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Marketing Featured South Asia

India’s influencer marketing scene on upward 25% CAGR trajectory by 2025

Mumbai, India – With India slowly opening to the the influencer marketing scene to allow brands to connect directly to consumers, the sector is expected to be valued at ₹2200 crores by 2025, or a 25% CAGR trajectory increase from 2021’s ₹900 crores, according to the latest report provided by INCA, the influencer and content marketing solution arm of GroupM, shows.

Part of the reason influencer marketing is thriving in the country is due to the higher preference of brands of utilizing influencers for the campaigns. According to the insights, 75% of influencer marketing campaigns feature influencers such as social media stars, while 25% only for conservative celebrity personalities.

“Social media has given normal people an opportunity to build their own brand, create communities via content. Standard influencers have more authenticity and are more relatable than traditional celebrities.Specialist and niche influencers command a high degree of authority on the topic and bring in more credibility in comparison to mass celebrities,” the company said in a press statement.

In terms of categories being most active in the sector, personal care campaigns garnered the highest percentage of particular brands tapping heavily on the type of marketing, with 25% of respondents saying. These are followed by food and beverage (20%), fashion and jewelry (15%), and mobile and electronics (10%). In sum, these industries contribute to 70% of the volume of influencer marketing in India.

“In the last two decades, digital advertising growth has accelerated and has become ubiquitous. It’s been gaining share in the marketing pie by transforming its presence at the back of advertising technology platforms such as search, commerce, social, and programmatic. Marketing technology platforms such as analytics, CRM, and CMS have also contributed to this growth journey by enabling brands to understand consumer behavior and their journey on and off the internet,” INCA said in a press statement.

The evident growth of the influencer marketing scene in India is best seen with the report’s data stating that 84% of brand marketers are leaning towards launching one influencer campaign this year, and around 81% of brands who have already launched influencer campaigns are satisfied with the ROI it brought to them.

In addition, around 75% of marketers say that influencer campaigns had a positive impact on the consideration and purchase stage of the sales funnel, and 89% of marketers said the ROI from influencer marketing was better or comparable to other channels.

For Prasanth Kumar, CEO at GroupM South Asia, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of influencer marketing by brands, as they are making it an integral part of the brand marketing strategy and is now an important part of the company’s media mix recommendation to brands.

“The key factor that has got brands interested is the bond of trust and authenticity that influencers share with their audiences, thus helping brands associate with an influencer to leverage the same. This report is our effort to help marketers understand various aspects of influencer marketing in the country. Consumer behavior is changing at a fast pace, and we want to empower marketers with the knowledge that can help them,” Kumar stated.

Meanwhile, Ashwin Padmanabhan, president for partnerships and trading at GroupM India, commented that the objective of their report was not only to quantify the industry but also attempted to define and standardize the various formats and industry terms. 

“Influencer marketing industry is at a point of inflection and can take off, subject to the industry initiating to measure, quantify and make investments in influencer marketing accountable. We hope this report will catalyze the industry and ensure the power of influencers is harnessed effectively,” Padmanabhan added.

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Marketing Featured ANZ

New insights unveil rising trend of ‘finfluencers’ among female Aussie millenials

Sydney, Australia – With the rise of social media influencers, there has been an evident rise as well of online influencers who teach more about finance or so-called ‘finfluencers’, and the number is steadily growing in Australia among female millenials, new insights from influencer marketing platform HypeAuditor shows.

According to the data, despite the fact that these ‘finfluencers’ only make up less than 1% of all influencers in the country, they have proven to be incredibly impactful, particularly for brands investing in sponsored content and wanting to engage with commercially minded millennials. On TikTok, the finance-related hashtag #moneytok has more than 3.8 million views, as well its accompanying hashtag #stocktok with more than 361 million times as of this writing.

Among ‘finfluencers’, 34% are female aged 25-34 years, while only 16% are male in the same age bracket. Meanwhile, the balance shifts when looking at ‘finfluencers’ aged 35-44, of which 25% are male and only 9% are female.

The audiences these ‘finfluencers’ reach have a similar skew, with 57% of their audiences being female, of which 44% are aged 25-34, and a further 19% are aged 35-44. The demographic highlights a trend among mostly female consumers wanting to be educated by influencers who look or seem ‘just like them’, who use layman terms and empower them to become financially empowered.

According to Alex Frolov, CEO and co-founder at HypeAuditor, there has been a steadfast growth of the finfluencer phenomenon in the country, and brands wanting to engage with commercially savvy influencers and communicate with money-conscious consumers are taking advantage of this evolving trend.

“It’s interesting to see this movement driven mostly by millennials, reflecting an ongoing trend of turning to, and trusting online information and sources when making significant life decisions or going through major milestones such as buying a first home, investing in shares for the first time, or re-assessing the best superannuation options. Finfluencers are stepping in where traditional financial institutions or more established enterprises have historically made this information challenging to navigate and [take] action,” Frolov said.

However, he cautioned about brands and consumers translating online content into actionable financial advice, stating that while many finfluencers in Australia have a strong finance background, not all are qualified to provide financial advice.

“For finfluencers with a strong and highly engaged audience, it could become challenging for their audience to know the difference between a finfluencer’s observation or piece of advice for a specific scenario, and their advice for the follower themselves. With more finfluencers joining the scene, brands will need to stay vigilant in determining the most relevant and reliable finfluencers to partner with, and consumers will need to exercise caution analyzing financial advice,” Frolov concluded.

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Marketing Featured South Asia

Budweiser India awards influencer marketing mandate to Voxxy Media

New Delhi, India – Premium beer brand Budweiser in India has recently appointed influencer marketing and social media company Voxxy Media to handle its influencer marketing mandate. 

The team will be responsible for Budweiser’s overall influencer management, playing an important role in meeting specific campaign objectives, to continue in increasing brand awareness and in helping gain traction within the target media amid the booming influencer outreach realm.

Kulbir Sachdev, founder at Voxxy Media, said, “Budweiser is an iconic brand, and we are super stoked to be partnering with the dynamic team of Budweiser India in this exciting journey. Voxxy and Budweiser have year-long plans to create the most viral, captivating and ROI-focused social media influencer campaigns which will be launched in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, Ankit Kataria, associate director at Budweiser India, commented, “Over the last few years, the influencer base in India has grown rapidly and has now evolved to command a large chunk of content. We want to be where our consumers are and, in this endeavor, are delighted to partner with Voxxy for our influencer marketing requirements in India.”

He added, “Voxxy’ s work has been engaging and delivering on the parameters similar to our business objectives. We look forward to a growing partnership with the Voxxy Media team.”

As a results-driven influencer marketing service, backed by analytics and performance, Voxxy Media helps create digital narratives that are about people and brands.

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Marketing Featured Southeast Asia

AnyMind Group extends AnyTag beyond ad, pr agencies, unveils new features

Singapore – Marketing technology solutions provider AnyMind Group has recently announced that it is opening up its influencer marketing platform, AnyTag, to talent management agencies, influencer agencies, and multi-channel networks.

The AnyTag platform, which is already being used by marketing and public relations agencies across Asia, has a feature for influencer companies that enables deeper social media and channel analytics of their own influencers, identification of brand collaboration opportunities, and real-time campaign reporting. It also provides influencer companies with a single platform to better understand their talent and keep track of brand collaborations that their talents are working on.

Furthermore, influencer companies can also tap on AnyMind Group’s offerings in the direct-to-consumer space, including cloud manufacturing, e-commerce, and logistics, to enable their talents to create their own brands and sell their own branded products.

Following this endeavor, the company has also announced new features for marketers including lookalike modeling of influencers through natural language processing (NLP) where they can easily identify influencers who are similar to high-performing influencers from previous campaigns and easier identification of brands an influencer has worked with before which can also aid in decision-making when selecting influencers for a campaign.

Both initiatives aim to make influencer marketing more collaborative, addressable, and accurate.

AnyMind Group’s Chief Operating Officer Rohit Sharma said that they now have the technology and business infrastructure to drive greater industry advancement across Asia and beyond.

He further shared that over the years, they have built a highly robust platform not just with a keen focus on functionality, but also one where they help marketers unlock opportunities for big data utilization in influencer marketing – from understanding user conversions and conversations to predictions, recommendations, among others. 

“We will continue innovating and pushing boundaries in the technological aspect of influencer marketing and drive the next stage of evolution,” said Sharma.

Most recently, AnyMind Group announced the launch of the new features on its publisher platform, AnyManager, to help mobile and web publishers to tap on the continued growth of mobile usage. The company also announced a strategic partnership with Japan-based multi-channel network (MCN) UUUM to mutually utilize UUUM’s resources and AnyMind Group’s technology and data for influencer marketing and direct-to-consumer (D2C) offerings.

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Platforms Featured South Asia

Qoruz launches India’s first-ever comprehensive influencer search engine

Bengaluru, India – In order to aid brands in working out their ideal influencer marketing campaign, Qoruz has launched India’s first-ever comprehensive influencer search engine, which indexes hundreds of thousands influencers, from celebrities to macro to micro and nano-influencers, from various social media platforms.

Qoruz Search Engine enables marketers to discover millions of relevant influencers in seconds, filter by influencer attributes, category, region that fits their target audience. Marketers can discover, identify, filter and make a campaign plan as per their requirements. Advanced features like filters, detailed analytics, insights and campaign planning tools will be available for a small license fee.

Praanesh Bhuvaneswar, co-founder and CEO at Qoruz expressed his excitement regarding the search engine launch, and believes that the Qoruz search engine, starting with India and then internationally, will help marketers to discover relevant influencers for their objectives by giving them data, deep insights, and campaign management tools.

“We envision a connected Influencer ecosystem; where influencers and creators are not looked upon as ‘vehicles of reach” or ‘human ad banners’ but a world where brands and marketers forge tighter mutually beneficial relationships with influencers, beyond ‘money’ or ‘reach’,” Bhuvaneshwar said.

According to Prabakaran B., co-founder and CTO at Qoruz, the search engine utilizes data from top social media like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs; and across diverse categories such as fashion, beauty, photography, food, lifestyle, comedy, family, music, films, technology, and games.

“There are also ready-to-use curated lists available on Qoruz with the most popular searches done for influencers and creators like ‘Top Content Creators in Instagram’, ‘Top Food Instagrammers in Delhi’. For clients who require deep data, insights, advanced filters and campaign management, these can be available for an annual license fee,” he stated.

Qoruz is currently mentored by Nitesh Kripalani, former director and country head at Amazon Video India, and serves brands such as Omnicom Media Group, Goibibo, Marico, among others.

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Technology Featured

SG-based martech Affable.ai raises US$2M to boost influencer marketing platform

Singapore – Martech startup Affable.ai has announced that it has raised US$2m in total funding, which will be used by the startup to bolster its influencer marketing platform to more clients globally who seek aid on running high-impact influencer marketing campaigns.

The funding was backed by venture capital companies Prime Venture Partners, Decacorn Capital, and SGInnovate.

Founded in 2017 by Nisarg Shah and Swayam Narain, Affable’s end-to-end Influencer Marketing Platform allows brands and agencies to streamline their influencer strategies throughout the planning, discovery, activation, and reporting phases. Affable uses advanced machine learning and big data analytics to help brands find influencers, manage and measure campaign performance. 

With the influencer marketing process being extremely manual, time-consuming and completely based on guesswork, Affable provides brands with data-driven insights and analytics to help streamline their micro-influencer marketing process.

Affable also utilizes artificial intelligence and machine learning to create accurate influencer-brand mapping and measuring campaign ROIs. In addition, Affable indexes all the social media users and identifies potential influencers that a brand could work with. 

Using Affable, marketers can find influencers, manage them campaign-wise, and measure post-campaign analytics such as engagement from in-target audience, influencer success(as a group and individually), measure the overall effectiveness of the campaign, as well as measure clicks and sales.

According to Nisarg Shah, CEO and co-founder at Affable.ai, they see a huge opportunity in working with brands to enable the much needed, data-driven influencer marketing campaigns, as the brands and agencies, they work with reinforce their belief in the need for analytics to streamline the micro-influencer marketing process. 

“Prime brings a depth of experience in scaling global SaaS companies, operational expertise, as well as a strong network that we can leverage during our growth phase and we are very excited to partner with them. At the same time, participation from our existing investors is a great endorsement for us,”

Affable currently serves a multitude of over 45 top brands and agency clients including Huawei, Wipro, Pomelo, Fresh, Omnicom, dentsu, and WE Communications. The company tracks more than three Million Influencers across Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.

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Technology Featured Global

Bambuser acquires martech Relatable, combines competencies for live video shopping

Stockholm, Sweden – Global software Bambuser, which primarily specializes in interactive live video streaming, has announced the acquisition of global martech company Relatable, as both companies are vying to use their combined resources to empower the future of live video shopping as well as influencer marketing campaigns.

The acquisition, valued at US$24m, will also help enable brands and retailers to scale high-impact livestream shopping implementations and drive business results.

Bambuser’s recent move follows after a year of remarkable growth for Bambuser and widespread adoption of the company’s SaaS solutions for interactive e-commerce. The two companies will operate and service customers independently, yet collaboratively. 

In line with the acquisition, Relatable founder Martin Garbarczyk will join Bambuser’s executive team as chief revenue officer (CRO), contributing his extensive experience building high-performing sales organizations to further accelerate Bambuser’s global growth.

“Bambuser and Relatable are a match made in heaven. I’m excited to build a global sales organization that leverages the enormous market demand and fuels growth to our SaaS business,” Garbarczyk said.

As a first step in the new relationship, Bambuser will add creative and strategic services from Relatable to its customers, enabling them to amplify campaigns before, during, and after Live Video Shopping events. Teams will be co-located in Sweden, the U.S. and U.K., where each company has an established presence, to enhance synergies and drive opportunities for cross- and upselling.

“By joining forces with Relatable, we increase our market pole position with an unrivaled SaaS offering that clearly differentiates us from the competition,” said Maryam Ghahremani, CEO of Bambuser.

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Marketing Featured ANZ

L’Oréal Australia joins AiMCO to bolster transparent influencer marketing

Australia – Global beauty brand L’Oréal in Australia has joined marketing board Australian Influencer Marketing Council (AiMCO), to support transparency and best practices in influencer marketing.

AiMCO is an industry body that brings together the expertise of a diverse group of industry professionals, marketers, and content creators who are committed to elevating influencer marketing best practice, campaign measurement, and industry knowledge. Its members are the guiding force behind its mission, principles, and industry codes.

Through the partnership, the members of the beauty brand, namely Emma Williamson, director of customer and social media governance, and Jenna Adamson, corporate legal, will be joining the newly formed AiMCO Marketer Advisory Council as the first fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) beauty brand.

According to AiMCO, this move by L’Oréal Australia proves the importance of influencer marketing, as large brands are now getting on board with the council whose members are drawn from influencer marketing tech, social media, and talent agencies, as well as legal specialists, along with influencers and content creators. 

Commenting on the partnership, Williamson said that they are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with AiMCO and other leading Australian influencer marketing businesses to help shape the landscape in an ever-evolving marketplace.

“Influencer marketing is here to stay. We recognize it is a critical lever in how to engage new audiences, reconnect with our existing consumers, and tap into forms of content that drive consumer trial and purchase. As an ever-present component in our media mix, it’s crucial that we get influencer marketing right. Consumers are savvy and if we want them to trust our brands, we need to ensure that the influencers we work with share our values and are authentic and transparent,” said Williamson.

Meanwhile, AiMCO’s chairman Detch Singh shared, “We’re excited to welcome L’Oréal Australia as the first of many brands to be joining AiMCO as a member. Influencer marketing is core to the media mix and it’s natural for leading and innovative brands such as L’Oréal Australia to want to play a role in shaping its future. The newly formed AiMCO Marketer Advisory council will be essential in ensuring we are addressing the needs of brand marketers with our initiatives moving forward.”

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Main Feature Marketing APAC

Virtual influencers – are they all they’re cracked up to be?

Influencers are being upended by virtual influencers – computer-generated influencers that operate like real-life ones. Brands are increasingly seeking to partner with them, or even create them, to tap into their fan base through endorsement deals. Virtual influencers have emerged in the last few years as, arguably, the next big thing in influencer marketing. 

Characters like Lil Miquela (3.1 million Instagram followers) and Knox Frost (791,000 followers) who are both Instagram-verified, have worked with all sorts of brands and entities, from Calvin Klein and Dior to Samsung and the World Health Organization. According to an analysis published on Bloomberg by OnBuy, a U.K.–based online marketplace, Lil Miquela is estimated to make over $10M per year — for the company that created her. With 3.1 million followers on Instagram, HypeAuditor, an analytical platform for influencer marketing, estimates that she charges around $12,500 per sponsored post, making her the highest-paid ‘robot influencer’.

Virtual influencers have quickly gained traction within the industry. Technology is enabling studios and advertisers to create virtual influencers that seem almost real, giving them personalities and lives that they share with consumers, to try and form a connection with people. And brands have found that they offer certain advantages over real influencers. 

First, they are cost-effective, and content can be produced relatively quickly — it is very simple for a graphics designer to give a virtual influencer a new wardrobe and place them in any location on Earth, compared to having to fly or drive a real influencer to a specific location for a photoshoot. 

Second, they seem to be relatively effective. Influencer marketing is already one of the most effective methods to bridge the gap between a brand and its audience by leveraging an influencer’s authenticity and engagement with their fanbase. Our research finds that virtual influencers have almost three times the engagement rate of real influencers, indicating that their followers are more likely to like and comment on their content compared to the content produced by their human counterparts. 

Third, and perhaps most important, is that they are controllable and pose a significantly lower risk to a brand’s reputation. Given that virtual influencers are scripted and controlled by their creators, there’s much less chance that they will embarrass their clients by posting something offensive or controversial on their social pages. So in many ways, virtual influencers may appear like the safest option for brands.

However, brands would be wise not to get too caught up in the hype, as there are some issues around virtual influencers. 

While virtual influencers have a higher engagement rate than human influencers, HypeAuditor’s research found that 48 percent of virtual influencers had negative follower growth in 2020, meaning that they are losing followers. This may be because the accounts were losing bots, or that their audience simply did not like the content and were unfollowing them.

Another concern is around regulation. Many have questioned if virtual influencers conflict with the rules set by advertising watchdogs. For instance, the Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics requires an influencer to disclose that a post is a paid endorsement of a product or service. And this is complemented by the Competition and Consumer Act which covers ‘misleading and deceptive conduct’. Obviously, virtual influencers have not and can never try the products they promote themselves, which can be viewed as misleading and deceptive, even if they disclose the paid partnership. 

The fact that some virtual influencers look so life-like could also potentially mislead the public. HypeAuditor’s survey of Instagram users in 2019 by consultancy firm Fullscreen found that 42 percent of millennials and Generation Z have followed an influencer on the platform without realizing that they are computer-generated. 

Because of this, it is predicted that the rising popularity of virtual influencers will also lead to calls for them to be regulated, so that they don’t deceive the public or mislead their followers. 

And while virtual influencers are less likely to go off-message, brands do need to carefully consider what kind of biases a virtual influencer or their creators might have, as this could still cause damage to their brand’s reputation. Diversity and inclusivity are also highly important to consumers today, so brands must be careful when hiring virtual influencers instead of real human ones. French fashion house Balmain received criticism in 2018 for using three ‘diverse’ virtual influencers in a campaign, rather than hiring actual diverse human beings. 

Influencer marketing has huge potential in the advertising industry, as it enables brands to form much more human connections between themselves and their audiences. While there is certainly a place in ad campaigns for virtual influencers to create engaging content, brands would be wise not to forget about their human counterparts. 

This article is by Alexander Frolov, CEO and co-founder of HypeAuditor.

HypeAuditor is an analytical platform that helps brands manage the effectiveness of their influencer marketing campaigns.
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Main Feature Marketing APAC

Why genuinely enthusiastic customers are still the best marketers for your brand

Customers are now finding the call of the ordinary as most trustworthy and genuine as opposed to celebrities who attracted brand limelight of the era gone by.

Imagine you go to a shop to try a new coffee variant recently launched by a fairly well-known brand. You come home, try it and are overjoyed with its taste and aroma. What is the next thing you do? Make another brew or share your joy with your family? Perhaps both.

For most consumer brands, the simple act of sharing your experience about a product for its quality, sales service, or price point makes case for a massive marketing opportunity. It is not new to realize that people do business with people and buy products from brands they trust. So when you give a high-five to a brand, the noise moves across the room, making others tempted to trust your first-hand feedback and buy the same product on their next visit to the supermarket. The distinct way to grow any business is to make your customers chatter about your product.

Voice of the common man

Think gossip is negative. Well, indeed it is not. It is as crucial as our voice on things that matter. In the seeds of gossiping lie humanity’s power to bond with others socially, influence decisions, foster life-long friendships and create powerful communications. This was unique to homo sapiens that allowed the species to cooperate with strangers and helped them gain an edge on the animal kingdom.

Gossip is one of the unheralded foundations of our species and its survival, concludes Yuval Noah Harari in his best-seller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Consumers were always leaders of opinions, sometimes in whispers and at other times aloud.

The times we are going through provides a very fertile ground for consumers to use opinion to manoeuvre market trends. The numerous social media platforms give consumers access to share their gossip with the world at large, influencing purchase decisions and changing the purchase funnel from linear to circular.

An active customer is uniquely positioned to give brands social proof on their superior product or service, getting more interested customers and benefiting the brands with good returns. These customers or brand advocates are in no way forced to speak highly of any brand and this gives them true power to speak what is best in a brand.

The strength of such brand advocates lies in their authentic enthusiasm to endorse a brand and it is because of these truths that people trust their reviews and pay close attention to words. Eight in ten customers (83%) believe that trust is the first emotional metric that influences brand loyalty, according to the 2019 Deloitte study ‘Exploring the value of emotions-driven engagements’. Just as the world’s strongest brands are built upon a few core sets of truth, the same thing can be said about powerful brand advocates.

Times of trusted advisors

Traditionally, brand advocates have always been popular superstars with a mass appeal. But changing consumer sentiments showed a shift towards user-generated authoritarian content that has appeal to a targeted audience, making way for the rise of internet celebrities–they are none other than you and me with expert knowledge of industry product types and ability to spin a convincing tale of her own experience with the brand.

The power of storytelling in marketing cannot be emphasized any further. New-age influencers are compelling storytellers pushing the brands they endorse by the sheer force of their belief and the fan followers they possess. They are not just loyal to brands but actively champion their products to influence the buying habits of others. And that is why influencers are the most valuable customers that a company can have.

These are the same people who got an opportunity to broadcast their water cooler conversations on their social media handles. Not all of them have a follower count in millions but what they lack in reach, they make up with their intimate personalization of the brand. When these netizens recommend a product on Instagram, their words seem as genuine as those from a friend.

Call for meaningful conversations

These digital natives have emerged in interesting times. They are nudging brands to take a step back and focus on quality and service of products to drive conversations rather than mindlessly putting their money in large-scale paid marketing campaigns.

Brands are forging strategic partnerships with influencers to change buying habits of whole communities. But once brands orchestrate the social talks, it shakes the very foundation of trust and authenticity that had actually made these netizens’ murmur effective.

To have customers become cheerleaders, brand managers are tasked with finding innovative ways to delight buyers and nudge them to become advocates. It is only when advocates create buzz out of a genuine desire to underline a brand’s product or service can they be called truly trustworthy.

Asif Upadhye director at SPRD
This article is written by Asif Upadhye, director at SPRD.

Stories.PR.Digital is a public relations firm in India that provides brands reputation management, thought leadership, and corporate communications, as well as content, media tracking & digital influence.