Advertisers are again struggling to increase engagement with their online and digital campaigns. The answer may lie in a new approach to social and earned media that moves from chasing merely influential users to targeting celebrity influencers.
After a decade of watching engagement with traditional digital ads strive for the bottom, marketers had a brief reprieve with social media and how it enabled easy sharing of branded content. Not anymore. The big social nets are now far more concerned with selling placements and generating ad revenue. That means tighter conduits to their members. At the same time, heavy social users are gravitating towards niche nets and even becoming selective about what they post and share.
As one answer, brands are putting greater importance on what kind of content they create. Want people to engage with your campaign? Make sure what’s being communicated is engaging to begin with — make it relevant, timely, and easy to share. More importantly make it either useful, entertaining or both. It’s not guaranteed to drive up engagement, but it does set the stage for it.
On the other side of the equation, the formula for ramping up engagement may lie in how digital natives, and especially millennials, increasingly seek out product information from online experts with common interests. Online bloggers/vloggers, commentators, product reviewers, social media gurus and even bona fide celebrities who’ve carved out online clout are showing increasing reach and authority on the internet.
They’re the new influencers.
For many, they’ve become their celebrity product endorsers, speaking directly to them through the various channels they’ve come to trust for information, and often playing a pivotal role in their purchase decisions. They’re authentic in that they connect to the right audience and deliver branded content in the right context. That gives them credibility with both fans and brands.
At Ayzenberg, we’ve seen proof where harnessing digital influencers can propel campaigns to far exceed expectations. In one campaign we ran last year for Microsoft, we supported the launch of four Xbox Live products with an online video and social media program built around four YouTube stars. Each ‘YouTuber’ delivered a live cast show featuring one of the products, with promotions targeting their subscriber base and social networks. Engagement was through the roof, yet the proof in the pudding was how the games performed at launch. Granted, the lineup was a solid one — it included the now blockbuster hit Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition — but thanks to day-one awareness, two of the games set launch sales records. That included Minecraft breaking the record for a Xbox Live Arcade launch.
More recently, we ran a digital campaign for Warner Bros.’ Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game based on the DC Comics universe. We mixed digital influencers with comic book experts and celebrities to promote a virtual tournament dubbed “Injustice Battle Arena,” where the game’s superheroes and villains squared off in face-to-face battles, and fans voted on the outcomes. The campaign garnered nearly 19 million views over ten weeks and more than 850 percent ROI in earned media value.
After these and other campaigns we’ve charged up a new weapon aimed at the new influencers – the Influencers Outreach Network, or [ion]. It’s the product of three years of experience running these types of programs, but it’s more than a wrapper on proven methodology. It’s a proprietary platform designed to first connect brands with the right influencers, then accurately measure results. The results are authenticated to put a ROI metric on campaigns. That’s whether they’re based on impressions and earned media value or go deeper down the conversion funnel.
Once a brand activates an [ion] campaign, they have the opportunity to partner with a custom built network of popular community operators and channel owners. Currently more than 7,000 affiliate influencers are part of the [ion] program, and it’s growing daily. These are YouTubers, bloggers, industry professionals, theatrical, television and other social media influencers. Their reach is staggering, with audiences in the hundreds of millions and engagement metrics measured in billions.
Ayzenberg [ion] Demo Reel
For targeting, [ion] is categorized by content specialty to best reach a specific audience, whether gaming, entertainment, technology, music, parent or beauty. In every category, Ayzenberg’s [ion] enlistees have shown to excel in acting as real-life product endorsers. They share what they know with their subscribers and sell a brand or product as an experience they found worthwhile.
That’s one part of [ion]. The other is the platform’s proprietary analytics tools that allow for precise measurement of campaign metrics. KPI can be built on goals for impressions and brand awareness, such as cost-per-view (CPV), or the complete journey down the funnel with conversion and cost-per-acquisition (CPA). Whether it’s earned media value or CPA, results from [ion] campaigns are authenticated by a third party company similar to traditional media buys.
We know how fast targets move when it comes to digital and social media. Influencer outreach isn’t a silver bullet but it’s a powerful way to engage consumers. Why? Because when these campaigns are executed properly, they reside somewhere between social and affiliate marketing. That sets them up to not only generate significant awareness but engage and grow through their own volition. At the same time, access to data at every step of the way equips stakeholders to evaluate individual parts of what they’re running mid-stream, so there’s even an agile component to it. Dial in what’s working, turn off what’s not, and keep doing it until all efforts and resources are focused where they need to be and you’re getting the most out of your spend. That’s one BFG to have in the marketing arsenal.
For more information on [ion] contact Kristin Bruno at email@example.com.