‘Influencers as a service’: How a new acquisition could supercharge Australia’s influencer marketing industry

Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash

  • Global marketing-as-a-service company Impact has acquired ACTIVATE, one of the world’s biggest influencer marketplaces.
  • Impact’s Managing Director for the Asia Pacific Adam Furness said the purchase offers a new Influencer-as-a-Service product to Australian businesses, which could boost the local influencer marketing industry.
  • A 2019 PwC report estimated the Australian industry was worth $240 million that year, as the industry shifts towards a focus on micro- and nano-influencers.

For anyone running a business, there are a range of services that outsource complex and resource-intensive systems.

These include sales-as-a-service options like Salesforce, or IT-as-a-service like Amazon’s Web Services. But what about influencers-as-a-service?

Innovations in cloud technology have paved the way for ‘as-a-service’ business models, which promise to facilitate and streamline traditionally difficult processes like marketing.

And a newly-announced acquisition by one of the world’s largest marketing-as-a-service companies shows they want to do the same to the influencer industry.

Earlier this week, the global partnership automation company Impact acquired ACTIVATE, an influencer marketing company that runs a platform with hundreds of thousands of influencers globally.

This purchase offers Australian businesses access to a community in a way never possible before, according to Impact’s Managing Director for the Asia Pacific Adam Furness.

“The technology automates all the backend so you can focus on the human connection, focus on going deep with influencers for your brand,” he said.

How does Influencers-as-a-service work?

Influencers marketing is a major form of marketing that typically uses social media users to promote products, organisations or ideas. A 2019 PwC report estimated that the Australian industry would be worth more than $240 million that year.

And with the the scaling up of the industry comes an opportunity for technology services to standardise and streamline services.

“Partnerships with influencers have been going on for years and years. But the problem is on the back end: how do you record it? How do you invoice? How are you tracking all this? This technology is there to do all the heavy lifting,” Furness said.

These technologies allow companies using the service to browse the hundreds of thousands of influencers, create agreements with them, track their performance and pay them at the end.

Furness boasts that the acquisition will allow a more sophisticated approach to measuring how influencers are helping an advertiser.

“One of the problems in the pat has been trying to track what’s happening with influencers and how do you value what they do. Do you pay them based on their posts? If you are, how is that tied to a business outcome or performance metric?” he said.

Furness said the acquisition will allow the company to better measure the “upper funnel” capacity of influencers. He gives an example: influencers marketers receive credit for directly linking their audience to a sale, but they’ll also receive credit if their audience sees their content and buy something a few days later.

This, he said, allows influencers to be rewarded for their value.

“There’s a confidence and transparency provided by the technology. We can work out who’s creating value and scale that,” he said.

What does this mean for Australia?

Furness said that ACTIVATE’s marketplace and technology — which will exist alongside their existing services to start, but will be eventually integrated — will allow Australian companies to step up their use of influencer marketing.

He gives the example of Canva, which already uses ACTIVATE to work with more than 10,000 influencers.

He said the influencer-as-a-service business model allows companies to scale up their partnerships with individual influencers efficiently, allowing them to work with many more. This, in turn, creates opportunities for more people to get involved in the industry.

This service, Furness said, is helping a dramatic shift in how advertisers’ influencer strategy.

“What we’re seeing is a move away from the biggest celebrity influencers to your micro- and nano-influencers and focusing on more more authentic connections,” he said.

“What the technology allows is for a brand advertisers to have thousands and thousands and thousands of partnerships with influencers easily,” he said.

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