The Interactive Advertising Bureau has published a new influencer marketing program guide, “Inside Influence: Why Publishers are Increasingly Turning to Influencer Marketing—and What That Means for Marketers.”
Influencer marketing is a tactic by which a brand/agency/publisher works with individuals, aka influencers, to drive brand messages to meet strategic goals.
Influencers are those who are deemed to have the potential to create engagement, drive conversation and/or sell products/services with the intended target audience. These individuals can range from being celebrities to more micro-targeted professional or non-professional “peers” (e.g. the difference between a blogger with a large following vs. an individual with a small following, but high influence amongst a set peer group).
The guide outlines how publishers are using influencer marketing tactics to both build their editorial brand and to engage the right audience on their platforms.
For publishers considering new influencer marketing options as part of their branded content advertising packages, the guide provides information on the benefits of this type of offering.
For marketers and their agencies, the guide provides insights on how to best leverage influencer marketing programs as part of a branded content/native advertising initiative, including the questions that need to be asked to ensure this approach will achieve brand goals, and insights on key metrics to evaluate ROI.
For all audiences, case studies are included to demonstrate creativity and the impact of influencer marketing in the publisher space.
The IAB also emphasizes the need for disclosures, and encourages marketers to review the Federal Trade Commission’s Endorsement Guides and FAQ. The agency cautioned that publishers and marketers cannot assume that followers are aware of all brand relationships or that ambiguous disclosures on social media platforms such as “#thanks” or “#spon” are sufficient.
In accordance with Dot Com Disclosure guidance, the IAB recommends clear disclosures when a brand has financial or family relationships with an influencer to ensure that the sponsorship disclosure is hard to miss, that sponsored tags (including tags in pictures) are treated like any other endorsements, and that disclosures are superimposed over the images on image-only platforms such as Snapchat.
In 2017, largely in response to an FTC action where over 90 brands and influencers were contacted about influencer disclosure issues, some social platforms have instituted their own guidance and systems to make it clearer to readers where there is a material connection between a brand and an influencer. It is crucial to evaluate guidance and options on a platform by platform basis to determine if different or additional disclosure is warranted relative to FTC guidance.
Increasingly, publishers are turning to influencer marketing as a way to enhance their branded content offerings. The benefits to marketers can be significant if executed well, but there are still important compliance questions that should be asked before approving an influencer program and publishers.
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