April 21, 2020: Influencer marketing headlines weekly roundup; Instagram wants to move Lives to IGTV; YouTube tweaks Measurement Program
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Influencer Marketing Industry Weekly Round Up: What You Need to Know
Another week, another slew of sensationalist, clickbait headlines that the influencer marketing industry is done for. Spoiler alert: it’s not — and here’s why.
TLDR; influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere. Influencer marketing, like virtually every other industry, is evolving due to the physical, psychological and economic impacts of COVID-19.
What’s changing for brands?
As of March, eMarketer found that about a third of influencers were already seeing fewer collaborations. What wasn’t mentioned, however, was that according to the IAB, digital ad spend is also down 33%. It’s no coincidence that those two numbers would correlate as marketers pull back on marketing and advertising dollars in general.
With less budget, the majority of brands are not stopping influencer marketing altogether, but are readjusting to the current circumstances by leaning into #CreateForGood campaign themes and messaging and other lower budget methods, like crowdsourcing UGC or leaning into ratings and reviews.
… and influencers?
For influencers, what’s changing isn’t necessarily a lack of consumer trust or opportunities from brands, but instead are the circumstances in which they are doing their jobs. Now, more than ever before, people are tuning in and, as such, it’s even more important for influencers to adapt to the new world we’re living in.
Just like brands are having to rethink their messaging and positioning, influencers are doing the same. Largely spearheaded by Chiara Ferragni and her husband who raised a staggering €3 million to help fight the coronavirus pandemic in Italy, we’ve since seen countless other influencers follow suit, like fashion-influencer-turned-entrepreneur Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat, who has recently turned to her swimwear factories to secure surgical masks for frontline workers, among countless others.
What’s the industry saying?
“Influencers humanize brands, and they place them in the appropriate context for the consumer. This is a moment where there’s so much finesse needed no matter what you’re talking about but especially when you’re selling stuff. Influencers allow you to really reach people.” – Amber Venz Box, president and co-founder of rewardStyle
This isn’t the first recession that the influencer economy has faced, so no, coronavirus didn’t kill the influencer market. The problem with so many of these articles is that they’re not considering the full picture. Our hot take? COVID-19 will actually accelerate the industry’s maturity as those with more traditional influence give way to those with diversified influence across channels, causes, products and platforms.
Live From Instagram, It’s All Your Favorite Influencers in Quarantine!
To set the stage, Instagram Live videos are #trending, with the company saying usage is up 70% in the U.S.
Instagram is testing a button that would allow people to upload their finished livestreams directly to IGTV. With this button, streamers could also choose to share a preview of their video to their feed and profile, presumably to drive more traffic to their IGTV video.
Historically, IG Lives have had a shelf-life of 24 hours (if saved to IG Stories) and there has been no real way to save content. A button could make uploading to IGTV a more appealing option, which would not only benefit viewers who missed a Live but could also help Instagram build IGTV into an actual long-form content competitor to YouTube.
And that’s not all for IG Live…
Instagram has finally granted everyone around the world access to watch and comment on Live videos directly from their desktops. Previously, Instagram Live videos were only accessible via the Instagram app on mobile which, despite aiding in convenience, made the viewing experience subpar (think: live-streaming a workout with your fav fitness instructor, but having to be literally 2ft away from the screen to see the movements… not fun).
With many in the world stuck inside and screen time at record highs, it’s no coincidence that Instagram is using this time to fine-tune its IGTV offerings. Just last week, it updated its IGTV app to better promote creators, and it also gave people the ability to tease their IGTV content in their Stories. This week, it’s hoping to leverage the peak engagement with Instagram Live content to seamlessly funnel viewers to IGTV.
As well, this also sets the foundation for monetization for both IG Live and IGTV. Although, currently, Instagram’s Branded Content Tool only works for in-feed posts, we’re guessing that soon, branded content tags will come to both IGTV and IG Live for easy brand sponsorship. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri also recently noted that the platform has more plans in the works to help support creators and artists using Live, likely including the new donation and support options it has in development.
It’s worth noting that, currently, without any native branded content tools, best practices for disclosures include:
- Always mentioning the sponsoring brand at the beginning of the content
- ForIGTV, indicating the content is sponsored in the caption
- ForLives, pinning one comment to the top of the comments indicating that the live-stream is sponsored.
YouTube’s Measurement Shake Up
Google has made some tweaks to how it categorizes partners in the YouTube Measurement Program, and it welcomed partners that are new to the program overall or to specific categories.
Back up, what is the YouTube Measurement Program?
Google launched the YouTube Measurement Program in 2017 to give advertisers access to trusted independent solutions for tracking marketing performance on YouTube.
Ok, so what’s changed?
Advertisers can now search by services including brand safety, brand suitability, and content insights. Four new partners were added in the Brand Suitability and Contextual Targeting category: Channel Factory, Integral Ad Science, Sightly and VuePlanner. This wasn’t met without criticism, however, with long-time partner, OpenSlate, refusing to sign a contract with YouTube, claiming the new restrictions defeat the program’s intended purpose.
What’s the industry saying?
Overall, industry marketers aren’t too pleased. As Chris Davis, an executive at Gleam Features stated, “Simply blocking videos and channels with certain keywords will not suffice as the platforms cannot rely purely on keywords, there needs to be a more contextual element to this. Otherwise, video-on-demand platforms are in danger of losing some really brilliant creators who drive huge audiences.”
While, on the one hand, Google has made it easier for advertisers to block videos that are risky to their reputations, doing so could inadvertently result in advertisers using these tools to block content they think is unsuitable, but is actually suitable which would impact campaign performance and could cost YouTube creators money. Since the change, some creators claim they are already seeing drops in CPMs despite seeing increasing views.