Influencers can be powerful brand allies, but these collaborations require an entirely new approach to marketing, according to Carat Global Chief Strategy Officer Sanjay Nazerali. The original article can be sourced here, but for your benefit, we’ve captured the highlights.
Together with YouTube and Nielsen, the team from Carat analyzed the results of hundreds of brand and creator videos in the U.S. and the U.K. to understand the impact of influencers for brands. This is what they found:
1. Influencer marketing is not the same as celebrity marketing
YouTube influencers, however vast their reach, are absolutely not “today’s celebrities,” and celebrity marketing and influencer marketing offer fundamentally different benefits for brands.
Typically, celebrities are more effective at driving recall than creators (84% versus 73%). Given that a celebrity’s job is to be famous and memorable, that makes sense.
Where YouTube creators really start to gain the upper hand is in deeper brand involvement. Brand familiarity is a good example. If we want an audience to really understand us, our work, our values, or our products, then collaborations with YouTube creators are 4X more effective at driving lift in brand familiarity than those with celebrities [see the data].2
When it comes to purchase intent, it’s an even match: our research found that influencers were just as likely as celebrities to drive buying decisions [see the data].3
Celebrity marketing and influencer marketing offer fundamentally different benefits for brands.
2. It’s not just a ‘beauty’ thing
Beauty brands were one of the first to team up with influencers and creators have established a huge presence among the YouTube beauty community. About 86% of the top 200 beauty videos on YouTube were made by creators rather than professionals or brands.[see the data]
But what’s interesting about the findings is just how far YouTube influencers stretch beyond the beauty category.
In nine additional categories, including auto, alcohol, snacks, and toys, working with influencers lead to lifts in brand metrics, from familiarity to affinity to recommendation.
3. The ‘how’ matters as much as the ‘who’
Celebrity marketing has historically focused on endorsement, sponsorship, and product placement. Influencer marketing has developed far more options, and it’s important to understand which of these work best—and for which marketing goals.
Research found that deep thematic integrations with creators drove the highest results for brands. These are more involved integrations where the influencer plays a role in creating a piece of content—such as a demo—with the brand. They’re far deeper than product placements and they work more effectively.
While there were many consistencies across categories, there are also some nuances, which are important for brands to understand. Simpler brand integrations, like a product endorsement or an ad featuring a creator, also showed positive results for brand affinity in all categories tested.
4. Don’t lose sight of why people love YouTubers
We often assume that the right YouTube influencer is either an aspirational version of our target audience or that they’re just like celebrities. Neither of these assumptions is correct, and it’s perhaps here that celebrity and influencer marketing differ the most.
Whereas celebrities need to be trendy and stylish, consumers expect creators to be friendly, funny, and sometimes irreverent.
Irreverence is interesting because it drives credibility. Irreverence strongly suggests independence, and it’s this that builds trust. It can also be incredibly valuable for brands. If a creator usually ridicules things they don’t like, you can be sure that when they praise something, they mean it.
Influencer marketing is more than a bandwagon. It’s a powerful, scaled form of communication.
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