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Head to Head: Should ad agencies be worried about influencers?

In this series, Mumbrella invites the industry's senior PR professionals to share their opposing views on the industry's biggest issues. This week, Natalie Giddings, MD at The Remarkables Group, goes head to head with PPR's Snezna Kerekovic on whether or not ad agencies should be worried about influencers.

Should creative agencies be worried about the rise of influencers and influencer marketing? With influencers creating more content for brands, will they begin to take some work from creative agencies?

Natalie Giddings, managing director at The Remarkables Group, says marketers are beginning to realise the importance of having influencers as the centre of ad campaigns.

However, PPR’s business director, Snezna Kerekovic disagrees, arguing influencers could actually learn from traditional advertising and influencers need to work with both PR and ad agencies to achieve the best outcomes.

Yes, argues Natalie Giddings, managing director, The Remarkables Group:

Giddings says: ‘The most compelling reason to leverage influencers is the relationship they’ve built with their audience’

“The most compelling reason to leverage influencers is the relationship they’ve built with their audience. When you find the right partners, they are a direct connection to the very people your brand serves.

“These guys have built their audience who are anticipating seeing new experiences, products and recommendations to try. This should form the basis of your program. They may know your audience better than your ad agency. I’m not sure what to coin it yet, but we’ve created an index that measures the influencer’s ability to create an intention to buy (ITB) or intention to purchase (ITP). One of the key indicators is the sheer number of brand related direct messages the influencers receive when they promote a product or service.

“Consider the main reason to leverage advertising: to reach as many new people as possible. I had a revelation recently when reading the audience for this season of The Bachelor finale was 1.2m. Admittedly, I’ve never watched an episode, but I’m certain a large number of advertisers line up to be involved. I was reviewing the statistics for a tiny campaign we were reporting on that day: $25,000, with nine influencers. The actual reach was only 100,000 individuals shy of The Bachelor’s figure, content creation included.”

No, argues Snezna Kerekovic, business director, PPR:

Kerekovic says: “influencers can learn a thing or two from traditional advertising”

“Influencer marketing seems like a marketer’s dream, allowing brands to zero in on a highly relevant audience and tap into their ability to impact behaviour, often for less spend than traditional advertising and in a very targeted way. But, as its popularity has grown, so too has the dilution of their effect and the increased need for marketers to engage agencies help them navigate and manage the ever-evolving landscape.

“In the heyday of influence, the beauty of engaging influencers was that they were ‘people like me’ who were believable. They enabled marketers to tap into that influence in a way that was true to the ambassador’s channel. But with more and more sponsored content, that whole believability is being increasingly thrown into question both for audiences and marketers.

“That ratio of sponsored content is sure to be increasingly on a marketer’s radar. Brands will start to review content and, in some cases, begin to see it looking like a modern version of what is essentially a magazine filled with ads. And that’s not an appealing prospect for brands in terms of engaging in an authentic and organic way with an influencer’s audience.

“Marketers are rightly now wanting to be able to track the percentage of sponsored content over organic and then engagement rate of both, which will help determine the true influence of that content and, ultimately the ROI.

“If anything, influencers can learn a thing or two from traditional advertising, around ensuring that the ratio of organic content is weighted in favour of sponsored content, that marketers are provided with greater transparency around audience profile and how they engage with the content, as well as provide measurement of the impact of the content for the brand.

“Influencers are at heart content creators/publishers. PR and ad agencies need to partner with influencers to support them in providing the necessary strategies and measurement of these channels. Marketers still need agency expertise to help identify, manage, optimise and measure the effectiveness of influencer channels just like any other channel program.”

  • As told to Abigail Dawson. If you’re a senior PR professional who would like to take part in a future Head to Head, please email abigail@mumbrella.com.au
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