Influencer Marketing – An Under Researched Ad Space


Since the internet’s inception, advertising has been THE biggest way to monetize a site. None do it better than Google’s AdSense and AdWords advertising platforms which have been the cash cows for the Silicon Valley behemoth. Facebook followed suit with their Facebook insights and ad platform and the money has started pouring in. I would know as the company I work, HTC, for has spent millions on digital ad campaigns (much to my chagrin).

However, there is an explosive trend in marketing spend these days as more and more companies have started shifting their budgets from TV to digital marketing. There is a saying in advertising that content is king, specifically video content on YouTube. Nothing could be closer to the truth. As mentioned by this AdAge article, digital video business has never been better. Behind YouTube’s data research they have been able to offer a wide selection of ad products that have become increasingly enticing to companies. InStream YouTube ads allow advertisers to try to engage a specific demographic (based on the video they are watching) with the first 5 seconds of their video ad. If the ad is skipped or not played in full, the company doesn’t have to pay a dime. Pretty sweet deal and its something my company might have abused by just putting out a great 5-10 second ad followed by 20 seconds of garbage to ensure a high skip rate. Another new offering is allowing advertisers to latch onto “Breakout Videos” which basically monetizes incredibly viral videos. Again pretty cool. The great thing about YouTube (and Google) is that the analytics and tools behind these ad campaigns are incredibly useful and can really prove to advertisers that ROI is high. I mean just take a look at analytics of the YouTube channel I manage:

htc esports analytics

I can nail down the demographic, retention rate, interests, age, device used, comments, the whole shebang. Crafting KPIs and measuring them has never been easier. However there is a new wave of advertising that is slowly happening in the digital space and has a lot less data and network research behind it. Influencer marketing. 

Vine stars, Instagram celebrities, YouTube content creators, Twitch streamers etc. are starting to become one of the best ways to authentically and organically market your product or service. The problem here is that it is incredibly hard to measure any sort of data or do any type of ROI analysis when working with the influencer directly rather than through YouTube ads. Its much harder to track KPIs such as views, conversions, click through rate, etc. This has also affected pricing structure as when I talk to new wave agencies such as Polaris, Maker Studio, Omnia media, and Fullscreen it seems like they pull their pricing out of thin air. To get one influencer to make a video its based on cpm of 10 cents. But when looking at another influencer such as PewDiePie, one video has a flat fee of $3 million dollars. Its honestly quite a lot of hand waving. But here is the thing, we all instinctively know it works. When Nike sponsored Michael Jordan they knew they are getting incredible brand exposure as the millions of fans who follow MJ see the shoes and the iconic Nike swoosh logo.

When I work with influencers such as Smosh, Jacksepticeye, or even PewDiePie I know that we are getting incredible brand and product awareness. Its just so difficult to quantify if we are doing it organically and not through traceable ads. This is why a solution to influencer data analytics is a key missing tool. I’ve seen a couple of early unimpressive builds, but if someone solves this issue, they’ve struck gold.


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