May 12, 2020: Creators turn to a variety of influencer-to-consumer revenue streams amid decreased brand sponsorship deals; Pinterest launches Shopify app and releases Q1 2020 earnings; TikTok develops AR ad format to rival Instagram and Snapchat

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week: 


COVID-19 Accelerates Influencer-to-Consumer Revenue Streams

The Story

Creators are continuing to make money from a variety of influencer-to-consumer (ITC) revenue streams, signifying that COVID-19 has not destroyed the influencer economy, but instead has accelerated its evolution. 

Back up, what’s this talk about destroying the influencer economy?

ICYMI – a slew of headlines in recent weeks have published bold claims, claiming coronavirus had “killed the influencer market — maybe for good” and that “the influencer economy was headed towards its first recession.” This, in fact, couldn’t be further from the truth — and here’s why.

I’m listening…

The creator industry, like so many other industries, is resilient and has evolved as a result of COVID-19. Many creators have shifted their businesses from the confines of paid sponsorship opportunities on Instagram’s grid to include non-sponsorship revenue opportunities, like selling merch, products, subscriptions and even personalized shoutouts. 

In recent weeks, merch sales have increased, influencer-to-consumer brands like fitness programs and workout apps have surged and personalized shoutouts through the video-shout-out app Cameo have skyrocketed. On Patreon, a membership platform where fans can subscribe to creators’ content, 70,000 creators have joined the platform since March and the company has seen a 20% month-over-month growth in the number of users paying for content for the first time. 

Why are creators shifting their businesses?

Advertising rates are down,  and while that doesn’t mean that creators aren’t finding deals, it’s undoubtedly much harder to lock in contracts with brands, especially in industries hit hard by COVID-19 (think: travel, hospitality, entertainment). However, even for the creators who have been virtually unaffected with the number of deals they get, payments are being deferred, resulting in less predictable income. 


Business Insider said it best: “the biggest reason why the influencer industry will endure is simple: consumer demand is strong — in fact, stronger than ever.” Influencers are always going to remain relevant because they are the voice of the consumer. Consumers, on the other hand, will continue to follow them to be informed, inspired and uplifted — especially in times of crisis. 

It’s also worth pointing out that, even before COVID-19, creators were already diversifying their revenue streams. The pandemic simply accelerated the existing trend. While many of these revenue opportunities are smaller than the sponsored content deals that have largely categorized the industry, they highlight a notable shift in the diversification of the influencer marketing landscape as a whole — a shift that mirrors the broader changes in digital media. 

The biggest opportunity for brands lies in supporting creators in these ventures, as inherently, influencers are trendsetters.; As they begin to blur the lines between “influencer” and “entrepreneur,” brands should be paying very close attention to their business decisions. 

As influencers are proving to be more than just content creators, bring them into your board rooms and leverage their insight of consumer behavior to help guide your decisions. Make influencer-proofed decisions about marketing campaign ideas, creative, R&D, and product feedback and launches. 

Pinterest Launches Shopify App to Accelerate Path to Purchase

The Story

Pinterest has launched a new app with Shopify that gives their merchants a quick and easy way to upload catalogs to Pinterest and turn their products into shoppable Product Pins.

Tell me the deets.

The Pinterest app on Shopify gives retailers a fast, easy way to upload product catalogs to Pinterest, without having to edit code or take on any development costs. Features include a suite of shopping features like tag installation, catalog ingestion, automatic daily updating of products, and an ads buying interface. For Shopify merchants, this means easy set up and access to distribution across Pinterest (with or without ads), as well as reporting and results tracking to maximize the reach. 

What’s Shopify saying?

“The channel allows merchants to easily turn their Shopify products into shoppable pins for Pinterest’s over 350 million users to discover, allowing Pinterest users to purchase the item directly from the merchant’s store. The channel also makes it even easier for merchants to advertise to and acquire new customers, which is a huge win for businesses.” — Satish Kanwar, VP of product, Shopify  

What’s the deal with shoppable Pins on Pinterest?

TLDR; by uploading their catalog feed, merchants (on or off Shopify) make it possible for people to discover and save their products and buy directly from their website — these are called “Product Pins.” According to Pinterest, the number of Pinners who have engaged with shoppable Product Pins has increased 44% year-over-year and total traffic to retailers has increased by 2.3x year-over-year.  

Speaking of YoY growth, didn’t Pinterest just release its Q1 2020 Earnings?

Pinterest has repeatedly noted that it is seeing record levels of usage amid the COVID-19 lockdowns and its Q1 2020 earnings results highlight that. As seen below, Pinterest is now at 367 million monthly active users, up 32 million from Q4 2019. Also notable is that Pinterest has maintained its growth momentum, showing a 9.55% increase quarter-over-quarter, outpacing Snapchat (5%), Twitter (9.21%), LinkedIn (2.22%) and Facebook (4.20%). 


Don’t sleep on Pinterest — its earnings report alone highlights the immense growth the platform has seen, especially in recent months. Even though it may not be as talked about as other social media platforms, it is a conductor for people looking for inspiration, so they come with a high intent and plan to purchase. This unique user behavior and growth, paired with the new Shopify partnership, makes it even more valuable to a brand’s bottom line. 

As for the Shopify partnership, given the sheer number of merchants on its platform, the rollout has the potential to increase Pinterest’s social commerce efforts, further accelerating the path-to-purchase by making IGC and UGC shoppable, with just one click. According to Shopify, the platform serves more than one million merchants and more than 300 million unique shoppers, which has resulted in some experts calling the platform an emerging Amazon rival.


TikTok Develops AR Ad Format, Set to Launch Q3 2020

The Story 

TikTok is getting ready to launch a new AR ad format, putting it head-to-head with Snapchat and Instagram’s AR offerings.  

Go on…

Once launched, the “AR brand effect” ad will allow TikTok users to add interactive visual effects from advertisers to their TikTok videos that interact with the physical environment around them (think: a car maker could have branded AR content that shows a vehicle racing along a kitchen table). 

The ads will be clickable and will also feature music that plays as the user shoots the video. According to sources familiar with the plans, the global rollout is set for some time in Q3 2020 with unknown pricing but don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated.


The new ad format most directly positions TikTok to rival Snapchat, whose parent company Snap has said more than 75% of users engage with AR content every day on average. Additionally, it has helped Snapchat secure ad dollars from big brands, like L’Oréal and Universal Pictures, who are looking for ways to give consumers branded experiences while shelter-in-place orders have made physical experiences near impossible. TBD if TikTok’s AR ads offering will help brands do the same. 

As TikTok continues to gain traction among users, it’s no surprise that brands are starting to flock to the app. However, for a lot of brand marketers, the platform remains largely a mystery. That’s why we’ve created this ten minute video, explaining the ins and outs of the platform and how marketers can activate creators for campaigns and measure performance. 



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