The creator economy: 2022’s new teleshopping channels?

Don’t watch the next big thing happen from the sidelines. Hear from Russ Macumber, Impressive’s boots on the ground in Austin, Texas, on how brands can cash in on the creator economy.

When you think of a creator, you may think of a teenager filming a dance on TikTok in their parent’s basement. Or that friend you have who insists on taking photos of their food for Instagram.

But as I discovered at SXSW, that’s the old way of looking at them. And in today’s increasingly saturated media world, creators have evolved to be not just brand amplifiers, but genuine performance drivers in a full-funnel marketing strategy. Here’s why.

Parent’s basement or not, there are creators who now have followings to rival those of traditional media outlets. A session geared towards the Future of Content revealed 56% of people aged 13 to 17, and 53% of people aged 18 to 24, watch user created content as opposed to traditional studio content1. The shift is strong – and for anyone keeping an eye on the creator economy – it’s clear commerce is the next big frontier for this industry to cross.

Australia’s own Jules Lund, founder of influencer marketing agency Tribe, sat down at a SXSW panel to discuss just how brands can tap into the creator economy. He revealed the diversity and independence of creators is exactly what makes them an asset to brand and performance marketing, and one of their key appeals is the sense of authenticity they portray.

After all, most creators find success by finding a niche audience and answering a specific need. For those who are culturally or linguistically diverse, building an online community is often part of establishing a personal brand. This creates microcosms of hyper-engaged followers, who often feel a sense of responsibility to support their favourite creators. Connection and trust are two key tenets of the relationship between a creator and follower – sound familiar?

Brands and creators aren’t too dissimilar at all when it comes to the bottom line. They’re both trying to find new ways to engage their audience, but with new tools and approaches coming online it’s increasingly clear creators can now move past mere product recommendation and directly shift product.

They’re essentially becoming direct shopping channels themselves, and the big tech platforms are scrambling to add functionality to support this. The anticipation for TikTok Shop is sky high, and trial runs indicate creators are ready to take commerce into their own hands.

If you’re thinking they’re basically like the modern day version of those teleshopping channels you sometimes see when you’ve fallen asleep on the sofa with the TV on and wake up at 3am of old, you’re essentially correct. But the main difference is they’re reaching bigger audiences, in prime time, and leveraging their brands to help move merchandise.

Another SXSW panel, hosted by CEO of Zen Media, Shama Hyder, was dedicated to disproving common marketing lies. Hyder argues brands don’t need better products – they need more mental availability from their consumers.

This has often been the ignored link in performance marketing – building a brand worthy of occupying space in people’s imagination.

And it turns out creators already hold and capture the mental availability of massive audiences. Think of how many times you’ve been bored and decided to take a scroll through your favourite feeds – chances are you probably stopped to watch a video or two from a creator while doing so.

So brands that partner with creators not only benefit from the authenticity they carry, but also leverage that creator’s existing influence and presence in their audience’s minds. This eases the friction when it comes to commercial purchases – it becomes like buying from a friend.

Creators’ partnerships also provide another avenue for first-party data, a popular solution for a cookie-less future. This first party data can be used to create a more robust performance marketing strategy, which is particularly useful when it comes to direct to consumer shopping experiences.

And, in turn, can generate new audiences, purchases, and relationships; it’s a cycle that feeds back into itself.

Amongst all the trends parroted about SXSW, the rapid evolution of creators into media businesses was undoubtedly one of the most fascinating. It’s clear they’re poised for massive growth – and, done right, there’s real potential to fuel your brand’s growth too..

Sources: Consumer Technology Association, YouGov; Note: Survey fielded among 2,284 U.S. consumers aged 13+ between 10/26 and 11/9/2021; 13-17 “N”=107, 18-24=264, 25-34=460, 35-44=455, 45-54= 405, 55+=593; Q: In a typical week, how much time do you spend doing each of the following?

Russ Macumber

Russ Macumber, co-founder at performance marketing agency, Impress!ve USA


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