This year the media industry went from discussing key challenges in the influencer marketing space to taking action, with the formation of a new council overseeing the space.
Led by the Audited Media Association of Australia, and involving agencies such as Hypetap, Vamp, Tribe, Social Soup and Publicis Media, the group is aiming to establish a new code of practice, covering topics such as measurement, transparency and authenticity.
Elsewhere, news that Australia would be one of the first testing grounds for the removal of the Likes count made headlines around the globe - and overtook Twitter feeds. Many within and outside the space welcomed the move from Instagram, which is likely to rollout on a permanent basis worldwide.
Then there’s been the emergence of new platforms, such as TikTok, and brands such as Superdry are already tapping the new influencers for campaign launches.
Read our deep dive on influencer marekting here.
So as the industry finds firmer ground around best practices, and the landscape begins to change with new players, we spoke to experts to see how they think 2020 will play out.
Jules Lund, Tribe founder
Three simple words will change the face of social advertising as we know it: branded content ads. Facebook’s ‘Branded Content Ads’ allow marketers to turn influencer posts into ads, combining social proof with sophisticated ad-targeting tools. Ads lacked influence. Influencer posts lacked effectiveness. The art and science together at last. Soon those influencers will also be able to tag your products in their posts so their followers can purchase them in three taps without leaving Instagram. Influencer marketing will be a force for e-commerce as well.
Anthony Svirskis, Tribe CEO
Instagram itself will lead the way to further validate the category - gifting marketers new tools, measurement and boosting capabilities which will see the category continue to become more dependable, measurable and professional. Platforms like TikTok will stake claims as the emerging force, but Instagram and Youtube will remain the dominant influencer channels, largely because the marketers controlling the influencer budgets grew up on these platforms.
Natalie Giddings, The Remarkables Group managing director
Big business will start to take stakes in influencer products. In the US Coty agreed to pay $US600 million for a majority stake in Kylie Jenner's cosmetics line. Acquisitions of products Australian influencers have successfully brought to market are sure to happen in 2020.
Big companies are always hoping to capture more shoppers with start-up brands. More than ever, audiences are tuning in to hear which products influencers would recommend.
And it works both ways. Often the new products created by influencers are sparked as a result of the direct access influencers keep with their audience. They hear first hand what gaps the current products are the market are leaving open. Or the audience members start making requests.
Detch Singh, Hypetap CEO and founder
With the channel maturing and seeing increased budget allocation, disclosure and standards will play a bigger role in influencer marketing. We’ve already seen this with the establishment of AIMCo here in Australia and stronger Federal Trade Commission guidelines in the US. The social media networks will also start to move more quickly around self-regulation as we are already seeing with YouTube (COPPA) and Facebook’s branded content tool.
As influencer campaigns become increasingly sophisticated, repurposing high performing content and narratives on to other media channels using data will become more commonplace. Performance-based campaigns will also become increasingly prominent and measuring these in greater detail will be key to assess fatigue and success.
All of these elements will drive us back to first principles in selecting creators who wield real influence amongst their communities.
Aaron Brooks, Vamp co-founder
In-depth insights will become an influencer marketer’s number one priority in 2020, for three reasons:
1. With Instagram hiding likes, strategies that rely on vanity metrics are falling short. Marketers now need richer insights that prove their investment is delivering returns.
2. Influencer fraud continues to be a problem. To guarantee brand safety, the industry needs to invest in thorough audience analysis and vet the influencers they collaborate with.
3. Relevancy has finally replaced reach as a the most important aspect of an influencer marketing campaign. The more a brand knows about a creator’s audience, the better chance they have of success.
Filip Sarna, Publicis Media social director
Next year will see the recognition of influencer fatigue, and the need for correction in how to activate through influencers. It will be a transitional year - marking the beginnings of a return to authenticity. Forward-thinking brands will put more of a focus on identifying value-aligned influencers and those who genuinely use their products.
We’ve already experienced this in the back-end of 2019 with the rise of the nano-influencer, where authentic influence is valued over scale.
The industry won’t be moving together; there will be resistance to changing what has become an overly transactional world. But the switched-on marketers are already recognising diminishing returns. The feverish thirst for quantity and reach has pushed influencer marketing too far, overriding the quality of relationships, content, and influence. We will recognise that a correction is needed.
Suzie Shaw, We Are Social managing director
We’re going to continue to see influencers become more commercialised. Those with any scale are now almost entirely brand-funded and are coming to understand the need to deliver a high-quality product that is hard working. The best way to do it is through longer-term partnerships that are based on authentic brand love and creative co-creation, key ingredients to win the trust of the audience and create commercial messages that cut through, engage and drive action.
Taryn Williams, The Right Fit CEO
I think in 2020, we'll see an increase in regulation and the development of best practice guidelines in a further step to build trust, transparency and accountability in the industry. It's now widely recognised that influencer marketing is a valuable tool in the marketing mix and I think this move towards industry governance only further supports this and engenders marketer confidence.
Milly Bannister, GRLKND brand ambassador and founder/director
2020 is absolutely the year of embracing neat, sharp and candid video-sharing, in a saturated public sphere that is exhausted by inauthenticity. I predict that influencers will need to be conveying their message, interests and concepts less through contrived static images and more through piece-to-camera videos, in order to continue reaching the masses and creating impact.
Dan Young, Opr chief digital officer
New commercial models for influencer marketing will emerge during 2020 shaped by platforms, profile and partnerships. As a result of these changes, influencers will have more control over their creative product enabling them to be more discerning about the brands that they work with.
Platforms will provide influencers with new ways to monetise their audiences. This will reduce influencer reliance on advertiser dollars. We’ll see a generation of influencers break out of social and into new mediums along with creative collaborations and partnerships between brands and influencers that hark back to more traditional ambassadorial engagements. With new sources of income, we’ll see influencers take a long-term view and more principled stance on brand partnerships. This change in the dynamic between influencers and brands will create a clear distinction between pay-to-play brands and those that nurture genuine relationships and advocacy. Brands that have played the long game will be at a distinct advantage in terms of collaboration and impact.
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