Influencers are more integral to marketers than ever

Social media influencers have become so integral to the process of selling merchandise that they have become appendages of the biggest marketing organizations in the world.

Why is this important: Online creators, whether on YouTube, Instagram or TikTok, have not only fulfilled a role in showcasing products, but also in filling creative gaps as advertising agencies have shrunk.

Driving the news: During a panel I moderated last week at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in France, I asked marketing executives at Dove and Pernod Ricard if creators had become more or less part-time employees.

  • Pam Forbus, CMO of Pernod Ricard North America, and Dove’s Global CMO Alessandro Manfredi both said yes, with Manfredi adding that his organization is “now keen to hire more people internally who manage [and] build relationships with influencers.

State of play: The advertising industry has suffered from a brain drain for years – with some creatives going freelance while others have left for tech platforms.

  • As the pandemic pushed people to their devices, influencer reach and effectiveness increased, and marketing dollars followed.
  • A large majority of marketers (69%) say their influencer budgets make up a larger proportion of their overall marketing budgets now than before the pandemic. It depends a September 2021 survey of over 1,000 marketers in the UK and US from influencer marketing agency Takumi.

The big picture: While social platforms owned by companies like Google and Meta have disrupted global communications, they have also come to dominate the global advertising market.

  • “The people there are more talented than ever,” said Antonis Kocheilas, global CEO of Ogilvy Advertising, during the panel.
  • “You have kids who can do things that we needed 10 years ago from a company, and they can do it with their own phones…how to make that talent work for a company…that’s what we all struggle with.”

What to watch: How brands select influencers to reflect their diverse consumer base and how carefully brands should monitor influencer behavior.

  • According to Takumi’s survey, only 28% of people in the US and UK think brands adequately represent diversity.
  • In 2020, mattress brand Casper cited adverse influence activity as a financial risk to its business.

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