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Influencer Marketing: The Latest Weapon in the Battle for Eyeballs

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Influencer marketing is having its moment.

Whether it’s a tagged pair of shoes in an Instagram post, or an “unboxing” video on Snapchat, brands are fighting hard to get their products into the hands of social media celebs who can move the needle on their sales numbers.

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, over one-third of marketers have a standalone budget for influencers in 2017.

It’s easy to see the appeal as influencer marketing can deliver 11 times higher ROI than traditional brand marketing. As influencer–brand partnerships begin to reach mass adoption, what metrics should markets be looking at? Today’s infographic is good primer on the state of influencer marketing.

Influencer Marketing Infographic

At first glance, influencer marketing sounds like a strange concept, but it’s a natural evolution of content marketing over social media platforms. To understand influencer marketing, it helps if we step back and look at the big picture of how content marketing actually works.

Content Marketing: Fighting for Feed Space

Most social media platforms have the same format – content posted by people is arranged into a customized “feed” for you to consume. Content marketing is simply the process of getting users to follow your brand on platforms so your content appears in their feeds.

In the earlier days of social media marketing, people were more actively seeking out accounts to follow, including brand accounts. Today though, many platforms have hit a growth plateau, so unless your brand already has a large, engaged audience, it can tough to gain any traction. To add a layer of difficulty, many platforms (particularly in the Facebook ecosystem) now restrict the reach of brand accounts in an effort to get them to spend money on advertising.

In short, reaching people (including your opt-in audience) is much harder than it used to be.

The Human Connection

The algorithms that rank posts in your feed are looking for something specific: engagement. And let’s face it, a brand posting about their product is not going to be as exciting as a well-connected personality showcasing their life. It’s the latter example that shows up first in social feeds, and that’s one major benefit to working with an influencer.

As well, peer opinion is a powerful force in purchase decisions. If a content creator is truly influential, they can provide a massive boost to a brand’s profile that would be very difficult to manufacture through other marketing methods.

We see these creators as partners of the brand helping us to build deeper connections with the young millennials who look up to them.

– Obioma Enyia, Head of Brand Marketing at PepsiCo

Demographic Bundling

Smart marketers are always looking for ways to target the right demographics to maximize the efficiency of their spend. Because influencers already have a measurable and observable audience, you can hone in on a specific type of consumer. If you find similar influencers in other regions, you can scale out a campaign in a very effective way.

Bigger brand are often looking for macro impact, and shell out big bucks to work with top tier celebrity influencers, but brands can take a more grassroots approach and partner with content creators at the city or even neighborhood level (often for a fraction of the spend). This is referred to as “micro-influence”, and is a fast-growing segment of influencer marketing.

How Does Compensation Work?

Compensation can take a few forms, but many influencers work on a pay-per-post basis. Experienced influencers will often be happy to receive compensation through referrals, particularly on platforms that have e-commerce integration.

influencer compensation chart pricing

How Do You Measure This Stuff?

Measuring the effectiveness of a campaign always comes down to sales in the end, but an influencer’s contribution to that can take different forms. Some brands are simply looking to align their brand with a “cool personality” who fits with their target audience. Other times, it will make sense to work with people who can drive traffic – and ultimately conversions – to their shopping cart.

influencer marketing measuring success chart

Industry Pushback

Many agencies are skeptical of the influencer marketing trend.

Since there is no industry standard for reporting results, and because certain platforms (e.g. Snapchat) offer scant analytics, it can be tough to calculate ROI or trust the numbers in post-campaign reports.

I have very strong opinions about micro-influencers. It’s basically the biggest scam…

– Anonymous marketing executive (The full interview)

Along with dubious analytics, marketers should watch for fake followers and engagement. Keeping track of average engagement rates and doing a proper qualitative analysis on an influencer’s account should be the first step before working together.

The Evolution of Sponsored Posts

There will be an estimated 14.5 million* sponsored posts in 2017, and by 2019 that number could mushroom to 35 million. This spike in popularity is prompting concerns that we’re reaching a saturation point for influencer marketing, and that consumers will begin to tune out sponsored posts.

One thing is for certain, social media personalities are amassing sizable audiences for their content and are commanding serious marketing dollars in the process. It remains to be seen whether sponsored posts become a ubiquitous part of the social media landscape, or whether it will become a hackneyed tactic.

*This estimate only accounts for tagged, public posts

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How the eSports Industry Fares Against Traditional Sports

eSports has evolved into a billion dollar industry in just a decade, but how does it fare against traditional sports when it comes to monetization?

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How the eSports Industry Fares Against Traditional Sports

In just a decade, electronic sports (eSports) has evolved from an underground culture into a mainstream industry worth billions of dollars today.

The industry is growing at an explosive rate, and with major tech giants like Amazon and Google vying for a piece of the pie, the future of this industry is an exciting one.

It’s no surprise that eSports is often compared to its predecessor, traditional sports. However, eSports certainly has none of the typical confines of a traditional sport—so how does it compare in terms of audience size, market potential, and revenue?

An Equal Playing Field?

eSports is an umbrella term for competitions played on electronic systems, typically by professional video gamers—with the first competition dating back to 1972.

The 16 to 24-year-old audience has increased by 60% since 2017, fueling the rapid growth of this emerging industry. The global audience is expected to grow to 276 million by 2022, with League of Legends tournaments often boasting a higher viewership than some of the biggest U.S. leagues:

Cumulative Viewership (2017 finals)

  • NFL Super Bowl: 124 million viewers
  • League of Legends: 58 million viewers
  • MLB World Series: 38 million viewers
  • NBA Finals: 32 million viewers
  • NHL Stanley Cup Finals: 11 million viewers

While viewership can surpass that of well-known professional leagues, it doesn’t yet stack up in terms of monetization. That said, this aspect is now increasing enough to be seen as a threat to more traditional leagues.

How Much is eSports Worth?

According to Goldman Sachs, eSports will exceed $1 billion in revenue in 2019, and reach $3 billion by 2022. eSports creates the foundation for an entire ecosystem of opportunities, which include live-streaming, game development, player fanbases, and brand investments for sponsorship and advertising—where 82% of revenue currently comes from.

Although eSports under-indexes on monetization relative to the size of its audience, there is a huge opportunity for it to close the gap, given the predicted 35% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for total eSports revenue between 2017 and 2022.

Getting Attention from the World’s Biggest Players

The success of eSports tournaments is attributed to live-streaming platforms. Amazon’s purchase of leading video-streaming site, Twitch, allowed Amazon to tap into the rapidly growing eSports audience, along with other live-streaming opportunities. Since the acquisition in 2014, the number of average viewers has doubled to 15 million, half of YouTube’s daily viewership.

Google, which lost the bidding war for Twitch, has recently made its own big move into gaming with cloud gaming service Google Stadia. Ultimately, the company hopes it will help keep live-streamers on YouTube instead of competing platforms.

The Future of eSports

Over time, eSports will tap into bigger advertising budgets, and reach national, regional, and global levels, as traditional sports are able to. eSports will also be a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games, which could pave the way for full Olympic status.

As a whole, eSports is starting to seriously compete with the big leagues. With a massive worldwide appeal, passionate fans, and billion-dollar revenues, the industry is only beginning to take flight.

The debate however, is not around the battle between eSports and traditional sports. It is around the shift to celebrating a culture that is completely virtual, over one that is physical—which has much bigger implications.

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Ranked: The 10 Organizations With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

According to a representational poll of 18,228 Americans, these are the organizations considered to have the best and worst reputations.

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There is no shortcut to gaining a bulletproof reputation.

To get there, businesses not only need to think long term, but they also need to do what is considered “right” in every possible situation.

Aspiring companies must be truly customer-centric, going above and beyond in how they treat their customers. They also require a cohesive vision that helps create a loyal and fervent fanbase that will go to bat for them anytime it’s needed.

The Best and Worst Reputations in America

Today’s infographic from TitleMax highlights the 10 organizations that have the best reputations in the country, followed by 10 that fall on the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

In total, the visualization shows five years of data, so you can see how the rankings have changed over this stretch of time.

Ranked: The 10 Organizations With the Best (and Worst) Reputations

As you can see, the reputations of organizations are very much in flux.

In fact, you can even see the impact of recent news cycles on the rankings for 2019.

For example, Patagonia shot up the rankings to become the #3 most respected company after donating its entire $10 million tax cut to environmental groups, while the U.S. government and Facebook both make an appearance on the worst list, thanks to recent negative media coverage.

The Best Reputations Over Five Years

If you haven’t heard of Wegmans Food Market, you might want to stop by a location the next time you’re in the Northeast.

With 99 stores and about $9 billion in revenue per year, this family-run supermarket chain believes that in order to be a great place to shop, it must also be a great place to work. This mantra must be effective, since Wegmans consistently ranks as having one of the best reputations in the entire country.

Also ranking high on the list is Amazon, which was founded as an “obsessively” customer-oriented company. The online retailer has taken the #1 spot in the rankings in three of the last five years, despite a generally negative sentiment hanging over tech giants in recent months.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”

— Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com

The Worst Reputations Over Five Years

As Warren Buffett quipped, a reputation can be built over decades, but it can also be lost in just five minutes.

Various companies that have experienced recent scandals make the list here (i.e., Facebook, Volkswagen, Equifax). It’s also interesting to see that years after each scandal, rankings seem to normalize as the media and public get preoccupied with newer events.

Ranking Methodology

The ranking is based on a survey by Harris Poll, in which the 100 Most Visible Companies in the country are scored and ranked using a proprietary “Reputation Quotient”. For the 2019 edition, the poll had 18,228 respondents from a nationally representative sample.

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