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.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Feel free to share this post with your audience.
Marketers have always loved celebrity endorsements, and who can blame them? Research shows these partnerships are good for both brand lift and sales.
This article was initially published on Think with Google and we have re-shared it here for your benefit.
But consumer behavior is changing, especially among younger generations. Today, millennials are just as likely to seek style tips from a fashion vlogger like Zoella as they are from a more traditional celebrity like Victoria Beckham. Innovative and effective marketing campaigns recognize this shift and work it to their advantage.
That’s exactly what Clorox brand Brita did this year when it paired up NBA superstar Steph Curry with YouTube creator and social influencer King Bach. The result of this unlikely collaboration? A hilarious made-for-YouTube ad that generated over 2 million views and led to a 2,000% mobile search lift.
Kate Stanford, Google: Let’s start with some context for those who haven’t seen the ad. What was the thinking behind it and what were you trying to achieve?
David Kargas, Clorox: We’re always carrying out social listening to learn more about our customers, and one thing we noticed was that people would regularly complain about a roommate or partner who drank the last of the water in the Brita and didn’t refill it. Refilling an empty Brita used to take a few minutes, but our new product, Brita Stream, filters as you pour, so it eliminates the waiting.
The aim of the ad was to increase awareness of this product, specifically among urban millennials. We wanted to do it in a fun, playful way using a story that our target audience would relate to. So we took that annoying roommate scenario we’d heard them talk about on social media and used that as the starting point for the ad.
Steph Curry has been Brita’s brand ambassador for almost two years. What made you decide to pair him up with social influencer King Bach?
Kargas: In the past, we’d always used Stephen in the “traditional” advertising spokesperson way: we’d come up with a script for a 30-second TV spot in which he’d endorse our brand.
But this time we were particularly interested in targeting millennials. Given what we know about their consumption habits—research suggests they’re turning more and more to streaming services like Netflix, and online video platforms like YouTube—we decided to experiment with made-for-YouTube content. It didn’t make sense to try and apply the rules of TV to YouTube, so we went all in and teamed Stephen up with a YouTube creator.
What millennials want from brands is an authentic voice.
When it comes to influencer marketing, how are the rules of online platforms like YouTube different from TV?
Kargas: When we work on a TV spot, we pretty much control the entire creative development process, from writing to directing to editing.
This campaign was completely different. From the get-go, we decided we wouldn’t be creating, writing, or art directing. It would all be left up to King Bach. The main theme we kept in mind was the importance of letting go of control. That ensured we were creating compelling content that resonated with Bach’s audience.
Kai Hasson, Portal A: Traditionally, marketers tend to take a more heavy-handed approach to messaging. But what millennials want from brands is an authentic voice—content that comes across as genuine and fresh.
The best way of achieving this is to loosen the reins on your typical process, and trust your team to create entertainment that can break through the online noise.
Everyone involved should know two things: your objective and your boundaries. Everything else is creative space.
It takes a big leap of faith for a brand to hand over so much creative control. What advice do you have for other companies looking to do something similar?
Kargas: The first thing you must do is make sure you’re working with a creator that’s right for your brand. Portal A drew up an initial list of around 40 different YouTube creators, based on their popularity among our target audience.
We then narrowed that down and took a short-list to Stephen. If we were going to pull off the ad’s “roommate” concept in a genuine way, we had to make sure there would be the right chemistry between him and the creator we chose.
Once you know you’re partnering with the right people, letting go of control is much less scary. We could see straight away how seriously King Bach takes his craft. He didn’t want to do anything that he couldn’t walk away from and say, “This is outstanding.”
That being said, it’s really important to be clear from day one about your expectations. Everyone involved should know two things: your objective and your boundaries. Everything else is creative space. Remember, you’re working with creators because they have demonstrated a skill, so you have to stand back and let them do their thing. It pays off.