The inaugural Influencer Marketing Awards (IMAs) is just under two weeks away and we couldn’t be more excited! With the show just around the corner, we’re pleased to reveal the latest IMA category sponsor WOW Influence, who sponsor the Best Boutique Influence Marketing Agency category. We caught up with Ed Vaisman, VP of sales and marketing at Wow Influence to discuss the awards, developments within the industry and what exciting plans the company has in store this year.

First of all, could you give us a quick overview of your company and what you do?

WOW Influence is an influencer marketplace and end-to-end campaign management platform. We enable brands and marketing agencies to connect to influencers and talent agencies with an easy to use and scalable workflow. We feature a fully vetted, invite-only ecosystem that ensures high levels of trust and transparency for all parties, along with all the automation, measurement, and optimisation features you need to run effective campaigns.

What key developments in the industry have you seen within the last 12 months, and how has your company manoeuvred with them?

Overall, I would say that the influencer marketing industry has definitely matured and become more sophisticated over the last year. The days of manually searching for influencers and guessing their value are over. All participants have a much better sense of value, and the tools to measure that value are now available.

Similarly, keeping track of campaigns in spreadsheets isn’t cutting it anymore. The scale that is required to run campaigns with positive ROI necessitates a strong campaign management platform. A campaign manager used to manually juggle maybe half a dozen influencers, with modern tools she can handle hundreds.

These two developments, huge upgrades in measurement and scale, are enabling larger campaigns by big brands and agencies and while also opening the door for smaller brands and boutique agencies to take advantage of this amazing marketing channel.

Finally, I’m happy to say that the wild-west days of the industry are over. Fraud, fakery, and deception are all on the decline thanks to proper vetting on marketplaces and better tools for measuring true value and ROI. Events like the Fyre Festival brought these issues to the fore and forced us all to address them before they destroyed the trust, authenticity, and community at the heart of influencer marketing.

The most exciting trend is to see influencer marketing expanding into every conceivable niche. The marketing strategy for essentially all the big discretionary spending B2C brands is now “influencer first,” and I can’t remember the last new brand launch that wasn’t heavily influencer-promoted. Next up is B2B, which is just beginning to boom.

On the technology side, I’m seeing increasing use of machine learning for optimising campaign budgets, minimising overlap and duplicate spend, and measuring value on a follower-by-follower basis. There are also cool automation tools using computer vision that automatically highlight brand products in a post, video, or stream and can score the media value.

Looking ahead, AR/VR experiences with influencers are promising. For now, gamers/esports are leading the way here but expect it to expand.

And the biggest challenge faced?

The biggest challenge facing the industry is managing the expectations of both marketers and creators. Like any new marketing channel, influencer marketing had its initial boom and bust and is now, to use Gartner’s hype curve terminology, climbing up the slope of enlightenment to the plateau of stability. Influencer marketing was never a get-rich-quick scheme, but enough outsiders saw it that way to turn it into a self-fulling prophecy for a short while. Thankfully, we’re back in the business of delivering real value and enabling long-term, creative collaborations to flourish.

In your opinion, what kind of attributes stand out in a successful influencer marketing campaign?

The most successful campaigns are those that leverage the unique creativity of the influencer to convey the distilled essence of the brand. The collaboration needs to make immediate sense to the followers, and the authenticity of the influencer promoting the brand needs to be unassailable. Of course, all the little platform- and medium-dependent details need to be flawless.

After those basics are covered, the ease of measuring, scaling, and optimising campaigns is the biggest factor in getting ROI to where it needs to be. Successful marketers know the results of every campaign, which influencers under- and over-performed, and feel confident about how to improve the next round.

How does it feel to be sponsoring the category for Best Boutique Influencer Marketing Agency at the IMAs?

One of the best things about influencer marketing is the opportunity it represents for new agencies to disrupt the marketing and advertising establishment. We are honoured to provide the nominees with the platform solution they need to run a lean operation and compete effectively for the best campaigns. In my mind, they all deserve to be celebrated and recognised for their achievements; I do not envy the tough job the judges have.

Lastly, how will Wow Influence help drive the influencer marketing industry forward on a global scale in 2019?

Stay tuned. We have a bunch of exciting partnerships to announce soon across a number of important markets. For now, I’ll just say that our marketplace and management platform are getting a great global reception and we can’t wait to share what we’ve built with you.

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