The creator economy is a term used to talk about the vast array of small-time and mid-size “publishers” that are creating content and distributing it through digital platforms like YouTube and TikTok, reaching a vast audience in ways previously unimaginable to the original “big 3” broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC.
In fact, some content creators have amassed audiences that eclipse the prime-time programming of these traditional networks, and easily overshadow the legacy cable networks as well.
Among the many content creators are “influencers” who essentially are sponsored by companies and paid for their content -- which can often be debatably true, authentic content -- and who arguably have tremendous impact in their field.
I’m curious if we should then consider the idea that these industry influencers are as important as -- or even potentially more important than -- traditional analyst firms that create the perception of value in technology and media?
Analyst firms are valuable in helping companies understand the landscape, and how technology can solve the problems facing marketers, product teams and others.
Those analysts rely on the information and insights they sponge up to create their own opinions and seed those opinions into the greater economy.
Those opinions carry weight because of the leading firms they may be associated with, such as Forrester, Gartner, IDC and others.
There are many different analyst firms of varying sizes and specialties, but can they carry more weight than an individual influencer with a strong online following, who calls out great features from great companies and shows how they may be used?
Does it matter that the large analyst firms are paid by the same brands and technology they write about? Does it matter that the influencers may or may not be paid in the same way?
It's an interesting question to pose. In a world where insights and opinions are readily available from any host of experts and influencers -- and in a world where artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly becoming a tool to aggregate, synthesize and push out a point of view that can be tailored to the person asking the questions -- how will the analyst firms maintain their value?
Are analyst firms simply bigger influencers, and should they be treated as such?
I have worked with the analysts for years, both as a technology player trying to get them to talk about us and as a brand looking to them for guidance on technology and partnerships to consider.
There is a value to be gained by working with them, but I can also attest that the pricing is not keeping up with the value in a highly competitive, AI-generated world.
I can work with ChatGPT to build a list of strategies and solutions. I can use a review site as data inputs, load them into ChatGPT, and have them spit out a recommendation based on weighting my own personal needs.
I can even leverage white papers and content that is publicly available from the analyst firms in the output, all without a paid engagement. This is work that could cost me $30,000 a month if I opted to pay for it. That’s a strong savings when you look at it.
The analysts need to find their new groove. The biggest value they can bring is being first-person users of the technology -- and help me as a marketer to truly know the value of the solutions they are examining.
I think they need to become more valid users of these tools rather than simply a third-party point of view on them. In that way, their value is completely defensible vs. AI and other tools I have at my disposal. They can then become more than the digital influencers and create true value in the ecosystem.
As with everything else, there is a lot of change in the industry right now, and if you want to succeed, you have to adapt.