RhythmOne (1R), the leading ad tech firm for cross-channel advertising at scale, announced the release of its third annual report on influencer marketing. The report, titled “Full Year 2016 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report”, offers an in-depth analysis of 70+ influencer programs ran by 1R in 2016. The report, like in its previous editions, aggregates key performance indicators across various industry categories – Earned Media Value (EVM), engagement and brand lift. The new report provides detailed analysis on the growing need to benchmark Social Media Listening and Cost-Per-Engagement (CPE) campaigns in 2017.
Most CMOs agree that Influencer marketing is a key engagement effort for social and B2B commerce. However, there exists a visible gap between influencer marketing campaigns and the ROI generated from them. With the new findings from the 1R report, marketers can make better decisions on CPE, EVM and Social Media Listening in 2017.
Highlights from the 2016 RhythmOne Influencer Marketing Report
Earned Media Value continues to be a key indicator of the efficacy and ROI of Influencer Marketing programs. On average in 2016, advertisers that implemented a 1R Influencer Marketing program received $11.69 in EMV for every $1.00 of spend. This is an increase of 4.4% over its full year 2015 EMV average of $11.20. Cost-Per-Engagement — a new measurement metric in this year’s report — was $0.93 across all products and programs.
CPE is increasingly becoming important to advertisers to gauge the value of capturing users’ attention across all social channels and interactions.
- Average spend on Influencer Marketing programs in 2016 was $51,324 per campaign
- 12% of the campaigns had an average spending of $100,000 or more on Influencer Marketing programs; 67% campaigns were executed with a budget of less than $49,000
- Retail, Education and Software & Services were the top three categories with highest average campaign spending on Influencer marketing platforms
- CPG Food and software advertising featured at the top of paid and unpaid influencer marketing programs
- Of the 18 verticals analyzed in 2016, the top three EMV “performers” were Health and Pharmaceuticals ($21.25), Retail ($18.20) and CPG Food ($14.76)
- Engagement Rate (“ER”) across all products and programs was 2.01% on average — a rise of 33% over the full year 2015 benchmark of 1.50%
- Advertisers that ran an Influencer Marketing program for two or more weeks saw on average an increase of 14.78% in brand mentions and an 8.73% increase in positive brand sentiment (vs. mentions and sentiment prior to the campaign flight)
- Instagram — via rich video and imagery created by RhythmInfluence influencers — proved to be a top-performing channel for driving engagements for several advertiser categories, and the engagements contributed to measured lifts in brand mentions.
- Snapchat was effective for campaigns that targeted audiences of Millennials
- About one-quarter (23%) of the 51 unique brands included experiential tactics and/or live events as part of their Influencer Marketing program(s), and 38% included giveaways or sweepstakes. These efforts generally drove higher engagement rates and EMV returns vs. programs that did not include these components
Performance of Influencer Marketing Campaigns
Influencer Marketing continues to gain momentum with advertisers looking to authentically engage with consumers. It has moved well beyond the sponsored blog post — expanding into channel-specific content and incorporating experiential elements like live events, sweepstakes, and giveaways. Moreover, progressive Influencer marketing programs work in close concert with paid media — especially programmatic branded content distribution — to move beyond the walled gardens of social media as advertisers seek to target look-alike audiences to gain broader distribution and engagement with their branded content.
Sponsored Blog Posts
19% of 1R Influencer Marketing campaigns in 2016 featured a sponsored blog post component, pairing advertisers with hand-selected influencers who develop, distribute and publish promotional contents.
Selected influencers promote Sponsored Blog across social media accounts, including Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on. Social amplification improved with sponsored posts in influencer marketing.
Increased awareness about influencer marketing led 1R to experiment with –
Nearly 27% of the 1R campaigns featured Social Fire posts, activated by additional tier of influencers who created their own social media content firing the original branded content.
Running Social Fire components as part of advertisers’ Influencer Marketing programs improve the brand reach and engagement of the sponsored blog posts.
One of the latest trends that RhythmOne leveraged in their influencer marketing campaigns is Programmatic. The inclusion of programmatic-enabled the advertisers to send branded content across omnichannel platforms, serving directly to look-alike audiences at a massive scale allowing deeper engagement at much-reduced cost-per-engagement.
“An increase in Influencer Marketing investment has been met with a corresponding need for accountability and better success measurement,” noted Chuck Moran, VP of Marketing, RhythmOne. “As such, RhythmOne enhanced its reporting over the course of the year, and now provides information on cost-per-engagement and brand lift. These are two ways RhythmOne is helping marketers quantify the value of engaged consumers and accurately assess the impact of Influencer Marketing programs.”
“This year’s Benchmarks Report results serve to reinforce the power of Influencer Marketing as a critical component of our clients’ marketing plans,” said Katie Paulsen, VP of Influencer Marketing, RhythmOne.
“The increased budgets we saw this year signaled a clear move beyond experimentation. We also saw new categories start to spend on influencer marketing, as well as a broader range of creative execution and distribution tactics. Influencer Marketing has truly come into its own as a powerful means to tap into the enthusiasm and brand loyalty shared amongst influencer community members.”
Lessons from RhythmOne Report for Marketers
1R’s Full Year 2016 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report is the barometer for Influencer Marketing in 2017. As CMOs are looking to erect parallel brand engagement model on Social and B2B Commerce, Influencer marketing is a key strategy that can’t be ignored anymore.
Where and how to apply Influencer marketing in 2017?
A quick 10-second read –
- CMOs should align their marketing automation stack to include the cross-channel influence and audience engagement metrics for data-driven, transparent and powerful brand identity.
- Focus on Earned Media Value – Leverage Right set of Influencers for every channel of engagement, delivering authentic, relevant and conversable content to your audiences.
- Customization is the core of Influencer marketing – Embrace the power of “out-of-box” creativity to engage more audience on mobile, social and apps.
- Programmatic Influencer marketing – Introduce branded content to move beyond the social media and reach more audiences with programmatic options for video, audio, and other media content.
- Leverage different social platforms for various branded content. Sponsored blog run best across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
- Precision targeting will be the key metric in delivering right content with the right message at the right time to the right audience. Gender-specific, tech-based content do better than other sponsored content.
The way forward in 2017
Brand marketers are eager to partner influencers for brand promotion. Nearly 50% of all marketers agree that influencer marketing budget will get a big raise in 2017. More appealingly, influencer marketing is the safest strategy to bypass the recent ad blocking. As more mobile users opt for ad blocking features, marketers would be forced to leverage influencer marketing’s benefits in tandem with programmatic.
For enchanting engagement around the brand, Influencer Marketing, of course, will see a rampant adoption rate in most social media marketing and advertising campaigns in 2017.