One year after Unilever PLC warned that fraud was undermining influencer marketing, the company’s venture capital and private-equity unit has invested in influencer marketing software platform CreatorIQ.
The investment is part of Unilever’s mission to improve the integrity, transparency, and measurement of influencer marketing, both for itself and to set a best practice for the industry as a whole. Unilever marketing chief Keith Weed called out the industry’s problems at Cannes last year, stating that “at best it’s misleading, at worst it’s corrupt.” He also called out social media platforms to do more to help combat fraud. Although the company said it would not work with influencers who buy followers, it still incorporates influencers into its core marketing strategy.
“The entire digital advertising ecosystem understands the important role creators are playing in advertising and brand building; the industry needs forward-thinking companies to address issues like data transparency and fraud,” said Vasiliki Petrou, executive vice president and Group CEO at Unilever Prestige.
Now, Unilever Ventures and TVC Capital have invested $12 million in CreatorIQ to help accelerate the growth for CreatorIQ’s Enterprise Creator Cloud software platform. The platform enables AI-powered creator discovery, streamlines end-to-end workflow, ensures brand safety, and drives measurement for the influencer marketing industry.
“CreatorIQ is proactively developing solutions that empower Unilever to continue to set global measurement standards for the influencer marketing industry. Their platform enhances the quality and integrity of our brands’ campaigns by safeguarding against follower fraud and brand safety issues,” said Petrou.
Unilever already uses CreatorIQ, alongside other tools, to help handle influencer relationships. CreatorIQ tracks 99% of all creators globally, with clients such as Airbnb, Disney, Dell and Ralph Lauren using the platform to run thousands of campaigns, while leveraging unique measurement insights that drive real business outcomes. The new funding round values CreatorIQ at $40 million to $50 million. The company plans to use the funds to get additional measurement and data, and continue to expand its team this year.
“The most impactful brand stories no longer come directly from brands. They are told in collaboration with passionate advocates who are helping build culturally relevant companies by delivering these stories to the world,” said Igor Vaks, founder and CEO of CreatorIQ.
“We see organisations of all sizes embracing new ways of building relationships with their customers, and brand advocacy has proven to be a competitive advantage. Brands are turning to influencer marketing because it drives results, but only enterprise-grade technologies can help them succeed at scale alongside older and more mature marketing channels.”