How is Influencer Marketing Measured?

As influencer marketing grows in popularity, the industry that has sprung up around it has been trying to get to grips with how to measure campaigns more effectively. Advertisers no longer need to just throw money at a YouTuber or an Instagram star and then pray it has an impact — now there are plenty of metrics that brands can use track to both measure the impact of a campaign and inform pricing.

With the space evolving, and around 62 percent of marketers growing their influencer marketing budgets, VAN spoke to those working in the space to clarify what is and isn’t currently possible, and to gauge the direction the industry is heading.

Towards More Standardised Pricing

In its early days of influencer marketing, the rarity of influencer campaigns meant that prices tended to be negotiated on a case by case basis, as Sheetal Sahota, a senior manager at Rakuten Marketing, explained to VAN, “As part of our affiliate business, we’ve always worked to connect advertisers to content creators. In the beginning, for example, we might have just asked how much we’d have to pay for a certain level of exposure.” In some instances, this method is still used by some of the larger influencers who are in a strong enough position to be able to set their own prices.

Maria Cadbury, managing director at publisher Evolve Media’s influencer marketing department The Studio, gave an example of one in-demand influencer she worked with who wanted to cut down the number of campaigns she worked on to maintain her authenticity. This influencer was able to quadruple her rates, knowing that limiting the number campaigns she worked on would make any she did work on more valuable.

But as influencer marketing has grown in scale and brands are working for with much smaller ‘micro-influencers’, negotiating prices with every individual influencer has become impractical, and so new, more standardised pricing models have emerged.

The social platform a campaign is delivered on might partly dictate the pricing model. YouTube for example tells you how many views a video has received, meaning YouTube campaigns can be measured on a fairly standard cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) basis. On Instagram however this isn’t possible, meaning campaigns tend to be traded on a cost-per-thousand followers basis instead.

Some in the industry think these pricing models need to evolve further. Dafydd Woodward, global product lead of content and influencer marketing at GroupM, says the cost-per-thousand followers metric is too “broad and generic”.

“At the moment we’re asking is there a more genuine metric that we can trade on, for example cost per engagement, whether that’s a like, a comment or a view,” said Woodward. This model again would be very platform dependent, as different platforms offer a variety of forms of engagement.

Rakuten Marketing’s Sahota said she “wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the way the industry goes”, as there are already significant moves towards cost-per-engagement across the industry. For example Rakuten Marketing, which in many cases uses affiliate links to lead users from an influencer’s content to a brand’s domain, can already reward influencers for being the first click on a customer’s purchase journey.


When it comes to key performance indicators, again the social media platforms themselves dictate in part what is possible.

Total views is perhaps the most basic metric measured, and pretty much all of the most popular platforms will show creators the reach of a given post. More sophisticated insight though, for example into how many users watched the entirety of a video post, will vary between platforms. Snapchat, for example, only showed creators their story view counts until recently, but now offers more in-depth analytics, including things like average time unique viewers spent watching and completion rates, as well as audience demographics. Instagram meanwhile currently gives analytics for regular photo and video posts, but not for Stories.

Engagement too, whilst still not commonly used as a currency, is commonly measured as an indicator of campaign performance. Likes, comments, retweets, and any other forms of engagement all point to a deeper level of interest in a piece of content of course.

Sahota says brands have to be careful with how they interpret engagement for a couple of reasons. Firstly, larger influencers expect to see lower levels of engagement (in relation to their follower count), so advertisers shouldn’t necessarily think campaigns with popular influencers that receive lower engagement rates have been less successful if they are looking at reach or awareness as their main KPI. It’s more likely that people are less inclined to comment on content when hundreds of comments have already been made.

Further to this, it’s important to understand the relative value of each type of engagement on each platform. Blog posts for example should expect to see far lower numbers of comments than Instagram posts, so brand should value 100 comments on an Instagram post and 100 comments on a blog post differently.

Some also dive deeper into comments and hashtags related to piece of content to analyse their sentiment. Sahota says Rakuten Marketing uses AI to analyse the overall sentiment of comments, helping brands understand whether the post has had an overall positive, negative, or neutral effect on the brand’s image.

“That’s a great indicator of whether the audience is liking and commenting because they like they creator, or because they like the content,” she said.

If the campaign itself involves driving users to a specific destination, for example an online store or an app download, clicks through these links can be accurately measured. This is a more platform-independent metric, as advertisers can measure the amount of traffic coming from content posted across a range of social media sites.

Harry Hugo, co-founder and chief campaigns officer at The Goat Agency said that his company can track how many clicks a piece of content on any platform gets, how these clicks are converted to downloads, and how those downloads are converted into sales. Rakuten Marketing meanwhile uses affiliate links to track directly when audiences move from a social media post the the brand’s website, although this still isn’t completely platform-independent. Instagram for example doesn’t allow affiliate links within posts, making affiliate links more awkward to use as they have to be posted in the influencer’s bio, or in the ‘swipe-up’ of an Instagram story instead.

The Inevitable Fraud

Of course several of these metrics are liable to being tampered with by wannabe influencers who pay for followers, bot-driven views, likes and comments in order to dupe brands into working with them. The issue was raised at this year’s Cannes Lions festival when Unilever CMO Keith Weed pledged not to work with influencers who buy followers.

Weed’s concern reflects the worries still held by many advertisers, and reignited the debate around how prone to fraud influencer campaigns are. Some are calling for the social media platforms themselves to do more to help identify anyone artificially inflating their follower or engagement counts.

GroupM’s Woodward says some platforms are fairly active in their efforts. “Instagram every now and again will go through a purge where they identify fake accounts and remove them,” he said. “But I don’t think the social media companies see it as their responsibility to ensure that accounts on their platforms are their genuine, or at least it’s not their top priority.”

Often this is just due to technical challenges of creating a solution that addresses all the concerns and needs of different brands and agencies, said Woodward, and the data advertisers get from these platforms is already by and large sufficient to weed out fraudulent influencers.

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Subscription OTT Market to Grow 24% in 2018

Nearly 765 million people worldwide will use a subscription over-the-top (OTT) video service at least once per month this year, according to the latest forecast from eMarketer. This total will represent 10.2 percent of the global population and 32.1 percent of digital video viewers worldwide.

The firm expects the global subscription OTT market will grow by 24.0 percent thanks to increasing internet penetration, faster speeds and a broader shift toward online entertainment. The shift is fueled in part by streaming giants like Amazon and Netflix increasing their content spend outside the country in an effort to boost international membership. Netflix alone added 4.47 million subscribers internationally in Q2 of this year. The streaming giant has remarkable user penetration rate in countries including Norway (62 percent), Canada (56.3 percent), Denmark (54.9 percent), and Sweden (50.2 percent).

All around the world consumers are turning to OTT services as a cheaper alternative to traditional pay TV subscriptions. In the UK, for example, new data from media regulator Ofcom (per Variety) shows SVOD subscritions outnumbering those to traditional pay-TV for the first time.

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YouTube Invests $25M Supporting News Orgs, helping Youtube

With authoritative news sources facing a crisis in the U.S. and digital competition bearing more than a little responsibility, YouTube announced it will spend $25 million to support news organizations and also take measures to combat the spread of fake news on its own platform.

The $25 million investment will help news organization around the globe adapt and profit from a video-centric world. A working group that includes Vox Media and India Today will help YouTube create new products for news organizations and improve the experience for viewers. YouTube will also provide direct funding in 20 markets to help news organizations create sustainable video operations in-house. These grants will help employees learn best practices for video, build up their production systems, and create formats that appeal to online video viewers. Finally, YouTube will provide support for news organizations through an expanded team of experts. This team will help news organization apply best practices and grow audience development initiatives.

Like Facebook, YouTube is owning up to its role in spreading fake news, and is taking steps to promote authoritative sources. Fake news creators take advantage of breaking news, for example, by creating sensationalist videos that rise to the top of searches before authoritative videos are available. Because reporters often publish articles before creating video reports, YouTube will offer short news previews on breaking news searches. These previews will link to full articles. Look for this to start in a few weeks. YouTube will also feature trusted news sources prominently on its homepage and in search results. It’s already begun featuring trusted local news sources in its TV app.

Combatting false information goes beyond the day’s news, which is why YouTube will include links to third parties such as Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia on topics often beset with conspiracy theories, such as the moon landing.

Viewers following an Encyclopaedia Britannica link will see the publication’s usual entry, as well as information prepared for them such as a quick summary of what is and isn’t known about the topic. The ideas is to engage the curious and give them context for creating informed opinions.

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How to Build and Sell a $300M Production Company: MediaMonks

Listen to this Sound Cloud conversation with MediaMonks’ co-founder Wesley ter Haar. MediaMonks is one of the world’s biggest creative production companies, with 11 offices worldwide and 700 people on staff.

They recently made global headlines with the acquisition by Martin Sorrell’s new company S4 Capital. The €300M deal is the biggest for a production company ever.

Jeroen and Paul speak with Wesley about how it all started in 2001, somewhere in a small basement. About how they completely reshaped the company in 2009, allowing them to become an internationally renowned creative production partner for the world’s biggest brands and agencies.

Live TV no longer 1st viewing choice

According to findings from Decoding the Default, the annual study by Hub Entertainment Research which tracks the TV sources US consumers consider their go-to viewing platform, there is a continuing increase in multiple platform use and a steady move away from live TV as a default source.

Highlights from the study:

1) Multiple Platforms Proliferate: Consumers are using more sources for TV watching than ever before.

The average consumer has 4.5 different sources to choose from when they’re ready to watch TV, including linear TV, DVR, video on demand, Netflix, Hulu, etc. That number is up from 3.7 in 2014.

Among younger viewers age 18-34, the number of platforms is even higher (5.1 different sources).

As just one example, half (50 per cent) of 18-34 year-olds subscribe to two or more of the ‘big three’ SVoDs: Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.

2) First Choice No Longer: With multiple sources at their disposal, only 39 per cent of viewers now say live, linear TV from a traditional pay-TV service is what they turn on first.

That’s down 8 points from just last year, when 47 per cent called live TV their viewing default.

Consumers are now more likely to turn first to an on-demand, time-shifted source of TV, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, a DVR, or pay-TV video on demand (48 per cent combined).

3) Live TV Down in Core Demos: Consumers who consider live TV their default has dropped significantly across the board, even among older viewers.

The majority (56 per cent) of viewers 55 and over still default to watching live. But one year ago, it was two-thirds (66 per cent).

Among those 18-34, only about a quarter (26 per cent) say that live TV is their default. One year ago, it was more than one-third (35 per cent).

“We’ve been watching live TV drop steadily as a default source since we first conducted this study in 2013,” said Peter Fondulas, principal at Hub and co-author of the study. “But this is the first year where we’ve seen a sharp drop among older consumers too which has huge implications for the monetisation of linear TV in general. As online, on-demand platforms continue to become mainstream, live viewing has become the exception rather than the rule.”

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Broadband Households Embrace Alternative Video Sources

According to the 360 Deep Dive: Alternative Content Consumption report, content such as livestreaming, user-generated content, short-form videos and web video series that are available via social networking, video-sharing or similar apps or sites is gaining traction.

For instance, nearly one-half of US broadband households watch user-generated content on a monthly basis, and more than 10% watch livestreamed content. Almost one-quarter of broadband households have posted videos to some type of content site or app within the last 30 days.

“Alternative video is an important part of the video landscape, and it competes with other video options for a share of consumer attention,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research at Parks Associates. “Approximately one-half of households with a TV watch video from YouTube and similar sites on their TV set. In fact, more households watch online video from an app such as YouTube than watch video from a TV channel app.”

Parks Associates data about alternative content consumption shows that adoption of pay-TV declines as the frequency of user-generated content consumption increases. This correlation poses a future threat to pay-TV providers, the report found, as younger respondents are far more likely to watch user-generated content, which could potentially impact their future pay-TV habits and perspectives.

“Younger consumers are far more likely to create their own content as well as watch user-generated content,” Sappington said. “For these viewers, the creation of content is as much a part of the entertainment experience as is watching video. Increasingly, traditional content producers and service providers are leveraging alternative content, in order to connect with audiences and draw viewers. Some are partnering with individual web celebrities and influencers who often have a disproportionately large influence on the user-generated side of the alternative content space.”

The research also found that, at present, only 7% of US broadband households watch sporting events via livestream. And, consumers who view user-generated content are much more likely than those who never watch it to have an OTT service.

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Roku Lets Publishers Sell Inventory Using Its Audience Data

Roku released its Audience Marketplace on Tuesday, designed to let publishers use its first-party data based on how consumers interact with the OTT device.

The new marketplace allows publishers to match their audiences with Roku’s. The device’s first-party data also provides behavioral insights – such as what content Roku users search for or how much time they spend streaming content – that allow publishers to sell their inventory based on a deeper understanding of the consumer.

Turner, Fox and Viacom are the first publishers to sign on.

“Historically, we sold using show mix from an OTT perspective,” Noah Levine, SVP of advertising data and technology solutions at Fox, told reporters at a press briefing. “There have been challenges developing a sense of identity on OTT. The reason you need a source of identity is so you can activate data.”

While Roku’s marketplace isn’t a singular solution to the challenges of buying inventory on connected TV, Levine said it’s a step forward.

“What Roku has done here is probably one of the first steps needed to be able to do programmatic on connected TV in a meaningful way because, guess what, there’s no cookies on connected TV,” he told reporters.

Roku hopes the marketplace will ultimately serve its viewers, too. If publishers can run more relevant ads, the viewer is more likely to engage with them. Roku doesn’t sell all the inventory on its platform. Instead, advertisers can buy inventory from one of the company’s partners, such as Fox, Turner or Viacom. So it doesn’t hurt Roku now that it can monetize inventory it doesn’t itself sell.

Less waste is more engagement, or so the ancient marketing adage goes.

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Alarming Falls in Linear Viewing Loyalty

The news that viewers are switching away from conventional live TV is hardly new. But a report from equity analysts at Deutsche Bank, and prompted by a detailed examination of the main advertising catalysts for Europe’s main public broadcasters, shows alarming falls in viewing loyalty.

The report says that the costs of reaching these viewers is rising for advertisers and as a consequence the bank is recommending to investors that they “SELL” their stakes in French commercial broadcaster TF1, as well as Spain’s Mediaset and Atres Media (the former Grupo Antena 3/A3TV).

“Over the past two weeks we have conducted our quarterly discussions with eight representatives of advertising agencies responsible for buying TV advertising, and industry sources connected to sales houses. We speak to the local offices of the major agencies to get on-the-ground views. The major conclusions on ad spend on TV are that in the UK, late money has delivered surprisingly strongly, but in all other markets, spend has been less than the broadcasters’ guidance at 1Q results over April & May,” says the bank.

The consequences are quite dramatic. The declines have prompted Deutsche Bank to revise downwards its expectations for TF1 by 10 per cent-11 per cent, and 2 per cent-9 per cent for Mediaset Spain and Atres. German media giant RTL is trimmed by 1 percent, although a surge of advertising coming into ITV and Mediaset Italy has encouraged the bank to upgrade the pair by 3 per cent-4 per cent.

As to the decline in viewing linear TV, the bank says: “That we are watching more on-demand programming from tablets, mobiles and smart TVs, as well as PVRs, is well established. But the hard data across Europe is very partial and the measurement of on-demand viewing is inconsistent and partial. But we now have full data for 2017 viewing levels across all European markets from national measurement agencies & Group M. This shows that the linear viewing decline accelerated over 2017. Even in Germany, which has been relatively slow to adopt on-demand, saw viewing fall in 2017 for the first time. It also shows on-line is failing to offset live viewing declines.”

The bank adds that this shift to on-demand viewing means a consequential share loss for Euro broadcasters. “Compare a 5-30 channel home in a traditional DTT (Freeview/TNT) world with the almost unlimited content available on a mobile device, tablet or a broadband-connected “smart TV”, from YouTube, Amazon Video, Google Play, Vice News, Eurosport Player and national platforms like Daily Motion, Magine, Cofunk, Magine TV. Not all of these carry advertising, but many do. In this world, traditional broadcasters are clearly failing to replicate their share of TV advertising spend. We have shown this in prior TV Ad Monitors for all Euro TV groups, but we now have estimates based on our industry contacts for the latest UK online video ad share.”

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The Frenemy Report: 15 Minutes of Attention

HBO’s new management is making a splash, with John Stankey, an AT&T exec who now oversees HBO in his new role as chief executive of Warner Media, telling the team, “We need hours a day,” referring to the time viewers spend watching HBO programs. “It’s not hours a week, and it’s not hours a month. We need hours a day. You are competing with devices that sit in people’s hands that capture their attention every 15 minutes.”

More and more publishers are heading OTT, with WIRED announcing a TV channel. It will be free and ad-supported … a model which could also apply to Amazon in the near future: UK job ad indicates Amazon wants to bring TV advertising and free TV channels to Prime. The living room increasingly makes sense for capturing the attention of elusive Millennials and Gen Zers– check out this VAB study which found on average, in any given minute, the ad-supported multi-screen TV 18-34 audience is six times larger than Facebook and over two times larger than YouTube in the summer months.

Why are we so concerned with the Frenemies, anyway? Maybe it’s because they (Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat) are feeding us “behavioral cocaine,” disguised as notifications, in a bid for our limited hours of attention.

Given all the trade-offs, I believe the most likely scenario in the near term is an increasing divergence of strategies between brands.

Brands and influencers are excited about the potential for longer-form videos that can tell stories to Instagram’s 1 billion users. But traditional Hollywood making content for IGTV? Don’t count on it, because there’s no way to monetize the pricey programming they might make for the new app, especially when so many other outlets are willing to pay.

YouTube said it provide funding in about 20 global markets to support news organizations in “building sustainable video operations.” The grants will let new orgs build out video capabilities, train staff on video best practices, and enhance production facilities. YouTube says it also will expands the team focused on supporting news publishers.

Philo will use funds raised from its Series C to invest in new product features and enhancements — including a “social media TV experience,” according to Deadline — as well as to expand its marketing efforts. Philo’s other existing investors include A+E Networks and Scripps Networks, who participated in a $25 million round last November. Per Crunchbase, Philo has raised roughly $107 million in venture funding to date.

Mr. Stankey described a future in which HBO would substantially increase its subscriber base and the number of hours that viewers spend watching its shows. To pull it off, the network will have to come up with more content, transforming itself from a boutique operation, with a focus on its signature Sunday night lineup, into something bigger and broader.

Brands are only a small portion of the entire universe of YouTube videos, according to analysis by Tubular Labs, which tracks 4 billion online videos. In part that’s because of the sheer overwhelming scale of YouTube, where around 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute. It’s easy to feel lost there if you don’t have a smart video strategy to get your content seen.

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Will IGTV And Digital Long-Form Bring Big TV Ad Budgets Online?

by Edward Kim

Facebook recently announced the launch of IGTV, a hub for long-form, vertical videos that’s accessible from both a new app and the existing Instagram app.

Facebook’s stock soared on the news – Wall Street believes Facebook may finally see a share of Madison Avenue’s TV advertising budgets. YouTube has recently been targeting the same prize. But is the timing right?

There’s no doubt we’ve hit a video engagement tipping point. GroupM forecasts that time spent with digital video will exceed that of TV in 2018, and it’s happening on increasingly more social platforms, apps and connected devices.

IGTV is just the latest wrinkle in video complexity for brands. It’s safe to presume that different watching behavior will emerge in paid and organic content on the platform, as it has already on Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook in-feed video and Facebook’s other premium content home, Watch. That list doesn’t include other massively growing and unique video hubs such as Amazon’s Twitch and

But there are enormous challenges for shifting big-brand budgets from TV to video. Digital video is not a monolith – switching from Instagram to YouTube is not like changing the channel from ABC to NBC. Brands can’t just re-cut existing digital video content – whether it’s repurposed TV ads, digital-native ads or branded content – and plop it in new distribution channels and expect them to be successful.
So, what will make brands decide to shift investment? Let’s look at the pros and cons:

Why big budgets will move online:

Better targeting than TV: One of the core advantages of digital video is the specificity of targeting, both with first-party and third-party data. While targeting using third-party may be limited given privacy concerns, the use of first-party data for video targeting will only get more valuable as the reach across platforms and publishers continues to grow.

(Some) repurposing can help: The growth of long-form channels and over-the-top (OTT) video provide a natural home in the short term for brands to repurpose existing longer-form video content.

Branded content baby steps: Digital native publisher brands like BuzzFeed and Vox have demonstrated fluency in mastering new video formats, such as their recent moves into OTT video on Netflix. Integrated buyouts offer an opportunity for brands to capitalize on new video inventory without investing completely in production.

Why big budgets won’t move online:

Lack of standards: Outside of video completions, the different platforms have zero common standards. No one agrees on even what a video “view” is, and it’s only going to fragment more across the platforms. This makes both measuring top-of-funnel basics reach and frequency challenging, let alone trying to measure ROI.

Brand safety and viewability: Managing brand safety with digital video will get worse before it gets better – it’s still a top concern of CMOs, and agencies are so worried about it they’re teaming up to create consortiums to address it. On the viewability front, brands like Adidas are expressing concerns about Facebook in particular; Adidas recently announced it would suspend Facebook video ad buys because it worried that as much as 30% of its spend was wasted.

ROI: Brands such as P&G have pulled back significant amounts of awareness-oriented digital spend over a lack of efficacy, and recent research from Nielsen shows that among digital channels, all types of video are still perceived by CMOs as less important than social and search.

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