Fasten Your Seat Belt: Influencer Marketing Will Dominate Ad Budgets by 2020

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please return to your seat and fasten your seat belt.” 

For those of us working in digital marketing, it’s time we consider buckling up too.Since 2013, influencer marketing has hit the runway with many of the top brands in the U.S. relying on this marketing tactic to create word-of-mouth awareness around hundreds of thousands of products and services.

Welcome to IMS flight 2020 

In 2013, I managed an influencer marketing program for a publicly traded company in Arizona. Back then, most advertising budgets were newly focused on display advertising while influencer marketing was new and unproven. My colleague, Cristine Vieira, and I had some early success with influencer marketing campaigns, primarily with bloggers, and wanted to scale by leveraging technology. Unfortunately, we couldn’t identify an existing technology to meet our needs. So, we decided to build our own.

We launched Find Your Influence in 2013 and were quickly able to create a network of influencers who were looking to connect with brands appealing directly to their followers. Today our influencer platform includes a community of influencers exceeding 100,000, an attractive quality to some of the largest household brands.

Over the past five years, we’ve been fortunate to be a part of the takeoff of successful influencer marketing solutions (IMS). However, this industry has not yet reached its cruising altitude. What’s coming in the next two years will, however, allow brands to scale and reach greater heights. 

In 2017, ChiefMarketer.comcited a study by ANA and PQ Media showing that brand spending on influencer marketing is expected to reach $101 billion by 2020, a 25 percent increase over 2016. While advertising budgets themselves aren’t growing, the influx of dollars toward influencer marketing will be shifting from traditional media advertising: television, radio and print to influencer-driven campaigns. 

It’s also interesting to note how advertisers are responding to this relatively new tactic. According to findings from a 2018 survey by the Association of National Advertisers, “Advertisers love influencer marketing.” The report further explains “…a full 75 percent of their companies currently employ the discipline and 43 percent are planning to increase spending over the course of the next 12 months.” Seeing this type of growth already planned proves that we are on the edge of something special. 

Your life vest is located under your seat  

As brands begin investing more dollars into this marketing channel, the influencer community will begin to look like the TSA line at an international airport – – countless people trying to make their way through the process. The number of influencers available to brands has not reached its full potential either. Everyday there are hundreds of fresh voices trying to become the newest large-scale influencers.  

Influencer reach is the first-class ticket for a brand. Everyone thinks that being an influencer is an easy gig, when in reality, it’s really quite hard. These influencers must focus a significant amount of time on establishing their brand, keeping up with relevant content and building a follower base. As far as engagement, they either have it or they don’t. 

I’m often asked what brands are really looking for from influencer marketing. The answer is simple: brands today are trying to target the 12-35 age range. They can do this through many advertising channels, but most efficiently through influencer marketing. Influencers will be getting younger as brands demand to reach these younger audiences. 

With the shift in ad dollars leaning more heavily on influencer marketing, how do you know if your brand is ready for influencer marketing? Start with these five questions. 

  • What is the level of brand awareness for your product or service? 
  • Are you reaching your target audience four or five times with the same campaign? 
  • Which marketing channels are underperforming for your brand? 
  • Are you ready to amplify your message across social media? 
  • With a low cost to entry, isn’t word-of-mouth advertising (influencer marketing) worth beta testing to start? 

Please take a few moments to locate your nearest exit

A recent Forbes piece opened with, “Influencer marketing is having a moment right now.” Sure, you could call it a moment. However, it could be more aptly described by flight control that influencer marketing has been cleared for takeoff.  

A recent report by Forrester, “New Tech: Influencer Marketing Solutions, Q3 2018” looked closely at 34 influencer marketing solutions, yet noted that there are nearly 100 vendors in the space.  A market so large can’t thrive but will begin to consolidate in a similar fashion to how digital technology solutions have consolidated over the last decade. Display advertising was the perfect example of there being 100 different companies and over time, they all began consolidating and becoming larger media companies together.  

Consolidation is the next destination on the IMS journey when you look at the global financing history. CB Insights shows funding peaked in 2015 with 45 deals netting $169 million. While the number of individual deals peaked in 2016, funding has continued to decline year over year, proving success with those solutions that continue to meet the needs of large brands. 

Sit back, relax and enjoy the flight

If we look to 2020 as the point we reach cruising altitude with greater demand and a larger community of influencers, we will then shift our focus to the horizon. To avoid turbulence for your brand or to avoid getting lost in the inevitable jet stream of your competitors, request a demo of the Find Your Influence platform today. 

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