Influencers Struggle with Measurement as Channel Evolves

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Many marketers still think of influencers as nascent affiliate partners. But as the channel evolves, influencers are seeking more sophisticated tools to assess their value and substantiate their impact as a marketing channel. 

That’s according to a new report by the partnership management platform in partnership with WARC. The firms surveyed more than 400 influencers and 400 marketers across North America, Asia, Europe, and Australia to assess influencer marketing’s role in the marketing funnel and the state of brand-marketer relationships.

The state of influencer marketing

Both influencers and marketers ranked trust as a key reason for their collaborations. Eighty-five percent of influencers and 67% of marketers ranked trust and authenticity as among the top strengths of the channel. That was the top strength named by influencers and second among marketers, who identified engagement as influencers’ chief asset.

Indeed, the numbers appear to show that influencers are a trusted top-of-funnel strategy, as 75% of marketers said they use influencers for awareness and 73% for engagement. Ideally, influencers can leverage their trust with diverse audiences to expand a brand’s customer base and generate attention, possibly transforming followers into customers later on.

But the channel is also evolving into more of a full-funnel play. With social commerce capabilities, influencers are not just driving awareness but transactions. In this arena, influencer marketing can be especially helpful as a natively audiovisual content engine that helps marketers stand out in saturated digital environments.

Measurement matters for an evolving channel

The report suggested that influencers realize how much power they wield to drive transactions and are increasingly concerned with getting paid adequately for their impact. In fact, correlating pay with content value was the no. 1 challenge for influencers, 60% of whom identified it as a struggle. Fifty percent said balancing brand requirements with creative freedom is another challenge they face.

As for marketers, they may be hoping for engagement upfront, but the longer they work with influencers, the more they come around to seeing trust and authenticity as an influencer’s value proposition. Marketers who worked with influencers over a longer period touted trust and authenticity as important factors in their collaborations 73% of the time, up from 67% for shorter partnerships.

On the whole, the report paints the picture of a channel growing up. Influencers are among digital media’s newest class of publishers, and marketers will be partnering with them for years to come as they try to do what marketers have always done: leverage attention wielders to make inroads with their target audiences. But “trust,” while important, is not going to cut it. For the sake of both marketers and influencers, the channel needs standards and metrics. And that’s why an entire sector of influencer marketing platforms and measurement solutions is emerging.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]