Numbers vary, but it's fair to say that influencer marketing is a billion-dollar-plus industry. So it's high time we have some standards in this playground.
Since there are so many social platforms — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube — and since each platform measures in different ways, it has historically been difficult for marketers to compare apples to apples.
The ANA is doing its part to level-set and get everyone to agree on definitions for awareness, conversion, and engagement.
Of course, this does not solve everything. After all, engagement on different platforms doesn't look the same. An engagement here might mean a like, while somewhere else it's a share or video play.
In addition, vanity metrics don't necessarily show an impact on true business objectives, but that is a whole other conversation. Still, I applaud this latest move and encourage marketers to think about what it means and where this can go.
It's a Start!
These guidelines are also very much about the last-click outcome from the content. There are other places to measure along the influencer journey as well, from the makeup of the influencer's followers to cost implications of repurposing content, to perception shifts or purchase data.
Again, these guidelines are a good start, but don't necessarily encompass the full breadth of what could, and should, be measured.
I think this will level-set the industry and help us avoid inflated metrics that we see.
Ultimately, if we are all aligned with using these guidelines as our north star, this could also help resolve some of the issues both influencers and brands face, as they relate to negotiations.
This unified way of measuring will allow us to understand, apples to apples, performance in the space so we are all working off the same data and negotiating based on actual output.
Unified Measurement across Digital
These guidelines also help unify influencer measurement with other areas of digital marketing.
This will allow for holistic campaigns to be measured side-by-side or in unison with other channels. This seems rudimentary, but is often a major challenge, especially when working with multiple agencies or teams on one project.
The Future Looks Bright
Our firm is already measuring based on the ANA guidelines, but we think there are more opportunities to measure and model out influencer success further.
We have been investing more time in understanding how influencer content is impacting other forms of media through attribution and halo analysis. While this is a good level-set, those in the influencer marketing space can and should do more to understand impact.
Ultimately, we are excited to see some framework and guidelines for the industry, which are greatly needed.
Influencer marketing is still the Wild West in many aspects, so we are hoping that our peers in the space will actually apply these guidelines. Doing so is sure to improve the industry holistically.
"and since each platform measures in different ways, it has historically been difficult for marketers to compare apples to apples."
This is what many, including the ANA, do not seem to understand. Meassurement is the least of your problems. It's not apples to apples. Influencers use Instagram differently than they use TikTok or YouTube or Twitch or Twitter, or any other platform. Many use different platforms to reach different audiences and engage in different ways on different platforms.
Stop trying to push square pegs into round holes. The more entertainment and media evolves, the more traditional entities in the industry try to keep going backwards.