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Opinion

#IMA20: Q&A with Category Sponsor CreatorIQ

CreatorIQ is sponsoring a category at the 2020 Influencer Marketing Awards and we caught up with Kam Zulawski, MD of EMEA, to chat about influencer ROI, long-term partnerships and the awards ceremony.

We’re excited to have CreatorIQ sponsoring a category at the 2020 Influencer Marketing Awards at Sheraton Grand Park Lane in London. We chat with Kam Zulawski, MD of EMEA at CreatorIQ, about influencer ROI, long-term partnerships and the awards ceremony taking place on March 25.

Firstly, can you tell us a bit about CreatorIQ and what you are doing in the space for those that may not know? 

CreatorIQ is the influencer marketing SaaS platform of choice for Airbnb, CVS, Disney, Edelman, Mattel, Omnicom, Ralph Lauren, Salesforce, Unilever, and many other global enterprises. We aren’t an influencer marketplace or an agency masquerading as tech, we’re the pure technology system of record behind the world’s largest and most progressive influencer marketing programs.

Our platform powers the global programs that are shaping the future of influencer marketing. We believe that transparency and authenticity are both keys to the success of our industry. At our core, we offer our clients the ability to track and scale programs without having to worry about the minutiae and monotony of manually measuring performance and calculating results.

We’ve built technology for every part of the influencer marketing workflow – not just discovery, campaign management, and reporting – but also creator onboarding, authentication management, secure contract storage, content approval, automated payouts, and tax management.

We are glad to have you involved in the 2020 Influencer Marketing Awards. Why do you think events like these are so important for this ever-changing industry?

It’s enormously important to have opportunities like this to showcase what is happening in the industry. It gives us a platform to share best practices with our peers, co-ideate with influencer marketing experts from brands and agencies, and collectively push the influencer marketing envelope outward. 

Awards are also a chance to celebrate the advancements made in the space and they help codify and legitimise to curious marketers on the outside looking in.

You are sponsoring the Most Effective Campaign for ROI category. Proving the ROI of influencer marketing can be challenging – what ways can brands transparently measure campaign ROI? 

There is more emphasis than ever on proving the “true ROI” of influencer campaigns. Progressive marketers are moving away in droves from vanity metrics like follower counts, comments, and likes, which can be faked and inflated. And the social platforms themselves are pushing influencer marketers toward lower-funnel measurement with many of their recent feature advancements.

For example, throughout 2019, Instagram has:

  1. Expanded their test, which removes likes from the Instagram app’s interface globally
  2. Launched new branded content ad products that amplify creator content
  3. Rolled out new shoppable content tags and further internalised the checkout process

All of Instagram’s recent changes point toward a future championing the importance of “attributable” metrics. ROI-driven influencer marketing, which Instagram is embracing as it takes point in its role as a D2C platform, treats dollar metrics as king and “vanity” metrics as a yesteryear proxy for success.

These moves are fertiliser for the industry’s maturation. They push the space toward a future wherein influencer marketing is measured by the same performance standards as other digital marketing channels.

ROI-driven metrics must contribute to an effective cost-per-whatever (eCPX), otherwise, they’re “vanity” and mean little to a business trying to measure tangible results. For influencer marketing, these are:

  • Reach (eCPM)
  • Clicks (eCPC)
  • Views (eCPV)
  • Conversions (eCPA)

Other industry metrics that have been traditionally modeled off of estimated metrics (like “social media value”) will start to work backward from harder, truer metrics like these. Eventually, influencer marketing will be held to the same standards as any other digital marketing channel, which is something that, given its potential for insane success, good marketers should be ecstatic about.

In your opinion, what ways can you start to prove the ROI in long-term relationships? 

The way that influencer marketers should measure long-term (“evergreen”) campaign ROI is the same way they might measure short-term returns:

  1. Establish to what “grain” they’d like to attribute metrics: campaign-level, creator-level, or post-level
  2. Prepare tracking technologies to inform the user journey: shortlink vendors, tagged link schemas (UTMs), pixels, CMS integrations, and web analytics goals
  3. Work with an influencer marketing platform that integrates with the selected attribution technologies alongside campaign and social media performance data
  4. Denote a “conversion” – what are the events that mean success to your business?
  5. Ingest the true dollar outcome of your direct response influencer marketing efforts

    There is also a back half to measurement: optimisation. 
  6. Find correlations between traffic or conversion volume and campaign decisions √ creative, engagements, audience type, talent type, campaign structure, etc.
  7. Tie “effective” value metrics to these abstract variables based on their impact on revenue
  8. Let potential for ROAS drive campaign manager decisions

Lastly, there are other metrics that may be key depending on the advertiser’s goals. Many brands – especially retailers or those that don’t sell products via e-commerce – use influencer marketing to generate brand buzz. For these companies, econometric modeling and holdout campaigns that estimate brand lift are key. 

Similarly, Net Promoter Score (NPS) from creator traffic is an important KPI for brands that sell services or longer-term customer engagements.

This is a global category – do brands measure ROI differently across borders and if so, how?

Most major differences in ROI measurement across borders are driven by the laws and technology platforms in that particular market. For example, compared to their American counterparts, German influencer marketers must navigate much more legal red tape when deploying tracking technologies, targeting nano-influencers, and storing creator data.

On Chinese social media platforms like Weibo, the customer journey is closed-loop – from native customer payment solutions (like Alipay) to the hosting of e-commerce itself.

Lastly, if one thing could change in the influencer marketing industry what would you want it to be? 

If we could wave a magic wand and change one thing about the industry it would be how influencer marketing is perceived by that outside of if. Despite its massive advertiser returns and ever-broadening use cases, influencer marketing is still stigmatised regularly by journalists, laypeople, and other marketers. This space is not without scars, but thousands of earnest people are working every day to steer it toward a brighter future.

CreatorIQ has clients that reach day traders, rural fishermen, and dog owners through influencer marketing, to name a few. Gone are the days of being campaigns conducted solely through beauty vloggers’ video annotations.

If you think you’ve delivered a campaign worthy of an award, download the entry kit today. Final entries close midnight November 27.

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