By Claire Murray, Brand Innovation and Strategy, The Marketing Arm
It should be no surprise that the future of influencer is bright. Influencer marketing returns an average of 11x higher ROI than traditional digital marketing and 94% of marketers that have used influencer marketing consider it effective, according to a recent study.
Taking the simple route of incorporating influencers into an already existing idea is no longer going to cut it. It’s now an imperative business need to make influencer a component of your overall brand strategy, with a focus on influencer-led ideas.
As an agency that stays on the pulse of trends, innovations, and movements within the influencer space, here are three things we’re watching closely.
Long-Term Influencer Partnerships
Despite influencer marketing as a whole being incredibly effective, a statistic was recently released that 47% of consumers are “fatigued” by traditional influencer marketing, signaling a need and opportunity for brands to infuse more creativity and thought into influencer partnerships and programs. With consumers feeling suffocated by a never-ending stream of thoughtless #ad posts, it’s essential that brands begin to consider long-term partnerships and strategies with influencers instead of sporadic influencer boosts since “the one-off influencer campaign might as well be a programmatic banner buy.”
From time saved in the influencer identification process to truly authentic content created due to a base relationship between brand and influencer, long-term influencer partnerships are the way of the future for brands. Futuristic brands are going to seek out multi-year, long game influencer contracts as a by-product of influencer-led strategy. While brand partnerships have historically only been associated with other brands, venues, and entertainment outlets, in years to come, influencer will have a seat at the big table of partnerships.
AI + Influencer
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is dominating conversation everywhere. From major industry events such as CES, SXSW, and Cannes Lions to how we decide what music to listen to in our homes, AI is playing an active and important roll in how consumers engage with technology and how their behavior is analyzed and understood by marketers. Integrating the power of AI technology with influencer marketing is easily one of the most exciting innovations on the horizon for our industry. While most AI technology is still in the early phases of development, it’s important to understand how AI will interact with influencers and how this industry-technology partnership will ensure a bright and successful future — especially for brands that use it early.
AI built for influencer analysis will be not only be able to detect which types of content generate the best engagement but determine the best influencer-brand matches based on millions and millions of data points. In seconds, these computers will predict influencer performance, understand influencer potential, and offer recommendations that would take a team of hundreds to produce. With influencer identification, content analysis, and performance measurement being supported by AI, brands will be able reach and resonate with consumers like never before. With influencer marketing, AI is going to give insight to brands and relevance to consumers that will make it one of the most powerful players in a holistic marketing strategy.
While this aspect of the future of influencer may have a dystopian edge to it, it’s something that’s already filling newsfeeds around the globe, without many realizing it. Enter, the virtual influencer. These AI powered, CGI (computer generated imagery) created online personalities have just this year amassed millions of followers while sporting major brand labels and products, with some having even been featured on magazine covers.
Names like Shudu and Lil Miquela may spark a note of recognition since major brands such as Fenty Beauty and Prada have reposted their content. These virtual influencers are not only promoting products on their feeds but have diverse interests that humanize them to their followers like being an avid political advocate and releasing music on Spotify.
The implications for brands in this wild west of virtual influencers sparks interesting considerations from how to handle legal and IP ownership to working with a more predictable influencer with less risk. The future of influencer not only holds virtual influencers, but virtual influencers created by and for specific brands. The possibilities are truly endless and the fact that audiences globally are following and consuming these AI powered virtual influencers’ content brings into conversation the question: Do influencers have to be fully human or can they be created personalities that share content in a relatable way on a consumer channels?
These topics are a small glimpse into the many exciting trends, movements, and innovations The Marketing Arm is tracking for the future of influencer. At The Influencer Continuum on October 28-30, brands will receive a custom playbook with actionable ideas for how the future of influencer will interact with their business.