Influencer marketing combined with native advertising is a potentially powerful and compelling combination.
VonShine Industries, a boutique firm that, among other things, specializes in social listening as well as crafting audience segmentations, has devised native campaigns and observed interesting results.
VonShine worked with an agency that created short films with thought leaders that included consultants, CEOs, writers, inventors and academics. VonShine’s job was to create a conversation about the films and the ideas they advanced. The campaign, for a leading financial services firm that VonShine declined to name, ran from September through December 2015, in finance-oriented trade publications with banners that linked back to the firm’s website and YouTube.
“Our task was to make the films a conversation point and generate buzz around the topics,” said Josh von Scheiner, founder and principal, VonShine Industries. Other assets included a six-episode podcast, sponsored blog posts and panel discussions hosted on Twitter -- all of which sought to engage influencers in verticals the client cared about: healthcare (genetics, genomics and big pharma), information technology, financial services and banking. Institutional investors and financial advisors also were targets.
The podcast episodes and blog posts were placed within a native ad buy in leading trade publications. They were positioned as sponsored content. Placing influencer content within the native buy was a smart move.
To seed the podcasts, VonShine's budget was significantly less than that of a media agency that drove video views, but the VonShine campaign managed to deliver 16x more engagements than anticipated and significantly drove down the cost per engagement that VonShine had anticipated.
That significantly lower cost is attributed to the content being aligned properly with the target audience, says von Scheiner. The target audience appeared to respect what the thought leaders had to say. Too, the content was placed in an editorial context. For example, people on Investor’s Business Daily TV go there to consumer content on the video portal—they want to hear what influencers have to say.
“The influencers we worked with are successful because they’re fantastic content creators. …Consumers trust these individuals and what they have to say,” von Scheiner explained.
“Usually when people think of native [content] they think it’s the brand creating the content,” von Scheiner said. “I’m not a big believer in that, but I think native is good for the top and bottom of the funnel. I think it’s horrible at shifting or creating an opinion.”
With influencer marketing and social listening, VonShine Industries operates in a kind of middle ground that’s being ignored: “ I don’t find creative agencies doing great influencer campaigns,” von Scheiner said. “The influencers are what make the campaign. It’s their content that’s important, not the brand’s.”