“For the sake of a few bad apples in the barrel, I believe there is risk in the area of influencers,” Weed said earlier this week.
Ahalogy started working a year ago with Moat for third-party verification, demanding its roughly 9,000 influencers drop Moat tags on their sites – most have standalone blogs, as well as social accounts – to weed out nonhuman traffic. Influential, another influencer marketing company, announced a similar partnership with Moat last month.
Some influencers buy followers and try to rig campaigns, but even those acting with the best of faith end up with some fake engagement. One way to fight against it is to treat campaigns as paid. When the KPI is clear, like driving human traffic from social to a customer site or to a store with a coupon, brands can tap influencers without ending up in social media quicksand.
Paid media also brings an added level of transparency to influencer campaigns and much finer targeting controls.
A CPG brand Ahalogy works with, for example, may want to drive diaper sales from a specific retail chain like Safeway, but it’s impossible to break down an influencer’s follower and audience count based on the number of parents with small children who live within a five-mile radius of an eligible store.
“With paid media, we can go get that data and apply it in the buy,” Gilbreath said.
But the large CPGs have a steep learning curve and a lot of competition.
Startup consumer product brands, such as Dollar Shave Club and Beyond Meat, which produces vegan alternatives to meat products, have heavily invested in influencers and shown the viability of driving sales from social that historically would have involved a trip to a supermarket or pharmacy.
As traditional CPG brands figure out how – or at least attempt – to recapture those consumers, they’re going to start pushing for transparency and defensible results.
“And that’s going to mean more attention and pressure on influencer companies,” Gilbreath said.