TechBytes with Chris Bower, VP of Brand Partnerships at Fullscreen

TechBytes with Chris Bower, VP of Brand Partnerships at Fullscree
TechBytes with Chris Bower, VP of Brand Partnerships at Fullscree

Tell us about your role and the team/technology you handle at Fullscreen.

As the VP of Brand Partnerships within the Fullscreen Brand Studio, I lead a team of branded content experts. We collaborate very closely with our integrated marketing, activations, and talent teams to deliver strategic, fully-immersive, and creative content programs for our clients such as Best Buy, MARS, P&G, HP, Mattel, and AT&T.

In developing our programs, our teams utilize a suite of technology tools that enable us to:

  • Discover more about audiences and how they consume content
  • Strategically discover and source talent
  • Identify talents’ potential effectiveness in a content program
  • Measure the effectiveness of our content programs and specifically identify how our programs deliver the Sales ROI that so many of our clients seek

What is the most exciting part of being in the Marketing industry?

At Fullscreen, we have the opportunity to blend art and science in order to create data-driven storytelling that is specifically tailored to a client’s audience. It’s the perfect fusion of right brain and left brain that makes our work really stimulating – and drives results. More brands are realizing the power of social media to develop meaningful connections with consumers, and we are at the forefront of helping them create relevant, cross-platform storytelling. It’s extremely exciting to help brands navigate new opportunities seen through emerging platforms, tools, and technologies. We help brands authentically connect wherever their audience is spending time.

Tell us how Influencer Marketing is becoming a core aspect of Brand Marketing.

Brands are understanding the immense value seen by engaging creators. We conducted research into the actual influence that creators wield, finding that they are driving trust and purchase intent among consumers. Roughly 37% of individuals aged 18-34 say they’re more likely to trust brands after being exposed to sponsored posts from influencers. Around 42% of people exposed to branded content from influencers reported trying a product or service those influencers recommended, while 26% said they actually made a purchase.

What is the current state of Influencer Marketing?

The current state of Influencer Marketing is in constant evolution, which is really exciting to us at Fullscreen. The industry is still very much in the early stages of leveraging this category of Marketing and we’ve only just begun to see its potential. Brands are figuring out how to engage with creators in a way that resonates with the consumer, while still remaining relevant for the brand. We’re also starting to see how technology further enhances the Influencer Marketing campaign process and, most significantly, the measurement of such campaigns.

Tell us about the various ways brands can plan their Influencer budget, and achieve ROI.

As Influencer Marketing has evolved over the last five years, the ways brands can implement their Influencer Marketing campaigns vary wildly, but the key to budget planning and delivering ROI is strategically thinking beyond the standard influencer social post. Hiring an influencer to promote your product through an Instagram post only goes so far – and that typically means spending more money with limited ROI. In order to implement a successful campaign, brands must develop meaningful ongoing relationships with targeted influencers – and move beyond the one-time transactional mindset.

Brands must also embrace what we have defined as a new future-proof model of Influencer Marketing, in which brands have the opportunity to actually BECOME the influencer. This new model sees the brand’s influence pull the consumer through the funnel, shortening the cycles of awareness, consideration, and intent to drive purchase, and developing brand loyalty and advocacy much faster.

This combination of influencer partnerships and brands becoming influencers themselves is what we know results in the ROI brands seek and ultimately builds the long-term customer relationship brands desire.

How does Influencer fraud impact brands? What technologies are available to detect these fraudulent behavior/practices?

The rise of influencer fraud — when creators pay for fake social media followers or bots that increase their engagement numbers — has created suspicion around Influencer Marketing for brands. In fact, a new report shows that influencer fraud is costing advertisers $1.3 billion this year alone. While not a new problem, fake followers and bots are increasingly becoming a thorn in the side of brands and advertisers, who are dishing out dollars to influencers whose influence might be overstated.

To date, brands have utilized half measures to combat the problem of follower fraud. They have typically vetted creators with simple vanity metrics such as followers, likes, and engagement rates. However, metrics can be easily manipulated, and they often don’t tell the whole story. Many creator fraud prevention tools in the market analyze only single social platforms, rather than providing analysis on all four major social platforms in a single dashboard. Taking a multi-channel, data-first approach provides a more conclusive, effective method for evaluating audience integrity.

As a leader in Influencer Marketing, Fullscreen understands how detrimental influencer fraud can be to brand and agency campaigns, and in July 2018, teamed up with CreatorIQ and its Creator Integrity Quotient offering — a state-of-the-art reporting system that analyzes key data points across a creator’s top social platforms and flags suspicious patterns of activity – to effectively evaluate influencer integrity.

Fullscreen pairs its industry-leading expertise with CreatorIQ’s Creator Integrity Quotient to vet talent and ensure the integrity of both in-network and out-of-network creators. Brands working with Fullscreen are assured that after a tool-assisted, in-depth human analysis, their Influencer Marketing investment will reach a legitimate and verified audience.

Tell us about the opportunities and challenges in engaging Millennial and Gen Z audience with Influencers.

In order to reach fans in the context of their lives (i.e. their social feeds) and drive real impact, brands need to navigate the nuances of the influencer landscape to ensure they partner with the right influencers on the right platforms for their target audience. The ways Gen Z and Millennials interact with influencers and brands are very different.

In a proprietary study, we found that Gen Z (age 18-24) are more likely to trust influencer posts (54.8%) than Millennials aged 25-34 (36.5%). However, this older demographic is more likely to trust what an influencer says about a brand (44.3%) than what a brand says about itself (20.8%). We also discovered that roughly 42% of people exposed to branded content from influencers reported trying a product or service those influencers recommended, while 26% said they actually made a purchase.

Gen Z, in particular, were more likely to make a purchase at 47.6% compared to Millennials at 26.3%. Importantly, nearly one-third of those who followed an influencer reported making a purchase after being exposed to sponsored content.

Further, as brands have been trying in vain to truly measure the ROI from social content campaigns, we partnered with Shareablee and IRI Lift™ to pilot a product that identifies the link between social Branded Content and Sales. This first-of-its-kind study gave CMOs the proof needed to move forward boldly with branded social engagement, knowing that it does indeed lead to higher sales ROI when looking at both offline and online behavior. Knowing where your target audience lives and how to reach them in a way that results in a positive ROI is critically important when engaging with Millennial and Gen Z audiences.

How to evaluate audience and influencer integrity?

Consumers are seeking and following brands and influencers that are genuine and real. Common ways to evaluate integrity include:

  • Follower Growth. How quickly has the creator’s audience grown? Did the growth follow normal patterns? Are growth spikes accompanied by the expected natural spikes in engagement?
  • Audience Location Percentage. Where is the creator’s audience based? Is that distribution normal for creators in the same region?
  • Engagement Rate. How does the creator’s rate of likes and comments compare to the expected rates for a particular social network?

It is important to look at influencer integrity holistically and consider what is most important to your target audience. There are no shortcuts when it comes to growing your follower base, and only those who stay true to themselves (and their followers) will come out on top.

How Influencer marketers can get strategic about what tech they do adopt to get the most bang for their buck?

Continuously evaluate data-driven insights on a weekly (or daily) basis. Marketers who plan a campaign and only review the ROI at the end of the campaign – whether one week, one month or one year – will miss out on valuable audience insights that will inform them about both the creative and the technology they are using. Being able to adapt and react quickly to data-driven insights will put brands ahead.

As Vice President of Brand Partnerships, Chris leads Fullscreen’s branded content, original entertainment, and influencer marketing partnerships practice. His team builds bespoke content programs that deliver groundbreaking creative and drive significant sales for brand partners such as AT&T, Best Buy, HP, P&G and dozens more.

fullscreen logo

Fullscreen is a leader in social-first entertainment experiences, serving talent and brands through creative, strategy, and marketing that enables growth, engagement, and monetization of their audiences.

Its unique clientele includes over 400 brands and over 2,500 creators and celebrities that generate more than 7 billion monthly video views across a global network of social channels. Serving a broad range of clients from offices in Los Angeles and New York and with team members across the country, Fullscreen is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Otter Media, a WarnerMedia company.

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