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.
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
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.
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.
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
Animation: How Tech is Eating the Brand World
Changing consumer expectations have created a harsh environment for traditional brands to operate in—will tech companies make them obsolete?
How Technology is Eating the Brand World
Building a brand with an imperishable competitive edge can be difficult.
Technology companies however, are redefining what that edge means. By hastily responding to emerging consumer needs and leveraging the power of brand, these companies can continuously create meaningful solutions for real problems with scale.
Today’s animated chart highlights the most valuable brands in 2019 versus 2001, according to the annual “Best Global Brands” ranking by Interbrand. It illustrates the degree to which technology companies have been able to scale into massive brands over a short time frame, supplanting some of the best known companies in the world.
What is Brand Value, and How is it Measured?
Interbrand has created and consistently used a robust formula to measure brand value. Brand value is the Net Present Value (NPV) or the present value of the earnings that a brand is forecasted to generate in the future.
The formula evaluates brands based on their financial forecast, brand role, and brand strength. The full methodology can be found here.
Tech Reigns Supreme
In 2001, the cumulative brand value was $988 billion. Today, that value stands at $2.1 trillion and represents an average CAGR of 4.4%. Over the years, global tech giants have swiftly climbed the ranks, and now represent a significant amount of the total brand value.
In fact, with a combined brand value of almost $700 billion, tech companies account for half of the top 10 most valuable brands in the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple holds the title for the world’s most valuable brand in 2019—for the seventh year running.
Only 31 brands from the 2001 ranking remain on the Best Global Brands list today, including Disney, Nike, and Gucci. Coca-Cola and Microsoft are the few who have remained in the top 10.
Below is the full list of the world’s most valuable brands:
|Rank||Brand||Brand Value ($B)||1-Yr Value Change||Industry|
|#71||Hewlett Packard Enterprise||$8B||-3%||Technology|
|#86||Johnson & Johnson||$6B||-8%||Retail|
|#94||Tiffany & Co||$5B||-5%||Fashion|
Since 2001—the first year the report featured 100 brands—several tech companies have joined and climbed their way to the top of the list, while 137 notable brands dropped off entirely, including Nokia and MTV.
In an interesting turn of events, Facebook dropped out of the top 10, and into 14th place after a volatile year. The move however, is not surprising. The tech giant has been mired in controversies, ranging from data privacy issues to prioritizing political influence.
Which Brands Are Growing the Fastest?
2019’s fastest growing brands also signals tech domination, with Mastercard, Salesforce and Amazon leading the charge.
The companies in this ranking experienced a significant increase in their brand value year-over-year (YoY).
|Rank||Brand||Brand Value ($B)||YoY Growth|
According to Interbrand, the success of these brands may be attributed to their ability to anticipate rapidly changing customer expectations.
While the relationship between business performance and brand equity has been a widely debated topic for decades, it is clear that customer satisfaction bolsters brand equity, and encourages impressive financial results.
Disrupt, or Be Disrupted
Beyond anticipating changing needs, some of the most successful brands also cater to a younger customer base. This is the most evident in luxury and retail—the two fastest growing sectors for the second consecutive year.
This audience is tech-first in their buying habits and increasingly demand more elevated and shareable experiences. As a result, traditional brands across all sectors are innovating to keep up with this audience, and some are essentially becoming tech companies in the process.
For example, Gucci attributes their success to finding the perfect blend between creativity and technology. The company that once relied on its heritage, now focuses heavily on ecommerce and social media to engage with their Gen Z customers.
Similarly, Walmart recently announced that they are employing virtual reality headsets and machine-learning-powered robots in an attempt to compete with Amazon.
Will traditional companies ultimately become tech companies, or simply get eaten alive?
Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?
A revealing look at consolidation and ownership of news media outlets in the United States. See who owns news media, and where ‘news deserts’ exist.
Who Owns Your Favorite News Media Outlet?
It’s no secret that news media is a tough industry.
For various reasons — from tech disruption to changing media consumption habits — the U.S. has seen a net loss of 1,800 local newspapers over the past 15 years. As regional newspapers are bundled together, and venture-backed digital media brands expand their portfolios, the end result is a trend towards increased consolidation.
Today’s graphic, created by TitleMax, is a broad look at who owns U.S. news media outlets.
Escaping the News Desert
As outlets battle the duopoly of Google and Facebook for advertising revenue, the local news game has become increasingly difficult.
As a result, news deserts have been springing up all over America:
What happens when times get tough?
One option is to simply go out of business, while another traditional solution is to combine forces through consolidation. While not ideal, the latter option at least provides a potential route to revenue and cost synergies that make it easier to compete in a challenging environment.
Nation of Consolidation
Though the numbers have decreased in recent years, regional news media still reaches millions of people each day.
Below is a look at the top 20 owners of America’s newspapers:
|Parent Companies||Total Papers||Example brands|
|New Media Investment Group||451||Patriot Ledger, The Columbus Dispatch, The Providence Journal|
|Gannett||216||USA Today, Detroit Free Press, Arizona Republic|
|Digital First Media||158||Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Denver Post|
|Adams Publishing Group||144||The Charlotte Sun, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle|
|CNHI||114||Niagara Gazette, The Huntsville Item, The Lebanon Reporter|
|Lee Enterprises||100||Arizona Daily Sun, St. Louis Post Dispatch|
|Ogden Newspapers||81||The Maui News, The Toledo Chronicle, Salem News|
|Tribune Publishing||77||Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun|
|Berkshire Hathaway Media||75||Buffalo News, Winston-Salem Journal, Omaha World-Herald|
|Shaw Media||71||Suburban Life Magazine, Putnam County Record|
|Boone Newspapers||66||The Austin Daily Herald, The Charlotte Gazette|
|Hearst Corp.||66||San Francisco Chronicle, Seattlepi.com, Houston Chronicle|
|Paxton Media Group||58||Daily Corinthian, Connersville News-Examiner|
|Landmark Media Enterprises||55||Citrus County Chronicle, The News-Enterprise|
|Community Media Group||51||Lafayette Leader, The Wellsboro Gazette|
|AIM Media||50||Odessa American, El Nuevo Heraldo|
|McClatchy||49||Idaho Statesman, Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee|
|Advance Publications||46||The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, The Oregonian, NJ.com|
|Rust Communications||44||Cherokee Chronicle Times, Southeast Missourian|
|News Media Corp.||43||Cheyenne Minuteman, Brookings Register, Newport News Times|
Turnover in this segment of the market has been brisk. In fact, more than half of existing newspapers have changed ownership in the past 15 years, some multiple times. For example, the LA Times is now in the hands of its third owner since 2000, after being purchased by billionaire biotech investor Patrick Soon-Shiong.
The industry may be facing another dramatic drop off in ownership diversity as the two largest players, New Media Investment Group and Gannett, are on the path to merging. If shareholders give the thumbs-up during the vote this November, Gannett will have amassed the largest online audience of any American news provider.
The Flying Vs: Vox and Vice
It isn’t just regional papers being swept up in the latest round of mergers and acquisitions — new media is getting into the mix as well.
Vox Media recently inked a deal to acquire New York Media, the firm behind New York Magazine, Vulture, and The Cut.
I think you’re going to see that trend [of consolidation] across the industry. I just hope it’s done for the right reasons. You see too many of these things done for financial engineering.
– Jim Bankoff, CEO of Vox Media
Meanwhile, Vice recently acquired Refinery29 for $400 million, giving it access to a new audience skewed towards millennial women. This match-up seems awkward on the surface, but it allows advertisers to reach a broader cross-section of people within each ad ecosystem.
Both companies announced layoffs in the past year, and this restructuring may help both companies win as they consolidate resources.
The Bottom Line
While news media isn’t quite as consolidated as the broader media ecosystem, it’s certainly trending in that direction. Thousands of American communities that had local newspapers in 2004 now have no news coverage at all, while remaining papers are increasingly becoming units within an umbrella company, with no direct stake in community reporting.
That said, until the issue of monetization is definitively sorted out, consolidation may be the only way to keep the presses from stopping.
About the Graphic
This list of top 100 news sites was compiled using the following criteria:
– The top “digital-native” news outlets by monthly unique visitors (Pew Research and ComScore, excluding sports)
– The top newspapers by average Sunday circulation (Pew Research and Alliance for Audited Media)
– Alexa’s top sites under the category of news (U.S. only, excluding user-generated)
Note: The graphic has been updated to reflect changes in ownership for Refinery29, Gizmodo, and Jezebel.
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