Study claims ‘cash for comment’ row has eased as marketers incentivise social influencers

influencer marketer studyMarketers are becoming increasingly comfortable giving away free product and paying influencers to promote their brands as the “cash for comment” row subsides, according to a new study.

A survey of 110 marketers conducted by marketing agency Contagious also found marketers are moving away from blogger campaigns and turning to Facebook and Instagram influencers to create branded content.

“Back in 2012 it was all about bloggers, but now You Tube vloggers and some of the more visual mediums are really seeing a lot of traction,” Contagious managing director Nick Law said.

The survey results suggest influencers hold growing appeal for marketers with 75 per cent saying they have ploughed money into the channel in 2014/15, with 78 per cent of those injecting $50,000 or more.

According to the survey it is now regarded as the third most effective channel in terms of return on investment, behind Facebook advertising and TV.

Of those marketers using social media influencers to promote their products 41 per cent identified engagement levels as the most important metric of success, with only 13 per cent naming sales as the key driver, with 18 per cent saying they were focused on cost per impression.

influencer marketer comments

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The study also found that marketers are increasingly incentivising influencers with 84 per cent offering free product, and 53 per cent paying the influencer. Law said is represents a shift from a few years ago.

“I remember back in 2008 when the big cash for comment debate was going strong,” he said. “It’s interesting to see how things have changed and that marketers are now more comfortable with paying influencers for their time.”

Half of the survey respondents said they regarded influencer marketing as effective, nine per cent described it as very effective and 36 per cent somewhat effective.

Asked for their key objective of spending money with influencers, marketers said it was to educate consumers and shift perceptions.

Contagious strategic director Zoe Boalch said she was unsurprised at the findings, saying influencers have “more scope than traditional above the line marketing to communicate the benefits and shift perceptions via in-depth recommendations”.

One third of respondents said they intend to increase their influencer marketing spend this financial year with 50 per cent maintaining their budget and 13 per cent unsure.

Lorraine Murphy

Lorraine Murphy

Lorraine Murphy, founder and head of relationships at The Remarkables Group, said bloggers remained a critical element of influencing marketing, but said video content was becoming increasingly important for brands.

“It’s hard to tell the whole story in just an Instagram post or a quick Youtube video,” she told Mumbrella. “We find that clients want the blog post and the longer form video content because it provides the opportunity to really tell the whole story

“The client then wants that amplified across Instagram and Facebook and other channels to coax the viewer in.”

She said traffic to its 26 members has hit eight million, half of which access blog content with the remaining four million viewing content on other channels including Facebook, Instagram and, increasingly, Pinterest.

Nuffnang managing director Felicity Grey said its bloggers and social media go hand in hand and should not be split.

“Nuffnang’s Bloggerati talent group has a combined social media reach of over 5.5 million and while they are engaged by marketers for their blogging expertise, a large part of their influence is also via social media,” she said.

“Perhaps the survey question should not have differentiated social media influencers and bloggers as both groups use social media to reach and engage with an audience.”

Felcity Grey

Felcity Grey

Grey added that while social media is powerful for instant reach and engagement and to amplify blog content, it does “not have the lifespan and evergreen power that blog content does”.

“Nuffnang bloggers have been instrumental in helping big blue chip brands create content that continues to drive traffic and provide ROI, years after it is created,” she said.

Grey added that one blog post created by blogger Imogen Lamport from Inside Out Style Blog in 2013 remains one of her most read posts.

“The content is still very relevant to today’s consumer,” she said.

Steve Jones


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