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Influencer marketing has proven to be an effective strategy for companies looking to engage with targeted audiences, establishing itself in recent years as an essential tool for brands. The effectiveness of influencer marketing is reflected in an increase in spend on the channel. Business Insider reports that influencer marketing ad spend is projected to reach between $5 billion and $10 billion by 2022.
Using a conservative mid-point projection of $7.5 billion, this would represent a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38 percent. Yet the measurement being offered to companies shifting money into influencer marketing hasn’t always matched other forms of digital marketing. While advances driven by efforts to combat fraud represent a strong step forward for the industry, marketers should expect more from influencer marketing than simply an ability to “reach” their target audiences.
A complicated history with bots shouldn’t make business owners expect less. But how can they get the ROI they deserve from influencer marketing?
Higher Expectations for Influencer Efforts
There are several ways companies can achieve the measurable results needed to optimize their investments in influencer marketing. I recently spoke with Nii Mantse Addy, head of marketing at streaming service Philo, which has seen success leveraging artificial intelligence to assist its influencer campaigns. For Philo, the proof has been realized in the tangible improvements it saw after using AI: an increase in sales from influencer marketing.
Addy, whose campaigns have utilized deep learning algorithms, said, “Using AI, we were able to increase the subscription conversion efficiency of our influencer marketing campaigns by nearly 10 times. It hasn’t only delivered results; it’s given us a competitive advantage.”
AI has been a long-offered solution for the challenges that face influencer marketing. But until recently, it had yet to solve marketers’ real problem: measurement. The promise of AI for marketers is better outcomes at scale. “Outcomes” no longer simply means matching companies with the right influencers. Thanks to AI, marketers can now measure actual campaign performance and predict the success of future campaigns.
“Advances in AI are allowing brands to go deeper into the marketing funnel with influencer marketing campaigns,” explains Ricky Ray Butler, CEO of BEN, an influencer and entertainment marketing company whose AI solution was used by Philo to power its campaigns. “Deep learning is going to revolutionize our industry by allowing brands to optimize their campaigns based on sales rather than views.”
Letting Data Take Center Stage
In order to optimize AI for influencer marketing campaigns, there are key questions leaders and marketers need to keep in mind. Among the most important is how your business is capturing historical data about the performance of its campaigns. AI learns over time; the more information you feed into the system, the smarter and more accurate it becomes. Businesses should be collecting all performance data, including clicks or conversions, to ensure they have a large enough data set to train an AI model.
Once you’ve started collecting data, a crucial next step is to ensure your AI solution incorporates both structured and unstructured data. This is the only way AI can accurately predict performance for influencer marketing campaigns. The combination of structured data and unstructured data, such as the video and audio data contained in social content, is paramount for success.
According to research from Nielsen, Americans spend nearly half a day interacting with media such as Instagram, podcasts, or Netflix. Within all that content is a gold mine of data. AI has the capability to analyze and make sense of all the nuances within content that humans can’t identify. When that information is applied to influencer campaigns, it can help predict which influencer channels will drive the most views, the highest engagement, or even the most clicks or conversions.
Lastly, if you’re not implementing your own AI but working with a third party, you should make sure its AI model is customized specifically for your company’s needs. Many influencer marketing companies use off-the-shelf algorithms from vendors that can’t be tailored specifically to meet the needs of each brand. Your campaigns and the audiences you want to reach are unique, which necessitates an AI solution that can be tailored and quickly scaled to fit the business metrics you’re trying to achieve.
Influencer marketing will remain a viable strategy for companies of all sizes. Just this week, Facebook noted that Instagram Stories surpassed 500 million users. As businesses look to increase their spend on influencer marketing, they should also be increasing the expectations they have about results.
Thanks to AI, brands no longer need to rely on “followers” or “views” as their primary success metrics. The emergence of deep learning gives marketers the ability to get something new from their investment: true ROI.
March 7, 2019 at 05:53AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs