“Influencer Marketing” is rightfully becoming one of the biggest trends in the world of digital promotion. Nearly 60% of marketers plan to boost – or create – influencer marketing budgets in the upcoming calendar year.
As a marketer who believes in the power endorsement I’m thrilled about these developments. Specifically, the adoption of new technologies that can drive the industry forward, and the sentiment that follows. However, I’m not thrilled about labelling it a “trend”. Influencer marketing is no new phenomena. It’s old. So old that it is in fact one of the first forms of modern advertising ever used; genuine brand endorsements from celebrities.
Take for instance the highly coveted Milo Bar Bell Advertisement from June 1902. An ad for barbells claiming that to be the “first system for making strong men, strong”. In this ad, Mr. Frank F. Jones, weightlifting champion of Philadelphia is depicted holding a dumbbell loaded to 150 lbs. with ease.
The controversial Lucky Strike ads of 1930 depict actual physicians endorsing the use of it’s cigarettes. 20,679 of them to be specific.
In both of these advertisements and the countless brand endorsements to follow, the message is clear; these celebrities/influencers are being used to promote a product to an audience that a corporation cannot access or find ways to resonate with.
So if influencer marketing always existed, why is it becoming so popular once again?
If you look into the landscape of advertising over the last twenty years it becomes apparent that this is due to a lack of efficacy in high cost advertising models and ad technologies that are not readily understandable to the common brand manager.
Lack of Efficacy
The lack of efficacy in advertising has been staggering over the last 20 years. With new and innovative tools, a plethora of innovative agencies, and websites full of so called “experts” our idea of what advertising is has become incredibly diluted. Marketers have become slaves to the latest “trends” and attractive technologies at the sacrifice of ignoring proven methodologies and industry wisdom from experienced professionals.
Current ad technologies mandate real experts to yield real results. Even agencies and SAAS level products dedicated to these types of tools get a bad rap in the ad world as the “shisters” of the internet. If you’ve ever dedicated to a successful pay-per-click campaign in any platform, you know just how taxing it can be to get this formula right.
Technologies that try to disrupt the pay for play methodology usually fail to produce ACTUAL results. See the once hyped and no longer existent Bre.ad.
Most importantly, influencer marketing has become a new trend because new technologies have granted new access to influential individuals in a cost effective manner. And this methodology is selling product.
The lack of understanding in current tools and the lack of efficacy of the industry in general has produced a climate too difficult and too expensive for the average brand manager to comprehend. This has placed an emphasis on cost effective results and easy to understand promotions, rather than ambiguous vanity and brand metrics.
It’s here to stay.
For the aforementioned reasons, influencer marketing never left and it is here to stay. The evolution of the industry and the size of your budget may result in labelling the practice as “celebrity” or “influencer”, nonetheless the principle remains the same; selling product through genuine brand endorsements. And it seems the reality is, genuine brand endorsements approached effectively, have typically performed better than metric oriented campaigns in difficult to understand technologies.