New Report: Brands Shift Budgets To Influencers, Leverage AI

A recent report by CreatorIQ reveals that 67 percent of all marketing firms increased their budgets for influencer marketing between 2022 and 2023, with 76 percent diverting funds from other marketing channels to do so. While approximately 61 percent of brands that used influencers saw a substantial increase in their sales, many are now looking toward AI to enhance the impact of influencer marketing.

Brands Focus On Measurement And Optimizing Influencer ROI

According to the report Can Creator-Led Marketing Really Drive ROI?, based on a survey by CreatorIQ, 94 percent of organizations could attribute direct sales to creator content, and brands are now using influencers to boost campaign performance across multiple channels. Seventy-six percent increased their budgets to bring influencers into digital, email (48 percent) and owned social (42 percent). According to the report, 51 percent of firms were proactive in evaluating influencer impact, tracking consumer engagement levels, conversion rates (28 percent) and quality of impressions (11 percent). 

As marketers review the numbers, they are also thinking about how to expand the value of their investment in influencers. This has led some marketers to introduce AI as a component of their influencer strategy to enhance campaign performance. In a recent survey by Influencer Marketing Hub in The State of AI In Influencer Marketing 2023, 63 percent of marketer respondents planned to use AI to identify potential influencers or help them manage their campaigns.

Despite many marketers’ interest in integrating AI with their existing influencer strategy, efforts to replace human creators with AI influencers have produced mixed results. While 49 percent of marketers saw virtual influencers as highly effective, consumers in a study quoted in the report found virtual influencers less trustworthy and distant than human influencers. In addition, the survey found no substantial difference between the purchase intentions of consumers interacting with virtual and human influencers. According to the report—that may mean both virtual and human influencers have an equal potential to stoke purchase intent.

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

But other data shows that AI-powered influencer experiences can drive meaningful engagement for specific demographics such as Gen Alpha and female audiences.

The Takeaway:

Influencers can deliver powerful results for brands, but AI shouldn’t be ignored as a tool to optimize influencer investment. While consumers may not trust virtual influencers as much as their human counterparts, consumers still follow and interact with AI influencer content. That means savvy marketers can leverage the power of engaging human influencers and adopt AI tools to speed content creation and automate repetitive content tasks without compromising performance.

How TikTok’s Latest Features Are Helping Advertisers Be More Creative, Relevant And Effective

TikTok offers marketers powerful reach and now, the ability to integrate greater targeting capabilities and performance monitoring features into your existing marketing strategy. Here are three ways marketers can optimize their TikTok strategy to connect with the platform’s always-on “prime time” audience. 

Performance: New Targeting And Branding Options Allow Marketers Greater Insights Into Campaigns

TikTok has approximately 150 million users in the US, and close to one billion worldwide. That’s a powerful reach. TikTok’s Max Pulse is a new tool that allows advertisers to choose to run their creatives next to the top 4 percent of creators on TikTok. That means your brand can avoid lower-quality, less relevant content and place your creative in front of a highly engaged, immense audience. And advertisers also have the option of selecting content from a roster of about 20 premium publishers like The Washington Post for their creative to appear alongside, through Pulse Premiere

Since its launch, campaigns that include Pulse have proven to increase brand recall by more than 9.8 percent and awareness by 6.8 percent, by placing brands next to the top culturally impactful content viewed by highly engaged and primed audiences.

Commerce: Advertisers Will Find It Easier To Determine How, When, And Why People Are Engaging With Their Ads

TikTok’s video insights tool offers powerful performance monitoring features. Using the tool, you’ll be able to examine videos at a frame-by-frame or second-by-second level to see where, clicks are occurring, how long retention lasts, and where conversions are occurring. You will also be able to compare your performance data with other videos that you’ve been running paid against and compare everything to industry benchmarks. 

Creative: TikTok Offers A New Integration Between TikTok Ads Manager And CapCut

CapCut, created by ByteDance, has thousands of professional video editing templates and effects available for free. Now, CapCut is available for TikTok marketers to use to edit and create videos and ads simply and efficiently, release them with a few clicks on TikTok, and sync them to TikTok Ads Manager. For creators and the brands that depend on them, that can save time and optimize budgets. 

According to the company, 56 percent of TikTok users say that ads on TikTok have led them to discover new products or brands, and 48 percent of TikTok users are interested in making a purchase on or from the TikTok platform. 

Too Big To Fail: What’s Happening With TikTok?

The world’s biggest brands don’t appear to be disentangling themselves from Tiktok, as ad spend on the platform increases by 11 percent and Congress mulls The Restrict Act.

TikTok: Come On In, The Ad Revenue Is Fine

TikTok, which doubled its year-over-year ad revenue in 2022—earning approximately $10 billion—is having a moment. Like a popular high school quarterback who got into a spot of bother at the Valentine’s Day dance, TikTok is still at the “cool kids” table, with some of the world’s biggest brands still directing spend to the platform despite the threat of legislation which might impact the platform. In March, advertising grew by 11 percent on the platform, with Pepsi, DoorDash, Amazon, and Apple as top advertisers, despite some creative agencies advising caution, per The Financial Times. Current forecasts suggest that ad revenue will reach nearly $15.2 billion by the end of 2023, per WARC Media, up from $9.89 billion in 2022.

Banned Or Not, TikTok’s Surge Will Make It Hard To Abandon

For marketers seeking to reach Gen Z and Gen Alpha, TikTok is critical to branding, marketing, and direct sales through influencer marketing for many brands and retailers.

With 672 million downloads in 2022, TikTok was the most downloaded mobile app last year. According to Sprout Social, Gen Alpha spent 62 percent more time watching videos on TikTok than on YouTube last year, with the average user spending 95 minutes per day watching videos. 

TikTok’s growth is also unlikely to end soon; the app’s user base has grown by an average of 340 million users per year since 2018, per Statista. That will make TikTok hard to abandon if, as some countries have, the US bans its use outright.

Yet TikTok’s future may be uncertain, even if two billion people will likely use the platform in 2024, per Statista. TikTok’s future as a viable platform for marketers may depend on upcoming legislation.

New Legislation May Impact TikTok’s Future

For many government workers, TikTok has become off-limits on personal devices used for work. Britain, Canada, France, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, the governing body of the EU, and the US have all issued rulings restricting government employees’ use of the app in recent months. These rulings were based on lingering security questions that the governments felt were not adequately addressed by numerous statements from the company, including those of Shou Chew, TikTok’s CEO, who declared before the US Congress that TikTok was not “owned or controlled by the Chinese Government.”  TikTok, has protested that 60 percent of its shares are owned by international investors, with 20 percent of the shares owned by employees and 20 percent by founder Zhang Yiming.

Currently, the US is considering The Restrict Act, which may impact access to TikTok, but could also change the way other social media companies interact with consumers, marketers, and private data. Portions of the bill read as follows;

  • This bill requires federal actions to identify and mitigate foreign threats to information and communications technology (ICT) products and services (e.g., social media applications). It also establishes civil and criminal penalties for violations under the bill.
  • Specifically, the Department of Commerce must identify, deter, disrupt, prevent, prohibit, investigate, and mitigate transactions involving ICT products and services (1) in which any foreign adversary (such as China) has any interest and (2) that poses an undue or unacceptable risk to U.S. national security or the safety of U.S. persons.

If the bill is passed, it could lead to further scrutiny of TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps, as well as other social media companies with foreign ownership. The bill has, not surprisingly, been met with protests from politicians and various nonprofits.

SXSW: Despite Uncertainty, Marketers Have A Healthy Appetite For TikTok

Over a two-day period at the beginning of this year’s SXSW festival, TikTok held panels and workshops at its inaugural event for independent agencies to better understand the platform. 

TikTok’s uncertain future was largely absent from those discussions, however, the overwhelming interest in how to capitalize on its command over Gen Z and the future of commerce on the app was clear.

TikTok’s FYP Event For Agencies

On the 44th floor of the Hanover Republic Square in downtown Austin, TikTok brought creators, brands and agencies together in over a dozen well-attended talks and workshops.

One consistent message from the invitees at the FYP event—and elsewhere at SXSW—was a desire to reach new audiences on the platform while understanding and embracing the uncertainties that go along with it, whether that meant seeking out new measurement solutions to tie platform goals to clear and measurable KPIs, or navigating cultural moments through strategic risk-taking on the platform.

“We had some really great conversations with leadership and internal stakeholders about how 2023 is going to be our year for TikTok,” said Courtney Landolfe, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing at J.Crew.

All Eyes On TikTok

Despite the backdrop of a potential ban, brand marketers, agencies and media companies remained bullish on continued investment into TikTok as a full-funnel marketing channel.

Zachary Ricchiuti, Associate Vice President of Client Delivery at Kepler, shared the company’s plan to take a long view to TikTok, noting they are “road mapping our evolution on the platform, not just three months from now, but taking a two-year horizon and [changing] the entire infrastructure and how we activate from a creative standpoint.”

“Ayzenberg is working with TikTok on behalf of several result-oriented clients. Outcomes to date have been more than impressive,” said Eric Ayzenberg, CEO of and Ayzenberg Group. “It’s important to take a 30,000-foot view on social innovation, especially around short-form video and TikTok. The results for upper-funnel brand awareness are undeniable. Simultaneously, we are now entering yet another transformational phase around social commerce to drive full-funnel results,” he said.

Carly Carson, Head of Integrated Media at PMG, also shared how the company is prioritizing and positioning TikTok as a media platform: 

“We’ve been on a tough journey just like everybody else here over the last couple of years, and what has been really exciting has been how it transformed from a big, high-impact flash in the pan, single-moment bucket, to what is now becoming an always-on full-funnel part of our—not just social platform ecosystem—but our total digital ecosystem.”

TikTok Rewards Risk

TikTok has always been a grey area for brands wading into the platform mainly through the efforts of savvy, chronically online social media managers and platform-native content creators. And while the prospect of a ban seems more of a clear-and-present danger than previous threats—especially in a year of platforms in jeopardy—that hasn’t stopped social media managers from pushing for more risk-taking and extending that principle elsewhere.

At the panel ‘Navigating Calculated Risk On Social Media,’ Zaria Parvez, Social Media Manager for Duolingo, talked about how TikTok has changed the role of social media managers and the appetite for risk in social.

“Calculated risk has just encapsulated the essence of Duo on TikTok. When we first started our account, it was very basic, very language-learning focused, and what you’d expect from a language-learning app,” Parvez said. “And the big calculated risk that we took was when we shifted it to Duo being a creator himself.”

Parvez noted that in the past decade, social media managers have gone from following an approved script to ad-libbing—to writing their own script and delivering it across millions of devices billions of times. Part of that process has been educating internal stakeholders about communication on the Internet in 2023 and consistently accelerating the risks taken.

When it comes to brand leaders, the perspective is similar: risk-taking and TikTok should be understood as complementary. Patrick O’Keefe, VP of Integrated Marketing Communications at e.l.f. Beauty gave the following advice: “When you’re thinking about leaning in, you’ve got to take risks. We took a lot of risks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But at the end of the day, if you don’t, you’re not going to win on the platform,” said O’Keefe.

The Future of TikTok

Commerce was a common refrain for what attendees and panelists were most excited to see on the platform in 2023.

“It’s a repetitive answer because everyone on the stage has said this already, but commerce has to be the most exciting piece,” said Kepler’s Ricchiuti.

“The improved shoppability of TikTok ads continues to grow and diversify, we’ve been talking a lot about shops for J.Crew and several other clients at Kepler … that’s probably the biggest area for us—and for everybody,” he continued.

Report: How Gen Z Social Search Changed Product Discovery

As Gen Z increasingly embraces social search to discover new products, marketers are finding new opportunities to leverage data and create new organic paths to purchase.

‘Passive’ Product Discovery: How Data Creates A New Path to Purchase

Social commerce is experiencing a boom despite consumers’ concerns over inflation.

According to recent findings by Influencer Marketing Hub, social market value is expected to hit a historic $1.3 trillion in 2023, representing a 30.8 percent increase from 2022, when social commerce sales worldwide added up to an estimated $958 billion. Central to social commerce is targeted advertising relevant to the real-time content and conversations consumers engage with. It places brands within an intimate context of social interactions where interest drives engagement and curiosity in the new is at its peak. Social commerce can create astounding results, as demonstrated by Chinese influencers Viya and Li Jiaqi, selling over $3 billion in goods in a single day.

Social commerce works because it integrates easily into content discovery without feeling like an interruption, per a recent report by GWI.

“As users scroll, they see numerous ads that reflect their shopping preferences,” the report reads, describing TikTok social commerce. “You can even be watching a non-ad related video, and TikTok will pick out keywords for a user to be taken to different results.” According to the report, about 46 percent of Gen Z and millennial TikTok users make an impulse purchase online every 2-3 weeks.

The report shows that most social media users on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok also use the platforms to discover new products. That’s critical for brand marketers seeking to reach Gen Z.  According to a 2022 report by Salesforce, 56 percent of Gen Zers want to hear messaging about new products and services, and 76 percent are interested in sponsored digital experiences from brands.

Yet connecting with Gen Z consumers through content means marketers need access to the right data—insights that help marketers interpret trends and translate them into content or ad experiences Gen Z may want to seek out rather than avoid.


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Marketers Will Increasingly Look To Lifestyle And Demographic Data

According to recent consumer data from Experian, retail marketers are going back to basics and focusing on gaining insights from data that allows them to understand what drives consumer interest (listed as “Modeled Lifestyles” in the chart below) and how those demographics typically behave. This represents a shift in marketers’ use of highly segmented custom audience data last year. As consumers tighten their belts and become more judicious in their purchasing, impulse buys may become less frequent. That makes a deep understanding of consumer interests and priorities essential to understanding where to direct marketing spend.

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The Takeaways:

Brand marketers should focus on what works in social—relevance, intimacy, originality—and match campaigns to the best examples of successful engagement.

Social platforms are gold mines of user-generated content. Tailoring content or ad experiences requires granular insights into demographic behavior, but it also follows some basic common sense.

Social commerce works well because of the social graph—when something works well, tastes good, or makes us feel great, we naturally want to share it. Brands on social should share value, not simply messaging. Products that solve problems, offer new value in an original way or present an experience relevant to trending themes found through social listening tend to resonate as authentic with users. Focus on:

  • Personalization: Social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook provide personalized content recommendations based on user behavior and preferences—the invitation to engage doesn’t require any work on the part of the consumer, it just scrolls into view. Marketers can leverage that data to connect with consumers in an organic fashion by ensuring that products or content shared are relevant to the audience’s current needs and interests, as well as to the moment.
  • Authenticity: Gen Z wants to keep it real. Connect with their desire for authenticity by presenting products and experiences like a friend would. Offer content that answers questions, solves problems or presents products that deliver a new flavor of delight that is surprising, unique and relevant to the moment.

‘Dead Space’ Campaign Taps Into World-Building And Social Challenges

Coinciding with the return of EA’s beloved ‘Dead Space’ franchise, Nightcap, the team behind the new tie-in social campaign @TheBench, chatted with us about introducing the world of Dead Space to new audiences while connecting with a long-dormant—but dedicated—community. EA and Nightcap wanted to create a campaign that matched how gamers interact and share content organically, inspired by the Dead Space ethos: a compelling story told in a progression of puzzles. This led the team to build a series of immersive and collaborative content experiences, tailored to the way audiences discover content across multiple platforms and devices.

An Organic Approach To The Campaign—A Focus On Community Building

Leveraging technology to support community building was key to engaging new audiences and long-time Dead Space fans. According to research from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), most people game at least once a week and are motivated by a desire for a sense of community, in addition to the entertainment value games provide. According to a recent report from the ESA, 83 percent of players state that video games create a feeling of community, and playing games “can introduce people to new friends and relationships.”

In addition, the ESA states that gamers reported playing video games helped them develop cognitive skills (88 percent) as well as creative skills (86 percent) and collaboration abilities (86 percent).

Knowing this, Nightcap developed a campaign tailored to gamers, connecting their interests in immersive storytelling with their aptitude for collaborative, fast-paced problem-solving.

How The Campaign Began

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“EA came to us to develop a social media program and corresponding rollout strategy for the remake of Dead Space that would allow our core franchise fans to participate in digital actions to earn rewards and attract the gaming community’s attention,” said Miranda Feneberger, Senior Strategist at Nightcap. According to Feneberger, EA let Nightcap take the reins to develop a unique approach to reintroducing the franchise to a new generation of gamers.

Expanding the Dead Space universe via immersive reveals over time is integral to the series’ marketing legacy, beginning with No Known Survivors in 2008. The original website promoted the first Dead Space release by introducing viewers to a playable immersive experience that unfolded over nine weeks, delivering two four-chapter stories that established the Dead Space world. Comprised of audio logs, video, and interactive 3D components, the two-story sequence, “Misplaced Affection” and “13,” launched with users clicking on one of nine floating body parts, which landed them in the Ishimura’s (the starship setting for Dead Space) Organ Replacement Lab. From there, users could explore the character profiles of workers on the Ishimura through audio logs and undergo a risk assessment test to assess their chances of survival.

For the new Dead Space release, EA and Nightcap reimagined the campaign’s interactive storytelling to leverage social media’s collaborative nature in a way that made world-building more immersive and connected to game lore. Cryptic messages began appearing on Twitter to invite fans to solve a QR-code-based puzzle. As fans collaborated to solve the puzzle, they shared their results on Twitter, Instagram, Discord, and Reddit. When solved, fans were rewarded with a link to an unlisted YouTube video showing footage from inside the Ishimura, and clues to access additional content, eventually unveiling the date of the gameplay reveal.

“EA gave us the gift of creative freedom, allowing us to design a program with a unique narrative that existed in the periphery of game canon,” said Alex Tafet, Creative Director at Nightcap. “We took this baton and sprinted with it, investing the creative time and energy into defining a compelling, unique narrative that existed within the larger world of Dead Space.”

Per Tafet, the campaign is an “Apocryphal Prequel” to the main game, existing alongside the larger story of the game, adding detail and nuance but not directly impacting the events the players will experience. Nightcap proposed a central protagonist for the journey, and EA provided a name: Chief Engineer Ariel Rousseau. 

“Rousseau is a character who exists in the game by way of audio logs, which are discoverable lore-builders that can be found throughout the game,” Tafet stated. “We were given the keys to the Rousseau kingdom and fleshed out a compelling backstory for the character, which defined the thematic and creative direction for our program.”

Rousseau’s story unfurls through a series of chapters published on the game’s official in-world Instagram account, @TheBench. Players who follow @TheBench receive urgent messages and cryptic clues from Chief Engineer Rousseau aboard the USG Ishimura.

Players then become members of the Comms Relay Crew to solve puzzles, decode data, and uncover hidden information to save Rousseau, the ship, and humanity. 

According to Tafet, the creative experience of The Bench was named after the player customization workbench in the game and is derived from Dead Space’s node map mechanic. In the game, Nodes are collectible items that can be exchanged for upgrades at the workbench. The Nightcap team used the Node Map design to inform the structure for the advocacy program’s visual language and functionality.

Fan response has been enthusiastic to the trailer, released in November, garnering 2.5 million views on the Official Dead Space YouTube channel and launching numerous sidebars on Reddit.

From super fans displaying new tattoos acquired in honor of the upcoming release to first-time players posting about their new interest in the game, the campaign stoked engagement through direct replies to posts and clues shared across multiple platforms.

Dead Space will launch on January 27. Watch the official trailer here.

State Of Mobile 2023: Social App Usage Soars, US And TikTok Top Consumer Spending

A new report from reveals that American consumers and TikTok lead in average revenue per user (ARPU), but is the platform delivering results for marketers?

TikTok Leads In Average Revenue Per User

Last year, according to’s State of Mobile 2023, Android users spent over two trillion hours on social apps, representing 17 percent YoY growth over 2021. That tracks with findings earlier this year showing a rise in consumer hourly usage of social apps in key global markets such as the U.S. and the U.K., with users averaging between four and five hours actively engaged with social platforms per day.

While time spent on Facebook and Chinese platform Tencent QQ declined, TikTok, Snapchat, WePlay, and Zhihu showed strong user growth globally, per the report. TikTok has shown almost uninterrupted growth in user acquisition since 2018 and now leads other apps in another key metric, average revenue per user. That’s helped to contribute to its 215 percent boost in brand value over the last year.

“The US passed Japan in 2020 and China in 2021 to rank as the top market for consumer spending for social apps (though it’s worth noting that China is iOS only as Google Play is not available there),” per the report. “While growth slowed in 2022, top apps like Discord, Facebook, and TikTok have managed to maintain high consumer spending from the gains seen early in the pandemic.”

“TikTok made us reimagine how high consumer spending in apps-especially outside of mobile games-could reach,” the report states. “TikTok’s US average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) is well above its top social competitors at 85 cents per user. Snapchat is second at 5 cents per user with its recently launched subscription.”

Why TikTok Stole The Show In 2022

According to a recent HubSpot survey of more than 1,600 marketers, influencer marketing was central to the strategies of more marketers than any other approach to driving growth. Mobile-friendly web design and short-form video content came in second and third among trends marketers were leveraging most in 2022—all areas where TikTok marketing excels.

For those marketers who embraced TikTok in 2022, many were pleasantly surprised with a significant improvement in status quo ROI, according to a recent Nielsen report with TikTok.

“US paid media ROAS for TikTok was 14% higher compared to all digital media models, while ROAS for paid media was 64% in Europe,” the report states. “Moreover, sales efficiency was two times higher than the digital media average in the US.”

What it means for marketers:

TikTok offers a powerful combination of access to influencers and short-form video content in a mobile-first format. According to the Nielsen-TikTok study findings, TikTok can deliver high ROI consistently. That means developing a long-term TikTok strategy that leverages creators’ powerful influence on consumer spending on social can optimize marketing spend even when budgets remain flat.

“In-feed video is the most effective ad type for increasing audience response in TikTok campaigns,” according to the YouGov post. “Advertisers can enhance ad placement in the app to boost performance and enhance weekly in-feed impression volume by 50%, going by the US model.”

Read more about TikTok and social commerce.

Why ‘Account Of The Year’ Estee Lauder Chose TikTok To Reach Gen Z

Estee Lauder is a legacy brand often associated with older generations—that’s changing as the brand engages Gen Z with a TikTok-focused strategy.

TikTok was recently named Estee Lauder Account of the Year, an honor that reflects the company’s embrace of the platform as a tool to introduce the 76-year-old brand to a new generation. The platform boasts one billion monthly active users spending an average of 850 minutes daily on the app, and is beloved by Gen Z.

But Estee Lauder didn’t buy ads and hope for the best, which was vital to their success, as Gen Z loses interest in ads—even the engaging ones—after 1.3 seconds, according to a recent report.


Why Estee Lauder Chose TikTok 

Gen Z is now more likely to look for products on TikTok or Instagram than Google. According to a recent survey, 72% of Gen Z consumers follow influencers on social media, and 52% trust influencers’ advice on the products and brands they should use.

Estee Lauder’s TikTok campaign was launched in 2021. The campaign collaborated with TikTok creators such as Liane Valenzuela and Mireya Rios, who have a combined following on the site of 14.8 million.

In an interview with Digiday, the social media and content manager for Estée Lauder Lubna Mohsin, stated the brand chose TikTok to reach new audiences in the highly competitive EMEA market because it gets the brand in front of a prized demographic: Gen Z.

“Whilst Instagram is key to engaging our core audiences and deepening our relationship with existing and new consumers, we wanted to push the boundaries in new ways and reach new people,” Moshin stated in the interview. “Naturally, we looked beyond what we were already doing. In TikTok, we saw a unique opportunity to recruit a new, larger audience with a younger demographic.”

TikTok’s Engagement Data Reveals Its Impact

According to Kalindi Mehta, Vice President of Consumer Foresight and Predictive Analytics, Enterprise Marketing & Data at The Estee Lauder Companies, brand marketers need to be careful to recognize foresight when looking at campaign results. What’s working now may not work in the near future – and that can be a challenge when translating insights into strategy.

“You can’t just go by data,” Mehta stated in a Forbes article. “The more rigor you put into building foresight by linking data to meaning to wider [cultural] influences, the more depth you bring to your foresight, the more likely you are to head in the right direction.”

When campaigns go well, it can lead marketers to stick with what they know, rather than looking at new options that may perform better.

“Because we get digital results so quickly, marketers become addicted,” she said. “We see immediate feedback in terms of clicks or short-term sales, so if you’re a marketer who’s nervous about spending your money, and you’re seeing that it’s working right now, you tend to keep your focus there.”

While brands may initially lean into Instagram, newcomer TikTok may actually deliver greater engagement through influencers, per an Upfluence study. While Instagram is highly effective, TikTok is a challenger that’s delivering on Gen Z engagement, said Mehta.

According to  Influencer Marketing Hub, TikTok soared above other social media platforms for per post user engagement. 

  • Micro-influencer engagement rates: 17.96% on TikTok, 3.86% on Instagram, and 1.63% on YouTube.
  • Mega-influencer engagement rates: 4.96% on TikTok, 1.21% on Instagram, and just 0.37% on YouTube.

TikTok’s popularity is predicted to continue rising among Gen Z, per Statista. And that means that legacy brands like Estee Lauder will likely continue shifting spend to the platform.

View Estee Lauder’s TikTok account here.

Twitter’s Day Of Reckoning: Why Earned Media Value Matters More Than Ever

As some of the world’s biggest companies—like General Motors and Dyson—halted their advertising campaigns citing concerns about brand safety, other brands and influencers, like Balenciaga and Gigi Hadid, have left altogether. With 92% of Twitter’s 2022 revenue derived from advertising, new owner Elon Musk has warned employees that the company could face bankruptcy. What’s a social media-focused marketer to do when a client or agency hits pause or delete on a specific social media platform? Look at earned media value.

What is earned media value – and why should it guide marketing decisions?

Earned media value is a metric that adds context and quantifiable value to social media content. It’s key to making decisions about what platform to use or abandon. Earned media value looks at more than clicks—it also examines results—the performance of content within the context of marketing and revenue goals. Earned media value’s data is exceptionally relevant because it looks at opt-in engagement, users voluntarily interacting with content in multiple ways beyond a simple click or a passive scroll-through. When looking at engagement rates on one social media platform or another, it can be helpful to have data-driven insights—or a tool like an earned media benchmarking index that can deliver real-time contextual data—around the clicks and comments that delivered the best results.

Each user interaction is assigned a value based on external, real-world insights through an earned media benchmarking index. This information can be used to guide short-term ad spend strategy pivots as well as long-term social media marketing plans.

Graph displaying values in fluctuation from’s Earned Media Value index. Source: Unmetric

Why earned media value matters more now

Despite Elon Musk’s recent efforts to calm skittish advertisers during a town hall, marketers have been vocal about their concerns about brand safety and Twitter’s future. That makes access to deep audience insights about social engagement performance critical to decisions about campaigns on new platforms and choices about pausing or ending Twitter media spending.

We spoke with the VP of Insights and Analytics at Ayzenberg’s marketing science division, Jocelyn Harjes, about the Twitter debacle.

“At Ayzenberg, we’ve believed in the power of social since the beginning,” stated Harjes. “As a practitioner, key moments in time have stuck out to me – Shoes (Kelly Song), Planking in 2012, and the Harlem Shake in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg testifying to congress explaining what Facebook was, and most recently Corn Kid + The Gregory Brothers bringing us the 2022 song of the year. Social media is a force that can be used to drive good or malice.”

The change in Twitter has been stunning, according to Harjes, and something that begs scrutiny.

 “As Elon took over Twitter, we’ve seen the platform quickly succumb to trolls, as anyone could buy Twitter Blue and impersonate brands. Sure it was funny as the meme-makers utilized the Captain Phillips meme where the hijacker tells the captain that he’s Tom Hanks now. Still, it quickly became something to watch as an impersonator handle of Eli Lilly announced that insulin was going to be free.”

Twitter’s rollercoaster is now no laughing matter for brands and their marketers, according to Harjes. “Through this one tweet, we now have a quantifiable impact that social can have on the value of a company. Additionally, Eli Lilly lost billions of dollars in market cap due to one Tweet, only further supporting the need to understand your Earned Media Value and optimize your marketing efforts through its application.”

For marketers seeking to alter or pause a Twitter campaign, we’re sharing four tips to keep in mind below.

Focus on people, not platforms

Brands on Twitter or any other social media platform are looking for ways to connect with consumers when they are talking about or searching for information that might lead to a conversion. Since consumers search and discuss products and services on multiple platforms, marketers looking to reallocate budgets can look to platforms that deliver content or immersive experiences that spark these social conversations or searches. Platforms like Twitch, for example, can provide new opportunities to engage consumers through influencer content and high-impact video ads and present valuable social listening data that can inform future strategies. While social media platforms may evolve or disappear, social content will still be the most powerful way to create brand ambassadors and build brand awareness.

Deliver utility, not just content

Twitter’s core utility for consumers and brands is connected to its announcement functions—it can broadcast to millions, opens up conversations to a global audience, and provides real-time engagement data in a way that’s hard to duplicate. When it goes wrong—such as the recent faux free insulin announcement by a blue-check account that was not connected to the Eli Lilly company, results can be catastrophic for brands and marketers. Regardless of the future of Twitter—consumers will go where their digital experiences deliver a specific utility that they can’t get elsewhere. For marketers, that means a shift from “Here is what we want to tell you” to “Here is something you can use.” That engagement offer may take the form of a live stream with live comments or a metaverse event that delivers access to reusable downloadable content.

Rethink old ideas about audience segments

As Twitter’s ongoing challenges are causing marketers to rethink social media as a marketing channel, the audience may also merit a rethink. Consumers interact with Twitter for conversation and news, and creative brand marketers can deliver the same type of utility wherever there is an opportunity to engage with them; that means finding audiences wherever they are and learning how to connect with them in more efficient and enduring ways—beyond limited audience segments tied to a single platform. This may entail gleaning insights from new platforms and looking beyond traditional audience segments to broader cultural shifts, such as gaming.

Successful brand messages are really about values

Consumers are not leaving social media, even if its old format has evolved well beyond what it looks like today. Audiences congregate, interact and shop based on values—in every sense of the word. Marketers know how to craft messages to match what consumers care about on a heart level and a wallet level. Decoupling that skill from a single social media channel means translating that expertise into a new model of what social media is and may become. A consumer may be on Twitch while scrolling TikTok on their phone—they may voice search a product from Alexa and they won’t care where the content that delights and surprises them comes from. Marketers who understand the need for balance in messaging, frequency, and context will be able to find them and engage with them based on their old-school skills: wrangling data, creativity, and a deep understanding of their brand to connect—with or without that pesky blue check on their brand profile.

Reaching Today’s Consumers Means Understanding Twitch

Much like film, television and social media, gaming has transformed culture and become part of consumers’ lifestyles. With most adults and youth gaming at least once per week, brand marketers are waking up to the potential of reaching consumers on the gaming platforms they love, like Twitch. However, matching brand messaging to the moment and developing the right long-term strategy to connect with consumers can be complex, even for seasoned marketers. For game publishers, a long-term Twitch marketing strategy is essential—long before a game moves from ideation to development. As a game develops, publishers need access to granular insights on shifts in consumer preferences and gameplay behaviors—insights that can be difficult to glean without access to a powerful analytics suite.

Helixa, an audience intelligence platform, has partnered with Ayzenberg to deliver a webinar on Nov. 16 on how to understand what motivates audiences on and off Twitch, as well as how to build a powerful marketing strategy—or game—that engages consumers and meets their expectations.

Ahead of the meeting, we sat down with Laia Pescetto, VP of global marketing at Helixa, and Alex Lawson, senior research analyst, to hear some of their thoughts on why Twitch is central to audience engagement for brands and game publishers.

Gaming is not just a pastime anymore—it is as essential to our lives as texting or social media. So how did gaming shift from a pastime to a cultural force and lifestyle?

Laia Pescetto: Film, TV and music all had a way of reaching large audiences almost from conception, and with the rise of streaming platforms, we’ve seen an insane increase in content consumption and creation, providing pockets of niche interest to the most passionate audience segments.

Gaming has had the direct inverse journey, starting with a smaller niche and siloed audiences, with no way to easily connect with other gamers at scale. Not to mention the various gaming categories drew extremely loyal fanbases, people identified via the types of games they play, whether first-person shooter or fantasy, etc. The expansion of the gaming universe into online gaming and streaming platforms provided the scale that made it possible to connect with other gamers from anywhere in the world.

Platforms like YouTube and Twitch also allowed gamers to make themselves part of the cultural zeitgeist by playing games for an audience. Combining that with the ability to host esports and game tournaments in a public space like a stadium has made gaming a true cultural force by making it easier for like-minded individuals to connect and share their passion. Now brands have caught up and are creating relevant experiences via partnerships or their own products to connect with this audience that is growing in influence by the day.

What can brands and marketers learn from looking at gaming insights, and what might those insights tell us about how people will relate to media and/or advertising in the future?

Alex Lawson: Product placement has been popular in film, television and advertising for a long time now. For example, many of us remember the iPod commercials and how the songs featured in them would often reach the top of the charts. So if you look at another massive cultural phenomenon in the FIFA games, you can use insights to know what genres of music that audience loves, and if you’re managing talent that would resonate with this audience, it would be a great platform to be included in next year’s game.

The same approach is true for the gamers that stream on Twitch and YouTube as well as the esports teams that play in front of crowds of thousands. Esports teams like FaZe Clan are rebranding themselves as creators and doing brand partnerships that live outside the constraints of digital gaming. We can now do this with everything ranging from what clothing brands our characters could be wearing to what beer should be on the tap heads in a game’s bar to furniture brands in home-building games. The options are nearly limitless for partnerships between game developers and brands/marketers.

We can use those insights to inform campaigns relevant to the passion of every segment under the gaming umbrella. Deeper audience intelligence can also inform game design and marketing to develop new gaming experiences.

The Nov. 16 webinar will cover:

  • Who are Twitch users?
  • Twitch users’ interests, lifestyles and favorite videos games
  • How Helixa can assist with game design and development

Click here to learn more and register for the webinar.