When Google reported that seven out of ten millennials relate more to YouTube influencers than traditional celebrities, they were foreshadowing the rise of Influencer Marketing. In the past two years, Influencer Marketing has become the fastest-growing customer acquisition method for brands. But in order to make the biggest splash, it’s best to think in terms of influencers as content producers rather than content distributors. Buying media against influencer audiences, instead of relying solely on the influencer’s reach, gives advertisers control and a versatile menu of targeting options.
Yet, with all of the growth in interest, this month, the Video Advertising Bureau recommended that brands stay away from influencer and UGC content on YouTube if they want to avoid brand safety risks. This warning is akin to saying that in order to avoid risks while driving, it’s best to wear a helmet. Most of YouTube is influencer content, and these influencers deliver millions of quality video views every day, with brands increasing spend every month, and it’s actually the thousands of smaller influencers can be most valuable.
Be Smart About Selecting Influencer Partners
Major brands can work with the biggest influencers like Dude Perfect to organically reach 20 million viewers that represent well-known demographic audiences like “millennial males.’ But, a lot of the biggest influencers are guilty of padding their viewership with purchased traffic, and even the world’s most popular influencer has made controversial content.
Yet, further down the list of influencers, brands fret. They won’t have to if they follow a few best practices.
Brands should vet influencers based on their past content, and ask if the influencer will allow them to repurpose a sponsored video, edit it and even create advertising with it, in order to add significantly more scale. Unbox Therapy creates simple (inexpensive and easy to produce) videos that feature new technology products. This one about a speaker has more than 3 million views and is a great example of content that is well attuned to a brand’s advertising strategy.
And while YouTube’s insights about influencers’ audiences are limited, advertisers can gain intelligence from influencers such as deeper channel audience demographic data, historical campaign performance data against specific influencers, their channels and videos within particular industry sectors and consumer product spaces.
Be Crafty With Creative Options
The beauty of many influencer-produced videos is that they create authentic, inexpensive content that brands can then use as highly effective advertising. Media buyers can test the effectiveness of pre-, mid- or post-roll edits of the video, and supplement the skippable full version of a commercial with six-second bumper ad edits. The best plan creatively pairs a bumper with fifteen and thirty-second edits to tell a story throughout a viewer’s experience.
While showing an in-house produced ad five times in a viewing session might frustrate or numb a viewer, with an influencer-based content ad, creative pairing of ad lengths and formats gives the impression of a more established brand/influencer partnership than what would be accomplished with just one video in one length format.
Chinese smartphone company Honor works with YouTube shows like TLD to introduce its products to an American audience with content that is much more engaging and approachable than a typical advertisement.
Mine The Influencer’s Ecosystem
Even an influencer with a few million followers won’t reach all of them for every video. In order to increase the impact, brands can place media deeper in an influencers ecosystem, and retarget the influencer’s viewers across other parts of the internet.
It’s likely that the influencer is a great self-promoter on other channels, like Twitter and Instagram. Many influencers are pros at repurposing video content for Instagram Stories, and can even tag products in the video to link to a retail page.
Good influencers are just like any traditional publisher. They want to build their business, so they create good content, share audience data, and welcome collaboration with brands. With the right influencer approach, combined with carefully planned media buying, brands can get a big impact even from smaller influencers.