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What the Hell Did My Influencer Help Me With?

There’s a famous advertising joke which goes: ‘50% of my advertising money in dollars are wasted, I just don’t know which half’. This was true until something called the internet was invented. Then in 1994, AT&T paid HotWired, a subsidiary of Wired, $30,000 to run a banner ad that said, "Have you ever clicked your mouse right here? You will." And the future of advertising was changed.

For the first time, a marketer could see how the consumer interacted with the ad. AT&T was told that 44% of visitors clicked on the ad. This created an evolution! Digital ads started to target specific demographics and ROI tools were introduced such as DoubleClick to measure CPM (Cost Per Impression). In 2000, Google AdWords was introduced and marketers started to turn to paid search and pay per click. Then something called social media began to get popular. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram ruled the ether and the most popular accounts began to realize they were modern-day celebrities. You could post workout videos and get paid $100,000 to promote a protein drink. Or be sent fancy articles of clothing for free and show off your style to your followers (all while making a sizable check, too). What an amazing career. 

 Tons of companies and agencies began to pay these influencers to promote their product and why not? They had millions of ‘followers’ and the logic went if people were following them, then their followers would want to buy the products the influencers were using. In reality, advertising is back to the dark ages. Large brands and companies are using influencers without thinking about ROI. Metrics such as impressions, organic reach, and engagements are becoming the new norm. 

 As a CMO, you need to start asking, "What the Hell Did My Influencer Help Me With?" How do you do this? First, check out engagement and see if they have many followers, but little engagement (such as likes and comments). This is a tell-tale sign that the account has fake influencers. To confirm this, utilize a platform auditing tool that provides you with the percentage of followers who are likely human. Secondly, consider tools such as tracked links so that you can directly track the user funnel from the influencer ad all the way through the cycle.

 Do you need influencers for your consumer products? Yes, it's an important part of overall marketing spend. But it doesn't mean you should be irresponsible. Hold your influencers accountable and ensure you are getting max ROI for your investment. Vanity metrics are real and it seems like everyone is falling for them. 

Ari Lewis