Research conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has found that multinational brands are planning to increase their spend on influencer marketing in the next 12 months, with 65% aiming to spend more, despite concerns over lack of transparency and fake followers. It seems that the goal in doing so was to primarily boost brand awareness (86%) and improve brand advocacy (69%), reveals the research.  When deciding who to work with, marketers at multinational brands deemed the quality of followers “very important” (96%). Meanwhile, the credibility and reputation of the influencer were also critical for the majority of the respondents (93%). Concerns about the risks involved in influencer management were focused around four key areas, with consumer trust and blurred lines cited as “very concerning” and “concerning” by 64% of respondents. The other three were legal and financial risks (60%), reputational risks (64%), and brand safety risks (59%).

Marketers’ transparency concerns also extended to the way that the relationship is declared to consumers, with 71% expressed the way the relationship is disclosed was an “absolutely essential” or “very important” part of the selection process.

Assessing the current state

The research recognised that key KPIs being used to assess influencer activity were reach and views (96%), followed by engagement (80%), traffic generated (44%) and other earned media (44%). WFA claims that the research aims to provide a benchmark for the current state of influencer marketing and the degree to which big brands have policies and processes in place to manage these new channels.“Influencer marketing is becoming a key channel for many marketers but it will only be effective if consumers can trust the influencers by declaring paid relationships and marketers can trust that they are reaching real people, not bots,” acknowledged Stephan Loerke, CEO of WFA; “This area has evolved rapidly and this research provides a benchmark revealing how marketing teams and their external partners are managing the new channel.”Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, Keith Weed supported the research, agreeing that it demonstrates many of the shared concerns within the industry. “Unilever values the relationships we have with influencers, but we have made it clear we will only work with those who don’t buy followers so we can be confident we are reaching engaged audiences through strong partnerships,” said Weed.The findings are based on a survey of 34 companies representing 15 categories and approximately $59 billion in global media and marketing spend. All respondents use influencers to market their products online, with 54% doing so “only occasionally/in some markets” and 46% using them “very often”.
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