The value of (online) influencers: An attempt to define an undefined digital species

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They blog from the first row at catwalks. They share cool design gadgets on Instagram. They strike a pose with a selfie in front of 5-star hotels on Pinterest. And, they record „Let’s plays“ for Youtube while testing the latest computer games. The one thing they have in common? They are online influencers. A digital species that challenges and changes the marketing world of models, testimonials and the publishing industry.

According to an annual Nielsen study, it is a common knowledge that people trust most in recommendations of people they know. In the past, marketers put models or celebrities in this „recommendation seat“. It was meant to address two benefits: Brands intended to grasp some of the consumers’ attention by trying to hitch-hike on the wave of VIP awareness and public relevance. And, they used the reach of magazines and the trust those public voices had for the people.

Nielsen Study Trust 2015

It seems to me that the tables are turning now, and marketers have to rethink their brand extension strategy.

1. Models – the personalization dilemma
When using models, brands couldn’t tell exactly which audience they were addressing. It was a marketers’ and model agent’s best guess which model fits which brand. However, a model does not have a transparent target-group. They are just faces without any open address books or lead list.

Social influencers are their own agents. Their content markets their personality, their personality defines their content, their reach expresses their quality. They have got fans, followers, and friends that everybody (not only when following them) can see. A clear defined and dynamic target-group that is commited to them and engages with them on a regular basis. What they say gets read. What they state is trusted. In fact, their consumer opinion becomes one of the most trusted sources that people believe in – more than traditional ads of any kind.

Just imagine the influence on purchase intent, when an influencer is posting online to a large audience of friends and fans. Social influencers are perceived of their active and growing audiences as „more real“ than models, somehow even as „friends“.

But also the traditional model business is affected by the upcoming influencer trend: Previously interchangeable and relatively anonymous faces are now increasingly becoming personal brands thanks to their personalized Instagram and Snapchat channels and/or (mostly fashion- and beauty related) blogposts. Consequently, numerous models with significant reach are also acting as influencers to their audiences.

2. Testimonials – the authenticity dilemma
Testimonials need to match brand authenticity and follow the brand message in order to become valuable for marketers. Serious investment in dollars does not allow a testimonial’s mistake. Contracts are long-term and include testimonial involvement not only in all brand campaigns but also in personal PR and marketing engagement during the contracting period.

Money counts for testimonials – as much as monetary rewards do for online influencers. This is definitely true for the fashion and beauty industry, states the „Fashion & Beauty Monitor“ report in partnership with Econsultancy named „The Rise of Influencers„. However, three out of five surveyed influencers believe that the „relevance of brand in relation to own area of expertise „is essential when collaborating with marketers. Influencers are very well aware of their personality as brand that has to be secured and consequently, they do not sell everything just because they are asked to. Of course, this in return means a certain loss of control for marketers when working with powerful influencers. Just to state an example, years ago, I offered MINI a cool opportunity to collaborate with me. I fear the idea never reached the BMW four-cylinder tower – perhaps for fear of losing brand control?

Think about it: How authentic can testimonials be that are selected by brands as of their popularity in sports, fashion and lifestyle? Testimonials sell their media value. On the contrary, engagement with influencers can only work when brands do not act too commercial with them and meet their personal authenticity. Social influencers are personal brands; authentic brands that companies can collaborate with.

3. Publishers – the relevance dilemma
When content from influencers gets more attention (and is trusted more) than content from advertising, relevance becomes a critical tipping point. For years, marketers and PR experts were convinced that „serious“ traditional publishers are more relevant to readers than bloggers or any other form of social media active people. Thus, they invested serious dollars in brand building activities with the publishing industry. Today, these very media houses are approaching influencers to increase their declining media value.

A recent study by Collective Bias shows that content from influencers is viewed for more than 2 minutes (which is 7 times longer than the digital display ad average with a view time of just 19.2 seconds). Plus the relevance of someone’s personal opinion -whether rating, recommendation or review- has become of high value for consumers. Now if content from an influencer is relevant and perceived as being „authentic“ , publishing is facing serious competition in the future.

However, relevance needs to meet relevance both ways. Just putting brand messages into the mouth of online influencers won’t accelerate a brand’s value. In order to become relevant to an influencer and his or her audience, a brand needs to be „love-brand“ in a social influencer’s mind. If not, the influencer will be perceived (and probably also act) like a traditional publishing product without a media-kit.

Solving the dilemma – budget and advertising strategy
The world of testimonials, models and publishing is changing with the rise of influencers.
More and more companies and brands start working with social influencers. I personally doubt that they will completely replace models, testimonials and publishing houses, but the future will tell. However, the world of recommendations will be redefined by a new species.

Nielsen Study Recommendation 2015

According to a recent #BrandofMe study, brands invested 1 Bio. USD in 2015 in influencer programs on Instagram only. Influencers earn between 500 and 10.000 USD per Instagram photo or Youtube video – obviously depending on their media reach. Which means that some influencers get paid as much as some publishers for their ad space. A lot of budget that moves away from traditional brand building worlds.

The question is what values more to brands in terms of business impact: tradition or progression. But that question can only be answered when brands understand the power that online influencers can have on and in the sharing economy.

Marketing Campaigns Examples for Gambling Websites

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Gambling is a competitive industry just like any other and as with other industries advertising campaigns can be the key to a site’s success. There are many different incentives used by those in this sector to entice in new players and make themselves stand out.
One of the most prolific deals that gambling sites extend to their public is a bonus, whether it’s totally free or comes with a deposit. These work particularly well as it is seen by many as an equivalent to free money to use however they please and works as an excellent incentive.


Another way that sites can get players in the door is by creating a theme that’s on trend. This could be anything from a movie to a character and online casino sites that will be opened in 2016 or those that already exist are using this to its full advantage. This tactic taps into an existing fan base and combines recreational gaming with a concept that players already know they enjoy. Branded slot games are a growing trend because of this, as players see a movie that they enjoy reincarnated and can’t wait to take it for a spin. This also helps the site seem more personable and friendly, especially if they use a mascot.

Being social with players gives another boost to the ranks of a casino. As we all know social media is an excellent way for brands to reach out and be seen by a wider audience. The use of incentives by online casinos also helps when using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as they can boost posts that offer the best deals.


Television advertisement is a medium that never grows old and many gambling sites now rely on creating an eye-catching advert. This can be a little trickier than advertising online however as there are governing bodies that must review these adverts.

Gambling Kid

The need to drive traffic to a site is felt by every business on the internet and these are just a few ways that gambling sites manage this flow. They still rely on basic advertising principles but they are tailored to the market.

comScore: Increase in app usage, mobile web still important

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Mobile is on the rise but web is still king? Well, it is one of these findings that makes you wonder on first reading. Although websites still reach bigger audiences, web users spend most of their time in mobile apps according to comScore.

Monitoring the time between June 2014 and 2015, comScore finds in some research that the audience for mobile websites is around 250% bigger than mobile apps. Furthermore, it is growing twice as fast as apps. As a reason for this development comScore sees the closed garden phenomenon a challenge for apps. Web versions are much more fluid in terms of linking between content, social and search.

comScore also found that FB and Google own eight of the 10 most-visited mobile apps with Facebook winning the „competition“ (almost 126 million unique visitors) with nearly one in two users who installed the app saying using it most frequently.

comScore apps web usage 2015

It is not surprising that Facebook’s app as of it’s reach is not the fastest growing app any more compared to Google’s audio-video sharing platform Youtube (9 to 18% growth) with 99 million users. However, after seperating their Messenger app from their main Facebook platform, the Messenger was grew double the size compared to last year.

Where people between the age of 18 and 34 spend most of their time is on Facebook (nearly 26 hours a month), Instagram (7 hours), Snapchat and Tumblr (6 hours) and Twitter (3,5 hours).

comScore digital time spend 2015

ComScore said mobile phones now account for 62% of all time spent online. Within that total, the research firm said 44% of time is spent on smartphone apps, up from 33% two years earlier. Mobile users spend more than 70% of their time in smartphone apps, dwarfing time spent on tablet apps and mobile websites.

Spot On!
The comScore mobile report gives a good indication of where the evolution of apps and their usage might lead in the future. It shows that „messaging is a very hot sector for apps“ but is still early stages in the US. Looking at the time people spend with certain categories, the leading areas of interest were social networking (29%), radio (15%), games (11%), multimedia and instant messaging (6%), and music (4%).

comScore share of mobile apps time spend 2015

As the research was monitoring the US audience, the two apps that were not owned by Facebook and Google under the top 10 were the music apps from Pandora and Apple Music. Furthermore, new service apps like Uber and Lyft have become more and more popular, comScore finds.

„I love advertising because I love lying.“

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In a normal world, when people get the CLIO award, they thank the whole world, their parents and sometimes God for achieving the honorary trophy. Not so Jerry Seinfeld in New York during the Advertising Week. Although the award is seen as the „world’s most recognized international awards competition for advertising, design, digital and communications,“ Seinfeld plays the honor down for having been the longtime spokesman for American Express.

„I think spending your life trying to dupe innocent people out of hard-won earnings to buy useless, low-quality, misrepresented items and services is an excellent use of your energy.“

What an honest statement. What a harsh reality. What a burst of laughter. Don’t bite the hand that’s feeding you, someone like his clients might have said. However, he just let’s it all out and probably makes the whole celebration audience think for the first time in their lives.

Having moderated the dmexco conference some weeks ago, I have to admit that some people also asked, if I hadn’t been too honest when I mentioned that most of the digital advertising companies can be happy that venture capital and private investors exist, as otherwise 80% of the digital parties today would not happen.

Sometime, it is just good to keep the spirit of self-reflecting sarcasm up to drive the future business growth. So, have fun watching Jerry Seinfeld making almost everybody in the room laugh…

„Stream me up, Scotty!“ – Viacom study shows streaming is the new black

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Credit: © XtravaganT -

Credit: © XtravaganT –

Scotty’s world is gone. Today’s future is not „beam me up“, but „stream me up“. At least when it comes to listening to music. The Viacom music group, consisting of CMT, MTV and VH1, published some summary results which prove that teenagers and adults up to age 40 consume music in a streaming mode.

In a quantitative study with 1,200 respondents, which also included some qualitative secondary research and some new form of „blography“ component, it made clear that streaming has become a mainstream behavior. Almost four out of five (78%) participants of the survey had streamed music in the past three months. The streaming habit on the way to purchase is most often (91%) a form of auditioning music before buying it – especially YouTube has an important role in this process.

The age group of 22-30 year olds is even more active than their older and younger counterparts. Streaming music has become a daily habit for them (63% do it daily). As the group sample was taken from their target audience, it might be a reason that this result is even higher than in usual user studies.

The young generation of „streamers“ listens to radio as an important source of information to this group. However, the study credited broadcast and the Internet as sources of music discovery. Interestingly enough the study states that the act of listening seems to be passive. User do not seek to find their music, it basically comes to them. It could be a prove that the music industry has understood how to use big data to favor the music taste of their users.

Obviously, TV is another major discovery platform for this generation. 88% of respondents mentioned that they searched for songs on TV shows next to listening to them. This could become another important opportunity for track-identification mobile apps (like i.e. Shazam).

The path from discovery to purchase (which in this study can mean several things, including “streaming it incessantly”) is interestingly charted. The role of streaming in that path is often a form of auditioning music before buying, according to 91% of participants, who use YouTube for that purpose.

Spot On!
Not surprisingly, the respondents state that downloading music via P2P networks is not popular for them (60% see it as „risky“ or „wrong“). Still, this does not mean that the idea is completely gone from their minds. Sharing music data with friends via DropBox or other sharing platforms is a common practice for music fans. However, if 81% of participants believe this is a support to bands they admire can be doubted. Maybe the music fans haven’t quite understood how their bands make money. It probably „beams up“ the bands relevance and popularity more if 63% of fans follow artists on Facebook and share the bands‘ news in their personal networks.

The YouTube revenues (and more) in a minute (Infographic)

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The guys at YouTube Downloader Blog have created a very interesting infographic. Where they have recently explained why Saudi Arabians are the most engaged YouTube viewers in the world, this new infographic shows us the YouTube world in one minute in order to reveal what happens during 60-seconds on the world’s leading video sharing site.

The infographic shows the amount of video uploaded to YouTube each minute and gives insights in the ad revenue that the site’s top channels generate in that minute. Thus, we get to know that PewDiePie earns more than $13 a minute.

According to the infographic, YouTube generates more than $10,000 in revenue per minute. A figure that is base on the site’s estimated annual revenue of $5.6 billion, which means over $14 million of revenue each day.


Adobe Summit 2014: Flashback in Tweets

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Adobe Summit 2014Sometimes when I travel to speak or to moderate at events, I have no idea what I can expect from the stages, the audience, the speakers and their input. Sometimes you fly home disappointed as the news were old, the stories not exciting, the slides were shabby or even impossible for the audience to read. And not often you have a long lasting experience that will change the way you experience the digital (marketing) world. Adobe’s Summit 2014 has proven to become an outstanding event experience, and I am sure the following stories will stay in my mind for a long, long time.

Let me summarize the main messages of the event „Reinvent marketing“ with the following five tweets…

Not often tweets can stand on their own. This tweet has a message that marketer need to obey in order to fullfil the message of the event and justify their position in the company. Marketers don’t need to glorify their brand through advertising. They should simply enable consumers to tell the brand stories from their own perspective. „Storytelling is not story yelling!“ as Gaston Legorburu, Chief Creative Officer at SapientNitro puts it.

Adobe Summit 2014 Gaston SapientNitro

When you hear all the opportunities about big data and see what companies like Adobe can do, it makes you think and wonder what these institutions will do with it – no matter what (EU) regulations we will have in the future.

Adobe Summit 2014 Adobe Values

The feedback from Rod Banner made me think: „I feel pretty sure they won’t. Not even intentionally. It’ll just happen. Remember, „Knowledge is Power“. And the answer from Twitter user Corticelli (whoever you are) seems to support Rod’s and my view: „oh, they will stalk and spam. And ruin that shiny technology fur the rest of us … #AdobeSummit“. Let’s hope the three of us are wrong with our slightly pessimistic view.

Having had the Head of Internet Office from the Vatican at the event was definitely surprising, hearing him speak was like meeting the Pope on stage. His gesture, his facial expression and his words were famous even before they were even spoken out. When Monsigneur Lucio Ruiz collected his words together to frame them in a picture of words that not many people on earth can paraphrase, people started smiling, applauding and laughing. Laughing, not because there was no meaning in them but just being spot on. So he said about the Pope: „His words might differ. The message is always the same!“

Adobe Summit 2014 Ruiz Vatican

Definitely the most inspiring and touching story on starting anew came from Kurt Yaeger. The well-known actor from the American TV series „Sons of Anarchy“ lost part of his left leg on a motorcycle accident in 2006. When the accident happened, he was a BMX professional and the doctor told him that with or without his leg he will only have a max. 20% chance to survive. Although it will kill his career as a bike pro, he did not have to think long to decide what to do. Sometimes, you just don’t have to wait long to stop a routine or a habit.

Adobe Summit 2014 Kurt Yaeger

Personal note
I remember when my son got meningitis in Greece. He asked me to stop smoking that day. I told him while throwing the new pack of cigarettes in the bin: „You get well again soon. And I stop smoking now.“ I have never touched a cigarette again, and that was over eight years ago. And, I will never do it again.

When you get invited to a panel on the future of marketing, it makes you think whether you really know more than the rest of the selected media audience.

Looking back, I have seen more or less all of them taking notes and starting discussions. And, when the Q&A session started, you could feel that this round could have been interesting for a wider audience, not only for the media. But who knows. Adobe reinvents their marketing. And maybe you can also discuss with us about the future of marketing at the next digital or Adobe event.

Study: What B2B buyers expect to see on vendor websites

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Is it really still the phone number and the email address? Well, at least contact information should be easily accessible on B2B vendor websites. This is the main finding of a recent report from Dianna Huff and KoMarketing Associates.

The study, based on a survey of 175 B2B buyers, states that the majority of B2B buyers (68%) find the vendor’s address and contact information is mission critical information. Thus, 55% make clear they’ll leave the website if it isn’t accessible. For most B2B buyers (81%) want to contact vendors via email in the first place, phone comes in second place (58%). Furthermore, it is not only about accessibility. Credibility of a vendor’s website establishes for 51% of the respondents when contact or about information is displayed.

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Content Assets Credibility

From a content perspective, 43% of buyers see pricing as a „must have“ content on vendor websites. Having worked with different b2b vendors in the last years, we know that the challenge for them is the indirect sales when partners have different levels of pricing models that often cannot be displayed public; however separate logins can handle that challenge.

90% of buyers expect to see product/services information on vendor websites. They also want to see about/company information (61%), marketing collateral (37%), and testimonials (36%). Although social media becomes more impact in our daily business, only 24% try to find social media add-ons (24%) or look for blogs (22%).

Huff:koMarketing 2014 - Website Info People want to see

Spot On!
Although the contact form is the most common way to get in touch with the vendor, only 39% like to use it. This is critical as buyers usually do not take too much time to stay on vendor websites.

Especially when getting bored or when they click out of a website, buyers tend to leave. Another mismatch that makes people leave is when video or audio plays automatically (93%). Animated ads, like crawling banners or pop-ups are also a NoGo for 88%, and a bad positioning about company offers makes 83% move to the competitor sites.

Native Advertising: Will these brands turn the advertising industry around?

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Last year, I had the pleasure to announce this gentleman for one of the main dmexco stage panels. And I can tell you, it was not fun to complement him to go off stage when their speaking time was up. Terence Kawaja is a funny character and great speaker, and he doesn’t like being stopped talking. Now, the investment banker and founder of LUMA Partners introduced his latest chart of the Lumascapes which will define a new status quo in the advertising industry.

After their numerous Lumascapes on search, display, video, mobile, social commerce, and so on, this time we get to see their perception world of native advertising. Although the definition on native advertising is still evolving and may seem some kind of „rough in barriers“ and not very much detailed, it is making it’s way through the brand campaigns of companies. Not even the IAB playbook on native advertising gives us a clear definition on what exactly native advertising is, and how it differs from content marketing, branded content, or even how it can be located against approaches like story advertising.

To the guys of Business Insider, Kawaja said about his latest version…

„Given how consumers ignore banner ads, these new consumer – friendly formats are proving to be the engine for how marketers can engage audiences, especially in social and mobile contexts.“

Let’s hope he his right with his perception. I realized some brands of emerging companies are missing in the chart, maybe as it is an American view, maybe because we are often getting invites to the latest new start-up in this field, maybe as we see the world a bit different. Still, Kawaja and his team have done a good job again. Let’s hope he is joining dmexco 2014 again.

Lumascape Native Advertising

Tips & tricks on handling blogger advocates (Infographic)

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Many marketers ask themselves (and often us) how to work with social influencers or blogger advocates. How can you get them to the some word-of-mouth promotion for your brand, how to spread the word about the company, or just to help on doing some nice networking. The team from SocialChorus gives some advice with their latest infographic on blogger advocates.

According to their opinion and advice, companies and brands should watch out that the blogger advocate of interest has got at least a social reach of 2,500-25,000 contacts on Twitter and a highly engaged audience. Furthermore, they should be „interested in brands that reflect his or her audience’s interests“. From a verticals point of view, the most popular verticals for blogger advocates come from parenting, women’s lifestyle and food. To be fairly honest,

I was a bit surprised that the tech industry was just getting some 4,8% of mentions as most of these people are in the social media platforms for quite a while, and usually these people are quite engaged. Seems this is not a big vertical when it comes to spreading the message about brands.

However, each vertical can also have some subcategories which means that it could be covered but under a different vertical like i.e. consumer interest. Not surprisingly, the typical women’s lifestyle blog is around beauty, fashion, and design/DIY, while the males‘ one will focus more on auto, sports, tech or entertainment.

Spot On!
To be fair, I have to say that I doubt that the number of 2.500+ contacts qualifies for some great advocate impact (maybe more for an influencer), or whether it is not more the people behind those contacts that count. Marketers should also be careful with the „engaged audience“ as sometimes people get followed as of their unique content. They get high figures in „automated response“ but they might not be the most conversational, still fully respected people.

Hey, who said blogger advocacy was easy? Any further ideas on the topic, feel free to share…

Credits: SocialChorus

Credits: SocialChorus

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