5Qs with… Ayzenberg’s Robert Brill, On the Value of Influencer Marketing

/ Jul 14, 2014

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When it comes to YouTube, for brands, maybe no strategy is more important than how they choose to work with the site’s native talent. New-era celebrities and influencers in their own right, YouTube creators have amassed large, devout, and young audiences, who often cling to every word as if it’s gospel.

VidCon2014Over-exaggeration? Try attending VidCon sometime.

But even with this opportunity open to brands of all shapes and sizes, it’s not as easy as 1-2-3 for brands to connect with and execute successful partnerships with these creators.

That’s where experts like Ayzenberg and its Influencer Outreach Network come in. The agency has developed a platform to help brands and media companies work with influential talent online, including on YouTube, and engage with their audiences at scale. Essentially, as Robert Brill, executive director of ION, says, ION helps “fill the void between MCNs and the marketer.”

In advance of Ayzenberg’s annual [a]list Summit, we spoke with Brill about the value of infuencer marketing, and how it should be a part of a marketer’s online media budgets.

When it comes to working with YouTube talent, many are affiliated or managed by MCNs. How does that relationship work when looking to execute a branded partnership?

We work closely with MCN partners and their influencers to give the advertiser the best mix of talent that each unique campaign needs. We serve to curate talent, provide creative strategy, and activate campaigns.

Talent that isn’t represented by an MCN is being gathered in our Brand Channel Network to ensure marketers can access them as well.

We don’t ask for access to the creator’s ad inventory, nor do we ask for any type of revenue share or exclusive agreements. For talent our request is straightforward: be available, do great work, and get paid.

When it comes to the web, and especially web video, why are influencers important for brands?

Influencers have amassed audiences just like websites, TV networks, and mobile applications.  However in this world the brand’s message and the content are so intertwined they become indistinguishable. The marketer’s message is delivered and consumed with implied endorsement and authenticity. This builds trust with consumers and results in greater absorption of the message and greater retention of the concepts being presented.

How do you conduct and activate campaigns with YouTubers?

Influencer marketing takes the best of storytelling, eliminates time constraints, and opens up formats.

Brands that demand greater control use logos, marketer-created videos, and influencer mentions for more traditional sponsorships. Brands that can give up some control get placed within the content in an organic way. This is product usage or being part of the story. Other advertisers want the brand to be the star of the show, so we make that happen.

When it comes to online stars, they are very protective of their audience. At the same time, brands are incredibly protective of their own brands. How do you balance that?

Creators care about their audience, and audiences know when they are being marketed to. We never try to hide this. There has to be a natural fit between the advertiser and the creator.

An important part of our job is matchmaking. There is no comScore Media Metrix for quality and tone of an influencer channel. Large subscriber bases don’t equate to brand-safe content. Our experts know which creators work for the interests of the marketer.

What sort of metrics and insights do you provide brands?

Advertisers get video view delivery, click data, and information about the relationship between video views and social activity. This last point helps determine who the engaging content came from. This data also helps illustrate who is good for prospecting and who is good for driving lower funnel activity like consideration and trial.

We ask for third-party click trackers so the client sees back-end conversion data down the purchase funnel, including to conversion.

Our custom reporting interface looks at the flow of video delivery over time, social actions, and the value of social actions.

What was one of your most successful campaigns?

The most robust campaign we activated by far was last year’s “Injustice: Gods Among Us” for Warner Bros. The campaign was a 12-week “battle arena” that answered the question: who would win if two classic super heroes fought?

Influencers like PewDiePie, Taryn Southern, Jason Priestley, and Kevin Smith participated in discussion about the weekly battles. They interviewed fans about the matchup and announced the weekly winners.

Importantly the campaign delivered almost 9x ROI. For every dollar spent on the campaign, Warner Bros. received eight additional dollars in media value stemming from over-delivery of video views and excessive social engagement.

How do you get an influencer’s audience to advocate your brand? [a]list summit: Influencer Marketing is coming up on July 31st in Los Angeles. Meet, share, and shape the future of marketing. Get more information about [a]list summit here.

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