November 5, 2019: The future of influencer-to-consumer brands; Facebook’s Q3 2019 earnings report; Pinterest stock drops; Adobe’s Premiere Rush now publishes to TikTok; Implicit bias in influencer marketing
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Are Influencer-to-Consumer Brands the Future of Brand Building?
With the influencer marketing industry projected to be worth up to $15 billion in 2022, influencers are increasingly leveraging their online presence, rich knowledge, and subject-matter expertise to create the next generation of brands: influencer-to-consumer (ITC).
Back up, what’s an influencer-to-consumer brand?
An ITC brand refers to the selling of products and services directly between influencers and consumers. While retail partners can help to expand influencers’ distribution, this is secondary to influencers’ own direct-to-consumer channels (think: Glossier).
Notably, an ITC brand differs from a collection, which is an exclusive, limited-time product or offering between an influencer and brand in which the influencer acts as a creative or design lead on a product or service available exclusively through a brand or retail partner (think: Nordstrom x SomethingNavy).
What do we know about these brands?
ITC brands began popping up across a variety of industries in 2012, with the launch of companies like EmFitChallenge, Wildflower Cases, and Suja. Glossier, founded in 2014, is arguably the most well-known of the category, likely due to its ability to achieve unicorn status in four short years, bringing in more than $100 million in annual revenue in 2018 and marking its fourth consecutive year achieving triple-digit growth.
As the number of popular influencers who are building multi-million – and even billion-dollar – businesses of their own continues to grow, brands have new ways to partner with influencers. Where brands can offer benefits to influencers is in their access to resources, business knowledge/acumen, and most of all, experience.
For the majority of influencers launching their own brands, this is the first time they’ve ventured into the space. Whereas influencers already have the engaged audiences and, oftentimes, have already developed an overarching marketing strategy, brands can offer unique support because they’ve already done a lot of the things that influencers will have to do in order to successfully run businesses. Brands have the opportunity to host internal workshops, incubators, AMAs, and more to help steer influencers in the right direction.
Interested in learning more about the influencer-to-consumer space? Check out our 2019 Influencer-to-Consumer Brands Index Report where we lay out the current state of the influencer economy, rank the top 25 ITC brands, and outline emerging trends among those ITC brands.
Facebook’s Q3 2019 Earnings Call: The TLDR
Despite dealing with what seems to be an always-on PR crisis, Facebook earnings have, once again, beat analysts’ expectations, showing steady Q3 2019 growth.
On the heels of Zuckerberg’s controversial testimonial in front of Congress defending Facebook’s political ads policy, his social media platform posted another better-than-expected earnings call, with ad revenue and net income exceeding analysts’ estimates with $6 billion in profit on $17.7 million in sales. Arguably most notable, however, was Facebook’s active user-count growth, with its DAU up nine percent to 1.62 billion and its MAU up eight percent to 2.45 billion.
New quarter, new FACEBOOK?
Not quite, but it did change its logo. On Monday, Facebook unveiled a new logo that’s meant to represent the parent company that owns Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more. The biggest difference? The all-caps typeface, reading FACEBOOK, that changes color to match its context (i.e., purple on Instagram, green on WhatsApp).
Is any scandal big enough to affect Facebook’s bottom line? Based on the platform’s Q3 earnings, it would certainly appear not. However, it sure is enough for Twitter to throw some shade. Just minutes before Facebook’s long-awaited third-quarter earnings, CEO Jack Dorsey announced that his social network will ban political advertising starting in November to “focus our efforts on the root problems, without the additional burden and complexity taking money brings.” Tbh, even banning political ads wasn’t enough for Twitter to steal the show.
As for Facebook, with the 2020 election ahead, Zuckerberg, somewhat shockingly, also noted that political ads will only represent 0.5% of Facebook’s total revenue next year. With the amount of controversy, dollars, time, and stress that Zuckerberg has faced defending his decision to allow political ads on the platform, it begs the question: at what cost? For less than a point of Facebook’s total ad revenue? Literally WTF.
Pinterest Stock Drops As it Releases New Features
Uh oh. Go on.
While Pinterest’s stock is up from its IPO, the company has lost almost one-third of its value. Additionally, it missed some key forecasts across several metrics including revenue, earning $279.7 million vs $280.6 million as forecasted by Refinitiv. It also reported a net loss of $124.7 million after its expenses almost doubled to $413.4 million.
It’s not all bad. Sales grew 47 percent, topping Facebook and Google’s growth of 25 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
How is Pinterest responding?
The site announced its “fresh new look” last Friday, which allows users to experience a cleaner display with less space around Pins to “celebrate content.” Updated features include:
- Moving search to a navigation bar for easier access;
- Moving the Following tab to the news feed and reformatting it to chronological order;
- Suggestions for Boards that users have most recently engaged with; and
- Updated profile and Board views enabling users to find saved Pins easier.
Personalization and relevance for the purpose of creating a unique and curated platform experience remain front and center for Pinterest. It will be interesting if this increases the amount of time that users spend on the site and in the app, and overall ad load as the reformatting also notably leaves more space for potential ads as it lessens white space to focus on content.
This would be part of the solution to turn around the stock drop as these changes should (hopefully) lead to an increase in overall revenue and share price.
You Can Now Publish Directly to TikTok through Adobe’s Premiere Rush
Tell me about it.
Adobe’s Premiere Rush app has always been a resource for creators to seamlessly publish professional-quality content across many platforms. The app’s ease of use and functionality also enables those who don’t create for a living to quickly edit and share content within their networks. Now, with the app’s integration with TikTok, users gain access to quintessential platform tropes such as auto-ducking, transitions and color filters, time lapse, and slo-mo.
In Adobe’s announcement, it noted that “speed, ease, and sharability” were the top necessities for video creators. Adding yet another platform’s long list of integrations will only feed more into these needs. Also notable: Adobe has become the first third-party app that can publish directly to TikTok, highlighting that companies that usually prioritize established platforms are adopting TikTok as a valid avenue for content creation.
With creator content central to fueling the social media ecosystem, leading platforms continue to release new features, aiding in the democratization of content creation and giving even those who aren’t creatively inclined the ability to create. For TikTok, the integration with Adobe allows for the creation of higher quality content from creators (and non-creators), which results in more time spent consuming content on the platform.
Implicit Bias in Influencer Marketing Exists. Why Don’t We Change That?
In what way?
While diversity and inclusion are terms most often associated with organizational efforts around hiring, the problem extends to influencer marketing. TLDR; sometimes Instagram feeds and influencer marketing campaigns aren’t representative of the markets that they serve. As platforms such as Youtube receive backlash over recommending and promoting predominantly white influencers, marketers, too, have the opportunity to evaluate the influencers that they work with to determine if their partnerships are truly representative or if they give in to the inherent majority.
Marketers are the gatekeepers to issues of diversity and inclusion and, in the influencer marketing industry, this can be seen in the hands-on nature of influencer selection for campaigns. As marketers, we are all personally responsible for acknowledging implicit biases in our practices and taking a close look to make sure they are eliminated.
With 2020 planning well underway, brands have the opportunity to take a stand and make diversity and inclusion a priority among their influencer marketing mix next year. This shouldn’t just be something talked about in articles and meetings; it should be mandated in the brief, with actionable steps and willingness to lead true change around this area of the industry.