The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released a guide for marketers building influencer marketing strategies through publishers. Among the infographics and case studies runs a common theme: ask a lot of questions and don’t assume.

Inside Influence: Why Publishers are Increasingly Turning to Influencer Marketing—and What That Means for Marketers” addresses the specific needs of marketers as they relate to the benefits and challenges of influencer partnerships made through publishers.

IAB lists five ways that marketers benefit from publisher influencer marketing programs: objectivity, creative strategy, editorial credibility, personalization and distribution. Objectivity here refers to the fact that publishers do not usually have a hidden agenda in terms of influencer selection. “This allows them to deliver on a brand’s KPIs in a meaningful way through strong, authentic casting,” says IAB.

Over the past few years, marketers have seen the rise of publisher content studios that develop a range of branded content for marketers. In its guide, IAB notes that even with built-in audiences and distribution methods, publishers seek ways to get even more traction.

One IAB case study explores a partnership between clothing brand Lane Bryant and publisher Refinery29. Lane Bryant sells plus-size clothing for women, so it partnered with Refinery29 to create social content with body positive messaging. Refinery29 hired influencer Danielle Brooks to serve as both a spokesperson and creative director of the initiative, which resulted in over 295 million social impressions.

Marketers stand to benefit from the use of publisher influencer marketing campaigns, but every situation will be different. That being the case, IAB strongly urges marketers to ask publishers questions upfront.

Examples of questions to ask publishers include, but are not limited to:

  • How does the publisher identify the influencer(s)–what is the criteria?
  • Will we be able to review/approve the influencers in advance?
  • How can we be sure that the influencer activities align with the brand strategy or other requirements?
  • How much control will the brand have on the creative?

Clear communication between marketer and publishing partners will help protect brand safety, prevent fragmentation and measure ROI based on pre-determined goals.

“There are still important questions that should be asked before approving an influencer program and publishers should be prepared to answer these questions,” said IAB in the guide. “At the end of the day, it’s all about getting your message to your audience in more authentic ways and influencers can be a good way to achieve your goals to make your publisher content studio partnership efforts even stronger.”