With every New Year, the conversation about how to apply lessons learned and do things better always surfaces. The marketing world is constantly changing, with new solutions cropping up every day to help marketers deliver better results, but the New Year means new budgets and a chance to reassess how to get the job done right.
To better understand the rising trend of influencer marketing, a strategy many marketing professionals are expected to engage with in coming years, we spoke with Paladin CEO and Co-Founder James Creech. Paladin is a business management platform to find, manage, and run campaigns with social influencers, and is centered on making influencer marketing programs more effective.
Here’s what Creech had to say about the future of influencer marketing and where we can expect to see it go moving forward:
Modern Marketing Today (MMT): Tell me a bit about yourself, your background, and your role at Paladin.
James Creech (JC): I started my career in adtech and I was working on one end of the value chain helping brands and agencies understand video and how to leverage the power of online to reach an audience. Then after about two and a half years in that space, I crossed over and worked on the other side of the value chain at a multichannel network, working with a next generation media company that represents online talent and digital influencers.
Through that experience, I saw really what was happening is this huge shift in the way that we consume media and entertainment. We’re watching everything from premium content on sites like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, to UGC on Facebook and Instagram, and it’s not going back. Everyone wants to watch this type of content on connected devices anywhere, anytime.
When I looked at the new media companies that were playing such a big role in shaping that landscape, it was clear that there really weren’t the right technology solutions out there for them. I would talk to people at several different companies, and everyone seemed to be struggling with the same challenges. It just occurred to us that there should be technology to help enable a better way to measure success.
So I teamed up with two partners and we launched Paladin about two years ago with the express goal of making software that helps people find the right influencers, manage those relationships, pay them on time every month, and run campaigns successfully with brands.
MMT: How do digital media metrics factor into measuring success for companies today? How has that changed over the last 10 years?
JC: If you think about historical TV buying, it was based on reach and the total number of impressions, but there’s not a lot of advanced targeting. There are not a lot of performance results that you can track through traditional TV buying, whereas with digital, you can slice and dice those audience segments. You can reach people based on their online habits, their interests, and their audience demographic in a very detailed way.
People are sick and tired of interruptive advertising, whether that’s pre-roll ads or commercials on TV. That’s why DVR has been so successful and that’s why we’ve moved towards shorter formats on digital and clickable experiences. So with influencer marketing, we’ve seen that this is actually a native way of engaging with the audience. People are much more receptive and likely to take an action if someone that they have an affinity towards is engaging with them. There’s this dialogue with an influencer who is recommending something from an authentic place, and that’s really powerful.
And the metrics that you can use to track that aren’t just the surface level views or impressions. We’ve gone a layer deeper into engagement – how are people actually reacting to this content? And beyond that, we’re seeing performance marketers leverage influencer marketing to track things like purchases, click-through activity and other actions taken by the audience after watching a piece of content.
MMT: Any marketing predictions for 2018 you’d like to share?
JC: First off, we see influencer marketing continue to grow – probably no surprise to anybody. We saw $660 million spent just on Instagram marketing this year, and now we’re seeing a lot more activity on new platforms like Twitch and Musical.ly. Of course, YouTube and Facebook continue to be big influencer marketing powerhouses.
I think we’re going to see more live activity, which is why I highlight Twitch in particular, but even what’s happening on YouTube Live and Facebook Live, that’s going to be a new area for brands. In some cases, they are pretty comfortable with it because they are used to live TV and they’ve seen the even deeper levels of engagement and the long session times that the live video affords.
In terms of other broader advertising and marketing trends, I know a lot of people decry the end of television advertising, or the shift of TV budgets to digital. I’ve never quite seen that to be the case. TV is still important and it’s still growing, albeit at a slowing rate.
So try not to be just a traditional TV or digital isolationist. I think there’s a lot that the two formats can learn from one another, and while digital is growing at double digit rates and you’ve got new categories or new areas that are trying to professionalize the media and media opportunities, there’s a lot that they can apply using the principals from television.
So I think we’re going to see more and more traditional TV buyers experimenting with digital and I think we’re going to see more crossover campaigns, similar to what’s been pioneered with the Super Bowl and other tent pole events in recent years.