
conducted by Markerly found that influencer engagement
actually drops off as audiences grow. While an influencer

By rewarding influencers with smaller followings via attention

and engagement rather than with cash payments the brand
was able to harness a tidal wave of earned media attention at
comparatively low cost.
Further Reading
The Rise of the Micro Influencers

with just 1,000 Instagram followers has a like rate of roughly

eight percent, that rate drops to four percent for those
with between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. In the 10,000

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

Like any product endorsement, influencer campaigns are

Food giant Mondelez learned that lesson the hard way when

subject to FTC regulations and a host of disclosures. What

a video influencer campaign for Oreos was cited by the UKs

was once a wild west of paid bloggers and incentivized

Advertising Standards Authority, resulting in warnings for

influencerspaid in trips, samples, access and cashhas

participating vloggers and fines for the snack maker.

gradually morphed into a controlled environment in which

brands and content creators must both toe the line of
acceptable advertising standards.

The disclosures are a good thing

for creators. Theyre selling to an
audience that trusts them. If they
damage that trust they damage
their own business.
Regulatory agencies require that content creators prominently
disclose sponsorships or face fines. These regulations aim

Enforcement is still inconsistent, says Lisa Filipelli. Theres

not a lot of monitoring, so someone would have to report
a video or post as deceptive. I suspect a lot of smaller
campaigns fly under the radar, but its always best to be
honest. The disclosures are a good thing for creators. Theyre
selling to an audience that trusts them. If they damage that
trust they damage their own business.
Further Reading
FTC Sponsored Content Guidelines
Oreo Videos Banned for Deceptive Adverts
When Brands and Influencers Screw Up

to clarify an increasingly blurry line between advertising and

content. Creators who endorse products must disclose any
payments they receive or both brand and content creator may
face sanctions.
These regulations, meant to curb deceptive advertising
practices in the still relatively new influencer space, can easily
derail a campaign.

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

The future
Roughly 67 percent of marketers report that they are

(the sponsor of this guide), FameBit, Exposely and others are

good for them and which ones can hurt their brands. We

engaged in some form of influencer marketing, a number

aiming the change that.

want to connect brands with people, but we want to make

thats likely to grow as social media influencers gain

more mainstream exposure. With demand on the rise,
the influencer economy is shifting toward more streamlined
solutions, embracing tools like influencer networks,
match-making platforms services and even programmatic
to help brands tap influencers more easily.

We want to connect brands with

people, but we want to make sure
its the right people so that
everyone wins.

A recurring claim raised against influencers, one noted in
that same anonymous Digiday report, is that despite their
visibility, they can be hard to find. Brands are forced to rely
on the instincts of young social teamsone exec noted that
decisions often hinge on the opinion of C-suite executives

Rather than seeking out influencers individually, brands can

post potential sponsorships on an open influencer market.

Not to be outdone, the talent houses themselves have been

Content creators can bid on these sponsorships by submitting

getting into the game. Big name talent agencies like Creative

proposals or market their own services in a similar database,

Artists Agency, William Morris Endeavor and Abrams Artist

allowing brands to shop for influencers rather than blindly

Agency have all doubled down on influencers in recent

seek them out.

years, signing a raft of top digital talent and expanding

their efforts on behalf of mainstream stars with big
digital followings.

Networks and agencies

To us its just another opportunity to help the clients, says

While some brands are turning to platforms to shop for

Beth McClinton, corporate communications lead at CAA,

content creators, a number of digital influencers have

whose firm reps a diverse array of digital talent including Vine

placed their fates in the hands of a more traditional model.

star Logan Paul, YouTuber Jenna Marbles and former Buzzfeed

Digital influencer networks have grown up to represent top

video creator Matt Bellassai. We want to help our more

talent and score sponsorship deals. These networksoften

traditional clients grow their digital business, and our digital

offshoots of multi-channel video networks or even digital

team wants to help our digital-first talent grow in all areas.

publishersgroup influencers around brands and negotiate

Not just sponsorships and branded work but also in TV, film,

individual and collective deals in the style of a traditional

and publishing.

Hollywood talent shop.

childrento figure out whos hot in the influencer space. A

We know the space, but more importantly, we know our

growing number of self-service platforms, like TapInfluence

influencers, says Lisa Filipelli. We know what deals are

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing

sure its the right people so that everyone wins.

Like almost every facet of digital marketing, influencers are
going programmatic. As advertisers look to bring scale
to influencer campaigns, a new breed of programmatic
platform has emerged to allow the buying of segmented




audiences in bulk on social platforms like Snapchat

and Instagram.
These platforms allow brands to buy influencers by segment,
creating targeted programs based on campaign objectives,

Using influencers for

content promotion

Planned on increasing influencer

marketing budgets in 2015

Using influencer marketing

tactics for product launches
and content creation

prices, and target demographics. They can also tap into

preferred hashtags and order influencers by bulk numbers.
These platforms reduce the need for one-on-one relationships
between brands and influencer partners.
It can be a laborious process, says Lisa Cunie, founder and
CEO of Joan Creative and former COO of Refinery29 where
she helped to organize the publishers influencer network,
Here and Now. Youre basically sending out an RFP for each
campaign and reviewing maybe dozens of briefs. Its hard to
scale up, but automating it would make sense for big brands
or brands that arent really well versed in the space.
Further Reading
Talent Agencies Turn Clients Into Brands
Performance Based Pricing is Coming to Influencer Marketing
Programmatic Comes to Snapchat and Instagram
Influencer Campaigns

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing


Brand ambassador An influential person hired to

Influencer network An organization, often backed

Paid social Sometimes a campaign needs a shot in the

represent a brand for the long haul. Rather than jump in for a

by a larger media company, that seeks to manage the careers

arm to get the eyes that it deserves. Most social platforms

one-off campaign, they rep the brand in a positive light

of social media influencers and facilitates larger brand

allow brands to pay to promote their posts, making them

long term.

collaborations than might be possible for individuals. Early

visible to a larger audience than they would reach naturally.

examples include the multi-channel networks that grew up

Paid influencers could also be considered paid social since

around emerging YouTube stars.

brands are exchanging money for shares and engagement.

bloggers, Snapchatters and Twitter stars are all content

Macro-influencer With celebrity sized social media

Passion brand The brands that already have us by the

creators. Many content creators are also influencers, having

followings these influencers can move large numbers of eyes

heartstrings before they even spend a dime. Lifestyle brands,

racked up big audiences through their work, but not all

but their audiences tend to skew broader than their

iconic products and entertainment properties tend to fall into

influencers are content creators.

micro-influencer counterparts.

this category.

Earned media The clicks, views, and general attention

Micro-influencer Figures with niche followings on

Social reach The total number of people an influencer

that a brand gets without paying for it because media outlets

social media. These are the people with a few hundred or a

can reach through their combined following across different

are genuinely interested in the product. Think passion

few thousands followers grouped around a specific topic,

platforms. This is the number most influence marketers are

brands like Nike, Apple, and Nintendo who enjoy a wave of

interest, or location. Their audiences are smaller, but more

paying attention to when theyre shopping for influencers.

free press any time they release a new product.

likely to be keenly interested in a campaign that targets their

Content creator An individual who is good at making

stuff on the internet. YouTube vloggers, Instagram photogs,


Organic social Social media engagement that isnt paid.

When fans voluntarily engage with a brands content without
any incentive, these shares are considered to be organic.

DIGIDAY | WTF is influencer marketing