Grow Dedicated Influencer Marketing Budgets, Don’t Cannibalize Other Channels
Keeping an influencer marketing budget is a tactic that’s here to stay.
More and more marketers use influencers to create (or re-purpose) content with the goal of generating consumer trust and sales among Millennials.
Because brands and agencies are beginning to understand the category, learning how to develop more recurring campaigns, and continuing to see effective results, there has been a massive increase in demand.
But as demand in influencer marketing grows, so should dedicated budgets and category spending. Influencer marketing is a standalone part of the advertising mix and not just a cannibalized segment of a social media advertising budget.
For a lot of advertisers, it’s easy to bundle influencer marketing right into the same allocations that are set aside for paid social media ad buys.
A lot of brands will want to use the same budget for paid social media content promotion and influencer marketing. In doing so, they fail to consider key category specific variables.
By bundling influencer marketing spends into the same advertising budget they’ve set aside for other paid social media channels, important strategic paid budgets become cannibalized, performance expectations become crossed, and brands lose out on powerful content promotion opportunities due to gaps in proper budgeting requirements (e.g., failing to account for specific category cost and infrastructure requirements).
Part of the reason brand marketers and agencies can find it difficult to set aside additional funds for influencer activations (36% of marketers spend less than $5,000 per campaign), is that when compared to the digital paid media budgets they are cannibalizing, it’s difficult to create accurate attribution modeling like other, more established paid channels can.
It’s that lack of attribution reliability that can make it hard to justify increased spends or leads to misrepresenting performance expectations and measurability.
This misrepresentation of expectations can cause decision makers to become conflicted when justifying an increased campaign budget or it can cause a perception of influencer ad product or placement inferiority.
That’s one reason teams rarely bother asking key decision makers for increased influencer ad spends. They’ll work with what they have instead of asking for what’s required to create and carry out an effective influencer campaign.
Same Same, But Different
However, when comparing digital ad budgets to traditional media budget allocations, management and brand clients alike often view them as two different categories. Each segment is perceived as having their own unique objectives, reporting capabilities, and capable outcomes.
This same line of thinking should occur when considering influencer ad budgets to paid digital budget allocations.
Take into account for a moment that it’s impossible to provide a clickable link in an Instagram caption, or backlink a Snapchat story from a specific call to action (for influencer story posts, not paid Snap ad units), like you can when you launch a sponsored Facebook or Instagram ad unit with a “learn more” call to action button.
Also consider the real ROI figure or attempt to measure in-store visits or sales attributions from Wendy’s recent #NuggsForCarter Twitter slam dunk, when a single tweet back to 16-year-old Carter Wilkinson went viral after he asked the fast food chain on Twitter “how many retweets it would take for him to get free nuggets for a year” becoming (at the time of writing this) the most retweeted tweet in history.
Digital sponsored social media ad units, and influencer marketing ad formats are just different by nature of how they function in the marketplace, and how their results are quantified.
Consider the same when examining a brand’s marketing mix and tactical budget allocations.
Cost Requirements & Infrastructure Assumptions
Often teams underestimate influencer campaign costs due to a variety of hidden and misleading assumptions, with non-dedicated budgets making these issues worse due to inadequate funds, leading to poor performing campaigns.
For starters, brands who don’t have dedicated influencer marketing budgets will fail to account for the internal (operational) or agency labor required to create, implement, and execute influencer marketing campaigns when contemplating advertising cost considerations.
With most digital products, once you have your audience configurations set, ad placements identified, creative developed, and split testing finished there’s a period where the performance of the ad unit is monitored and optimized over time.
When compared to ad placements using influencer marketing formats, insertion order fulfillment is much more involved, requiring essential campaign tasks in identifying, recruiting, negotiating, managing, and reporting on influencer campaigns.
In addition, this problem is worsened because there is no standardized or channel infrastructure precedence for workflow, deployment, and measurement like there is for example with Facebook’s Ads Manager platform or Google’s AdWords product.
All of the above factors add to the total required influencer campaign execution costs that are not usually accounted for when teams cannibalize paid digital ad spends across other various channels vs. planning a dedicated thought out allocation.
That’s why our team created NeoReach in the first place, feeling the pains first hand associated with discovering, managing, and tracking influencer campaigns.
With the company origins rooted in programmatic ad buying (Jesse, our CEO, bootstrapped an SEO Agency in 2012, before building NeoReach), when our team approached influencer marketing we naturally gravitated to a self-service solution that felt like a natural extension of our pre-existing workflow and provided transparent familiar feeling ad metrics.
Conclusion & Takeaways from Having an Influencer Marketing Budget
In closing, it’s important that brands develop dedicated spends if they want to start and successfully deploy influencer marketing campaigns. Influencer marketing campaigns behave and cost differently than other paid channels and need specific, thoughtful resource allocations that accommodate their unique challenges.
It’s important that marketers notice the problems in cannibalizing paid digital budgets, underestimating performance expectations, and failing to consider associated costs that are presented when bundling influencer marketing spends into the same advertising budget they would allocate for other paid digital ad channels.
Grow the paid ad pie, work with your digital buying teams on dividing dedicated influencer category spends and set your company up for success from the start.