What’s Keeping Brands from Unlocking Scale with Creator Content? The Lack of a Holistic Approach

By Kelly Dye, Vice President of Product and Innovation at Acorn Influence, a New Engen Company

While marketers continue to double down on their investment in creator content — as the influencer marketing industry reached $16.4B in 2022 — there still seems to be a disconnect for brands to achieve targeted outcomes efficiently and at scale while getting the most out of their budgets. Why does the gulf between winning creator content and performance marketing still exist? Because brands are still keeping their creator content bound to social media when it’s time to ideate on how to bring creator content into the broader digital realm where we can measure full funnel attribution.

Influencer marketing, which has been on a maturity trajectory for the past few years, still seems to cause headaches for brands who know they must have it but can’t prove its value. A few brands have leveraged their content wisely in repurposing creator collaborations across other mediums, like web, TV ads, and print production. Still, ultimately, the darling of creator content, short-form video, has remained squarely on our feeds with metrics around impressions and engagements when we need measurement of sales and conversions.

The answer to this challenge lies in creating a holistic approach that addresses the need for engaging and authentic content at a targeted, digital scale while maximizing heavy investments in influencer content with the ability to measure results. There are a few areas in which marketers need to focus their efforts on maximizing their influencer spend.

Crossing the Social Media Barrier with CTV – Creator content packaged for CTV seems like an obvious evolution. Popular influencers like Joshua Neal – who write, film, edit and promote what are effectively short films – are the type of creator that could serve as a vehicle for sharing “buying options” for specific products or brands — successfully jumping from social media to your home screen. The unrealized truth is if we as an industry figure out how to provide the proper technological on-ramps, there’s no reason why a creator like Joshua couldn’t become a CTV-enabled content creator who is also capable of driving return on ad spend for products and brands while maximizing your creator content across digital.

As the insatiable demand for content grows, marketers can reduce consumer advertising fatigue by capitalizing on streaming ad inventory with engaging creator content. Premium influencer content created purposefully for CTV formats can offer audiences authentic advertising, building genuine relationships between brands and their consumers.

Pushing Creators into Performance Marketing Measurement– Influencers can provide campaign executions, corresponding statistics, and other flavors of analytics. But those numbers still lack meaningful context in the broader picture of a brand’s effort across media. Addressing this problem will be key to providing the C-Suite with the confidence to reinvest in the influencer economy with reliable, recurring intention. By unleashing creator content into the programmatic world, we can move away from measuring influencer activities by correlation and vanity metrics. Clear measurement also solves the problem of fraudulent influencer activities, giving brands a window into creators’ actual impact.

What’s Next? – The brand marketer’s go-to solutions are currently siloed. Much like contract negotiations with individual professional athletes, campaign requirements for each influencer happen on a one-to-one basis. Certainly, the proper technology can help automate and scale the process; however, the foundation of successful influencer and creator marketing endeavors are built upon genuine relationships that require a human touch. This will mean a lift of both science and art for negotiating, executing, and tracking influencer campaigns. Further, brands should be integrating relevant data from influencer campaign executions to understand the full context of the entire brand media buy.

As the strategies and practices of influencer marketing grow stronger by the year, unlocking the full scope of opportunity will require much experimentation and breaking down the silos between digital marketing tactics. Progress is already evident as those marketers most willing to delve into it enjoy the business outcomes driven by a more holistic and even adventuresome approach – tapping into everything from shoppable content to CTV. 2023 is poised to be the year influencer marketing expands from social-only orientation to ubiquitous marketing execution.