Today, media giant News UK has launched The Fifth, its own full-service influencer marketing agency with storytelling and authentication at its heart. Oliver Lewis will be heading up the agency as managing director. Oliver will also be attending the all-new Influencer Marketing Awards (IMAs) as The Fifth is sponsoring the Rising Star category at this year’s IMAs. With the IMAs just over a week away, Oliver tells us about the agency’s ambitions, what they are looking forward to at the awards, and the trends emerging in influencer marketing.

First of all, could you give us a quick overview of The Fifth and what you do?

We are The Fifth. We are a new full-service influencer marketing agency. Born in a journalist’s world, we have put real storytellers at the heart of our business. Our mission is to professionalise the space, build connections with original talent and help them to tell stories that deliver measurable impact for brands. Whilst we have an abundance of technology and data, we strongly believe in a human-first approach and high-touch service.We are connected to a global media company and our desire is to help elevate the social talent of today into the media talent of tomorrow. We have a legacy of co-creation and actively invest in the most promising storytellers, helping them to develop new formats and audiences.We spot cultural trends in real time and build connections with the tribes defining them. We immerse ourselves in the movement to help the right brands join the conversation at the right time and in the most genuine way.

How does it feel to be sponsoring the Rising Star category at the first-ever IMAs?

As a new business with very high ambitions of rising ourselves, the team at The Fifth are keen to sponsor and support the leading talent of tomorrow. We are very much looking forward to an evening celebrating great work at an incredibly exciting time for the influencer space. 

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

Over the past 12 months, we have seen several things happening. Brands are seeking to drive more meaningful outcomes from their campaigns and to build longer-term partnerships with talent. This means fewer, deeper and more considered relationships. Less will become more as brands seek more strategically-aligned content plans that better suit the influencer and the relationship with their audience – leading to genuine and sustained advocacy. Perhaps the greatest sign of market maturity is the increasing demand for measurement, standardisation of metrics and a clearer path to ROI. We have set up The Fifth around journalistic methodologies to understand and deliver the right talent for clients and to create longer-term storytelling narratives. We are also focused on moving the language of influencers beyond reach and frequency to achieve real marketing outcomes for brands. We spend a lot of time emerging ourselves in emerging cultural trends so we can build connections with the tribes and protagonists defining them. We are looking out for those who combine having something new to say with a unique storytelling voice or format.The most positive, exciting and rewarding aspect of the world we live in is the chance to discover micro movements reverberating in social and finding new ways to partner with them. For example, the growth of witchery and mysticism across Instagram and YouTube is a fascinating area. Despite its unorthodoxy, it is incredibly appealing for brands that want to stand out and work with very distinctive storytellers.

We have also witnessed a rise in skinfluencers. As body confidence awareness grows, 2019 will be the year of skin confidence, presenting an opportunity for beauty brands.

And the biggest challenge faced?

Authenticity and truth. An influencer is only influential as long as their audience is listening. Therefore, for brands to truly capitalise on the loyalty and trust they wish to benefit from, we must all respect the talent’s unique understanding of their audience. Emerging trends and innovative storytellers will naturally attract a wide range of brand interest, but no one benefits if the fit feels contrived and the brand doesn’t belong within that particular conversation. So, the challenge for influencers is to remain honest and truthful to the audience whilst keeping in mind the bigger picture.

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

Ultimately, a successful campaign is one that understands its purpose. It is one that is planned and tailored to specific brand objectives from the outset. Whether its awareness, audience development or sales, it will have clearly identified, measurable brand or performance metrics throughout.

The hallmark of successfully planned and executed marketing campaign is one which can be dynamically optimised to achieve its purpose. This will increasingly mean that influencer creative is delivered across cross-platform, channel and media. 

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

The current influencer marketplace is often referred to as the ‘Wild West’ of the marketing world. But the time has come to professionalise the space. At The Fifth,we believe in trust, transparency, and accountability. We are professional marketers who hold ourselves and our talent to the highest standards, which is why we’re upfront on our fees, data, and technology.Trust is only built when all parties are accountable and working together. This is why we are supporting Q-83 to help influencers take a stand against fraud by authenticating their audience data and standardising their reporting within one platform.

See who made the 2019 Influencer Marketing Awards shortlist.

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