Is the brand-creator marriage holding steady or is the relationship in jeopardy? That was the question asked in a VidCon 2018 Industry Track panel. The answer came quickly:
“The marriage is working guys,” said Rafi Fine, CEO of Fine Brothers Entertainment. “We can all go home.”
But as the panelists dug a little deeper, they decided the brand-creator marriage still had a few issues to take care of. In fact—to torture the metaphor—they decided brands and creators hadn’t moved into the marriage stage yet. At best they were dating. Really, it was a series of one-night stands.
The challenge for brands is how to scale influencer successes, noted David Kargis, director of marketing communications for Clorox. When his team creates a successful influencer campaign, it drives a lot of excitement, but then the excitement goes away. The challenge is turning influencer campaigns into a bigger part of the marketing mix, and eventually using it to replace TV advertising.
Fine agreed that today’s influencer marketing is usually a series of one-off deals. His company has been focusing on operating more like a traditional television network, showing brands it can offer more than one-time promotions. While campaigns are still built around what’s called a “hero video,” with a major creator integrating the product, Fine Brothers also provides deeper integration through behind-the-scenes placements. And if the company doesn’t have a show that reflects the brand’s needs, Fine is willing to create one.
Deeper level content might include online question-and-answer sessions, or live streams built around group events. It’s about creating content that delivers an impact and speaks to the viewer directly. “How do we get our audience to care and be involved?” Fine asked.
Another challenge for the brand-creator relationship is measurement, said Beau Avril, global head of business operations for FameBit by YouTube. Influencer campaigns provide great optics, but for the relationship to grow it needs a solid foundation of data. FameBit is working on bringing measurement into the space, showing that viewers find influencer content from searches that those views lead to purchases later on.
“If we’re able to measure it and understand it better, maybe brands will be ready to make that leap,” Avril said. “I think we’re just scratching the surface, but there’s a lot of work to do.”
With brand safety a concern these days, influencer marketing can be a bit of a risk. Kargis of Clorox noted that a 100-year-old company doesn’t deal well with unpredictability. Influencer contracts now include clauses that allow videos to be pulled down if needed, just in case the creator does something that reflects badly on the brand. But Kargis doesn’t see a lot of blowback happening, and recent brand safety flare-ups haven’t had a chilling effect on the space. Brand marketers know that there’s a risk in working with influencers, but the rewards are worth it.