Part 1 in our 2018 Influencer Marketing & Relations Media playbook series

Today’s paid, earned and owned media landscape is increasingly complex and continues to fragment at a rapid pace, while increasingly dominated by three companies: Facebook, Google, Amazon.

It’s well known that the paid and owned media landscape is controlled by the walled gardens, but what’s lesser known is how they are increasing their control over Earned Media. The Washington Post is owned by Amazon. Information discovery and access to media is determined by Google and Facebook, in which content is prioritized based on its Google AMP optimization and even the slightest changes to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is enough to put publishers out of business.

What’s lesser known is how the walled gardens are now embracing forms of earned media – influencer marketing. Each platform is actively investing in its creator community and the competition is fierce to be creators’ platform of choice. As much as we’ve discussed Amazon’s influencer ecosystem, it’s far from achieving mainstream dominance – even Amazon advertises its influencer program on Instagram. Even with the launch of Facebook Watch and IGTV, YouTube remains the destination for video creators. And with the launch of in-app, shoppable content formats for creators, Instagram is getting closer to closing the commerce loop that Amazon has owned for decades. These companies not only command the media space, but also the emerging ones, as well, with new technologies and channels such as voice-assisted devices, augmented reality filters, and chat apps having growing impacts on consumers’ buying behaviors.

As shared in Nielsen’s 2018 CMO Report, marketers need more content, but with so many channels to consider, they can’t break the bank creating it. From one CMO: “I want my agencies to be much more cheap and cheerful. What I mean by that is I need more content than ever before, because I’ve got more channels that I’m communicating on than ever before. I can’t afford for that content to be at television prices…because there’s been so much technology that’s disrupted the world of production.”

So much so that it’s no longer constructive to plan based on “digital vs. traditional” or continue operating in those siloes, even as roles become more specialized around specific channels and devices. Digital and mobile media are seamless parts consumers’ decision journeys – whether that consumer is online, or not; a product is available online, or not; your internal teams are aligned, or not; and whether paid media is available, or not.

In this way, with volumes of quality content proven to inspire target audiences influencer marketing is the single strategy that can have the biggest impact on media planning and channel performance today. It’s no surprise that each of the power players dictating today’s media landscape are reliant on robust influencer marketing strategies – both in efforts to capture market share (Facebook vs. YouTube) and drive purchase decisions (Amazon).

PWC’s 2018 Global Consumer Insights survey found that 88% of consumers conduct research online prior to making a purchase in-store, with consumers ranking social networks as the number one source of inspiration for purchases. The convergence of mobile, media and e-commerce means that consumers are more empowered to make purchase decisions faster and smarter, without ever engaging a brand directly. While navigating between these experiences is second nature for consumers, the separation between creative and media has left most media strategists, planners and buyers siloed by specialty, with stretched budgets and cycles of underperforming creative optimization – with little time to collaboratively do more, or be more, in the way that the current state of media demands.

Today’s omnichannel landscape requires planners and buyers to do more at greater efficiencies than their creative counterparts — to be more strategic, creative, and innovative in how media plans integrate creative, channel, and targeting in the context of an intuitive customer experience. Media is tasked with solving for the irony that, at a time when consumers are engaging more content than ever, they are increasingly hard to reach, equipped with the technology and resources to be completely . ad-free.

The content consumers seek out to inspire, inform, and affirm their purchase decisions comes from other people like them, and the influencers they aspire to be. While ads are judged by image quality and relevance, influencer marketing and relations practitioners are uniquely able to help their media counterparts meet today’s omnichannel demands. In repurposing high performing influencer content across owned, paid, and earned media channels, influencer marketing and media practitioners together not only extend the life of media budgets but maximize incremental lift per channel.


Our 2018 Influencer Marketing & Relations Media playbook highlights and breaks down media planners, buyers, and channel owners’ biggest opportunities to put the potential of influencer-generated content (IGC)  to work for their brands.