Sign up here for the latest articles
By Leah Montebello
Dr. Matthias Göllner, Senior Director of Sales (EMEA) at CreatorIQ, explains current market trends and how brands can measure ROI with data in influencer marketing.
In-house work is “becoming more and more important as brands want to take more control of the destiny and the way they utilise the influencer channel” – Dr. Matthias Göllner, Senior Director of Sales (EMEA) at CreatorIQ
Influencer marketing is yet another string to a marketers’ bow. Not only does it engage consumers in a personal and interactive fashion, but it also allows brands to find more adaptive and engaging ways to get their messaging out there.
There has been a huge influx of influencer marketing in recent years, and according to a 2021 benchmark report, influencer marketing is expected to be a $13.8 billion industry this year: with 65 percent of marketers having used it over the past 12 months. Dr. Matthias Göllner, Senior Director of Sales (EMEA) at CreatorIQ, is confident about the state of the market, describing the industry as one that is “maturing and getting heavy investment”.
Whilst this sounds all well and good, how can these types of campaigns be measured from a brand’s perspective, and how can procurement teams ensure value for money?
CreatorIQ is one of the leading platforms in the influencer marketing space, supporting clients from both brands and agencies to run and scale their influencer programmes. Since its creation in 2014, their goal has been to make influencer marketing data-driven, end-to-end, from set-up to activation to optimisation.
In terms of finding influencers, which CreatorIQ calls ‘creators’, the company uses a discovery engine equipped with Google AI image recognition; complemented by a variety of data points on creator and audience demographics or social platform metrics. The engine then gives clients recommendations from the over 20 million creators up for grabs, and presents their audience profiles, growth history, and cross-platform content.
This is the basis for vetting creators and provides clients with a clear foundation to build on. The platform also allows clients to build a private CRM of creators, process payments to influencers, as well as managing regulatory data, tax issues and coordinate social media campaigns. The company has worked with the likes of ABInBev, Disney, H&M, Mattel, Salesforce, Sephora and Unilever.
Now, seven years on, it has become the world’s largest influencer marketing SaaS platform, raising a total of $40.8 million. Their latest funding was raised in July 2020 in a Series C round, with investment from the likes of Kayne Partners and Unilever Ventures.
A common issue with influencer marketing is the difficulty of quantification. Not only is it harder to track influencer engagement, but you are also handing over your brand legacy to the influencer in question.
The way influencer marketing is traditionally measured is conversions/sales, which are facilitated through likes and click through rates. Whilst this is great from a brand exposure perspective, it can be difficult for marketers to determine what truly drives results.
Interestingly, the recent ANA’s Media KPIs That Matter reports that when respondents were asked “Which KPIs do you consider to be ‘head fakes’ for the media?” (e.g. aren’t really useful and may even be potentially deceptive), they listed likes/comments, and shares on social media as some of these. They were ranked with low importance and perhaps undermine the influencer culture metrics.
The ANA’s top five KPIs were measuring CPM (cost per thousand), CPC (cost per click or interaction), Unique Reach, ROI/ROAS (Outcome versus Marketing Investment) Based on Spending or Lift and finally Site Visits.
Trends in the market
An area of growth discussed by Göllner was the trend of in-housing and the idea that it is “becoming more and more important as brands want to take more control of the destiny and the way they utilise the influencer channel”.
For quite a while, and accelerated by the pandemic, there has been an acute realisation that brands need to be more aware of their budgets, and agencies need to further justify their strategic decisions. As Göllner explains, “We are a technology-first company and not a hybrid model like a creator marketplace. We work with both brands and agencies to optimise their campaigns through our data and give them more flexibility, and control over creator relationships. CreatorIQ can slot seamlessly into their digital marketing strategies and technology stack, and ultimately how they approach consumers and leverage their influencers”.
On the topic of virtual influencers, whilst CreatorIQ are not doubling down on their usage yet, they are interested to see how the market develops. Citing Asia as an emerging market for virtual influencers, Göllner sees that Europe is probably “a decade behind that”. However, he is open-minded to its huge potential moving forward.
Instead, CreatorIQ are more excited about the continuing rise of authentic and long-term relationships between brands and influencers, the emergence of micro and nano influencer activations at scale, and the potential of machine learning and data models. He predicts a rise of Performance Influencer Marketing, as influencer marketing further converges with traditional performance marketing channels, such as Facebook ads and affiliate marketing.
The past year has shown how industry verticals are constantly shifting, and Göllner cites Esports and gaming as another huge area of growth for the team. This has required CreatorIQ to be agile in their innovation and ultimately plug their investment in the right places.
“We are fortunate to have our amazing clients and investors, so that even during a pandemic we were able to keep focused on driving product innovation, and come out of it even stronger and not have to lose or make any sacrifices in how we support our clients”, he explains.
Despite some scandals of the past year, e.g. with travel influencers, Göllner believes that this heralds a new era of brand-influencer relations. “Brands have had to really look closer, and also have the data behind that to calibrate it properly”, he urges.
This deeper scrutiny will be complemented with a stronger focus on data and performance mindset, an emphasis on data integrity, quality and integrations, and has ultimately meant some platform players have inevitably disappeared from the market.
However, Göllner asserts, “I think we’ve positioned ourselves quite well to grow and continue to strengthen”, and is confident that CreatorIQ’s impact will continue to grow.