Interview with Ryan Detert, CEO, Influential
On Marketing Technology
MTS: Tell us about your role at Influential? What inspired you to be part of an influencer marketplace?
I am the CEO and founder of Influential. I was inspired to start the company because I was an influencer myself and saw a hole in the marketplace for a data-driven solution to influencer marketing. Several years ago, I had over 30M followers on Twitter and Instagram. I wasn’t personally well known or famous, so to speak, but what I had built are called niche accounts, like @Travel, @Automotive, and @FashionAndStyle. I was building these accounts and growing the followings very rapidly and quickly learned that I could monetize them, but found that without transparent data, brand safety, and technology, brands wouldn’t spend significant budgets.
MTS: How do AI-enabled technologies impact influencer marketing campaigns?
AI-enabled technologies have revolutionized influencer marketing campaigns and are a key element of what has made us a leader in the influencer marketing space. Influential is the only influencer marketing Developer Partner for IBM Watson. While we currently use 3 different APIs from IBM Watson, the primary one we use is called Personality Insights (PI). PI taps into the Big 5 Personality Traits, a century old theory that posits that all humans are made of 47 key traits, like “extroversion,” “openness,” and “self-expression.” The AI reads the last 22,000 pieces of content on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and analyzes the words, syntax, and even symbols, like emojis, and on a scale of 1-100, indexes the influencer’s traits. We do the same thing with the brand’s social handle and match the influencer and brand, based on high-indexing traits. Through this process we’ve seen, on average, a 30% lift in the influencers engagement on FTC compliant posts (#Ad or #Sponsored) versus the influencers native, non-paid post.
MTS: What are the core tenets of leveraging influencer marketing tools for better targeting and sales ROI?
For us, the core tenets are our 3-pronged approach of demographic, contextual, and psychographic targeting. In terms of demographics, we’re looking at elements like age, gender, geographic location, and affinities of our influencers. Next, we’re looking to see if there’s a contextual match- meaning, does the influencer talk about the brand or relevant proxies in their organic posts? Lastly, we use personality traits to find the perfect match, psychographically, between influencers and brands.
MTS: How are you preparing for a post-GDPR era?
We are still working through how the regulation will impact all areas of our business and our anticipated growth in 2018, to ensure that we will be in full compliance and, with any luck, ahead of the game, come May.
MTS: How do you see influencer marketplaces coping with the tightened brand safety and
I can’t really speak for others, but as far as Influential is concerned, brand safety and transparency have always been paramount to our company, so it’s not like we’ve had to change our ways or backtrack on previous methodologies. Using #ad and #sponsored is something we’ve done since the beginning. In addition, one of the first things we did as a company was creating a brand-safe gateway, where we wouldn’t allow influencers to release a post on their social channels until there was a double opt-in by both the influencer and the brand.
MTS: What startups in the martech ecosystem are you watching/keen on right now?
We work with 10+ data vendors in our technology stack, all with unique offerings, and we watch them and their peers closely.
MTS: What tools does your marketing stack consist of in 2017?
Our product assists with influencer selection, content creation/execution, optimization, and reporting. We also have vetting tools that assign MPAA ratings for influencers, we use visual recognition to identify brands, and we can even search for DUIs and felonies.
MTS: Would you tell us about your standout digital campaign?
We recently completed a great campaign with Hyundai, which was featured in Adweek, alongside the CMO of Hyundai, Dean Evans. Our target audience was adults, 30-55 years old, in the US. Unbelievably, the campaign had 100% positive sentiment, which is extremely rare. We also had multiple influencers, who participated in the campaign, that had higher engagement on these FTC-compliant posts than some of their own native, non-sponsored posts.
MTS: How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
AI is going to be affecting and improving so many aspects of our life, in the near future, and as someone who is at the forefront of it within my own industry, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be invited to speak at conferences around the world about it. I think that people need to be open-minded about it and not believe that it is going to become Skynet from the Terminator movies. AI is here to stay and people should embrace it. We like to say that AI is actually augmented intelligence and we believe that the best results come when machine learning combines with human perception.
This is How I Work
MTS: One word that best describes how you work.
MTS: What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
Uber, Postmates, and Coinbase
MTS: What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?
Sneaking off after my fiancé goes to bed to set up emails to be fired off early the next morning even before I wipe the crust from my eyes.
MTS: What are you currently reading? (What do you read, and how do you consume information?)
Twitter, at 280 characters it’s become a novel.
MTS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
“Be like water” – Bruce Lee
MTS: Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
Elon Musk. If anyone is attuned to AI, he’s the man.
MTS: Thank you Ryan! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Ryan is the CEO of Influential, A.I. influencer technology that matches brand and ad agencies to influencers through transparent data and machine learning. Influential is one of 6 IBM “With Watson” partners, the only partner for Influencer Marketing. He was originally an influencer himself, with more than 30 million followers, across Twitter and Instagram.
Influential is an A.I. influencer technology and developer partner of IBM Watson. Influential’s patent-pending app is on the hip pocket of more than 17,000 of the most highly engaged influencers on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube, reaching over 5 billion users. Brands and agencies are able to make a digital media buy on social via Influential’s in-demo impression guarantee, which mirrors traditional and digital media spends. Influential conducts all campaigns through a brand-safe vetting process and provides robust reporting via 3rd party analytics partners. Influential and IBM Watson have also co-created technologies that allow brands and agencies to identify psychographic data on influencers, as well as three first-to-market A.I. products. Influential runs campaigns for Fortune 100 companies including Coca-Cola Company, Nestlé, General Mills, Kia Motors, Fox TV, Sony Pictures and more. Influential has offices in Beverly Hills, New York City, and Las Vegas.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.