5 Predictions for Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is one of martech’s hot new spaces. Well, it’s not so new anymore, but it remains new to many brands, who are just wading in by testing out one of the many platforms that promise to optimize brand-creator partnerships by more efficiently connecting buyers and sellers, streamlining communication, and measuring results.
It is getting hard to tell one influencer marketing platform apart from another, a problem for brands questioning where to go and investors, M&A actors, and industry watchdogs wondering what really distinguishes them. To wit, I caught up with Pierre Cassuto, global chief commercial officer at influencer marketing platform Humanz, to understand how those of us looking at the space from the outside should be judging its many players.
Here are five reflections on the future of influencer marketing with which I walked away following my conversation with Cassuto.
Fraud is still a major issue in influencer marketing
Fraud in traditional media is a perennial issue, and the same is true of influencer marketing. In fact, Humanz views anti-fraud protection as one of its core differentiators.
Most of the company’s co-founders come from a cybersecurity background. They have built a platform that uses natural language processing and other AI-driven techniques to examine not only influencer accounts but also their followers to assess whether the creator and the audience they are selling are legitimate.
This is the first dimension of the “Humanz” brand, which represents a company that promises to apply humanlike scrutiny to vet creators.
But as in more established forms of advertising, fraud isn’t going to disappear from the influencer marketing ecosystem, and platforms’ ability to protect against it is likely to remain a differentiator.
Influencer platforms will offer SaaS products and managed service
The SaaS glory days are not coming to an end, but they’re evolving into a more complex landscape wherein many martech providers offer a SaaS product but also managed services. This is because brands want to dive into influencer marketing, but they don’t know how to optimize it themselves or simply do not have the bandwidth to do so.
Humanz’s SaaS business still accounts for the “majority” of its revenue, according to Cassuto, but it’s also increasingly offering managed service. I expect this to become the norm in influencer marketing tech, not to mention in other martech sectors.
Platforms will offer more power to creators to attract top talent
Brands used to talk about influencers like tech assets or a “bag of potatoes,” Cassuto said. But that’s changing as platforms vie for top talent to produce the best possible results for their client.
To attract and retain the best creators, platforms like Humanz will offer them increasingly attractive applications. For example, Humanz offers an app through which creators can connect with other creators, see what brands can see about them on the platform, and measure their own performance, including against industry benchmarks. This empowers creators to command the best possible rate for their work.
Yes, consolidation is coming to influencer marketing
Just about every industry event or discussion on the future of martech will include a prediction of consolidation. Well, there’s a reason for that — platforms tend to offer similar or complementary services, brands do not want to pay for six vendors for a task that could seemingly be handled by one, and there is power in scale.
So, Cassuto agreed, consolidation is already happening “fast” in the space and is likely to accelerate from here. “Everybody wants to own the creator ecosystem,” he said.
Web3 could see creators band together to increase their power
Web3’s meaning is still nebulous, but one element of the “decentralization” everybody is talking about that Cassuto expects to see materialize in influencer marketing is creators banding together to increase their power.
“Everybody talks about web3 as the next big step for the creator economy. … I think creators will pull together to try to control the distribution,” he said, pointing out that creators, unlike, say, bloggers, command massive audiences but do not control the distribution of their content on platforms like YouTube and Instagram. That could change with the arrival of a creator-owned social network.