Why influencers have divided the media and marketing industry

Influencer marketing continues to divide marketers and followers alike. CEO of Hoozu, Nathan Ruff, takes a look at where the criticism is coming from and what’s driving it.

I enjoy the cut and thrust of a good marketing conversation just as much as the next person. There’s nothing like dissecting the merits and misses of a good or bad creative strategy, or media plan, especially over a nice bottle of red. The trending conversation of late and ongoing question I’m still trying to figure out is: “why is influencer marketing so maligned?”

Over the last few months, the uproar surrounding government mandating, bashing by shock jocks, and tabloid newspaper headlines hasn’t deterred growth or brand activity from advertisers. But it has caused confusion for brands, influencers and the media partners we work with.

Photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash

Journalists and publishers

Blanketed bashing of the sector is wrong, but not unexpected. Media outlets take the moral high ground, judging influencers as sell-outs and self-serving fakes who lack editorial control. It feels a little hypocritical coming from an industry that introduced the world to bots, click bait and native advertising. However, publishing is a highly competitive market and newsrooms aren’t cheap to run. I understand you’re all a little annoyed having those little fit upstarts called “influencers” syphoning ad revenue from your depleting coffers.

For the past 24 months, influencer marketers have been labelled the problem, with the cries for transparency getting louder and louder. The accusatory tone has burdened the reputation of the majority of brand advocates doing the right thing. The attack is obsolete given there are products available and businesses in market that can easily qualify, quantify, authenticate, and analyse an influencer’s audience, content profile, and content performance.

Nearly all the influencers we work with are now contractually required to deliver on minimum benchmarks such as sales, leads and views. Additionally, Facebook has been leading the charge in reducing questionable behaviour and applying strict guidelines to deter anyone trying to cheat. Lastly, this is ultimately enforced by paying advertisers who expect an ROI, or they will not continue to use the form or book the influencers again.


The Australian advertising industry baffles me at the best of times. There seems to be a very conservative approach and status quo to avoid new formats until all old forms have completely failed.

Influencer marketing is undeniably an important part of the marketing mix for our brands. Influencers understand that social media is how their customers ingest information, communicate and research purchasing decisions.

Social audiences follow like-minded people and are interested in the style and type of content they produce, some of which is branded. It also avoids ad blocking, capitalises on two-way communication, uncovers sale generating advocates, and when done right adds genuine value through authentic and entertaining content.

So why all the hate?

I understand there will always a push back when new players join the game. I appreciate the view and perspectives from all camps. I’ve seen multiple advertising forms come and go – all of which were going to be the next big thing – but I’ve never seen a format that has been so polarising.

Nathan Ruff is CEO of influencer agency, Hoozu.


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