According to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the influencer marketing industry needs a healthy dose of transparency—and new guidelines for measuring the value of influencer marketing campaigns may do the trick. Two years ago, the ANA sponsored a survey of its members, which included brand marketers from some of the world’s largest companies, about their most significant challenges in navigating the influencer marketing ecosystem. Nearly 80% stated that the lack of a standardized measurement system for assessing consumer engagement was their top concern. That’s a big deal as a brand marketer’s goal—better ROI and deeper market penetration—can’t be adequately judged without the correct numbers.
When data is scarce or based on conflicting standards indicating the success or failure of a particular campaign, marketing strategy ends up being based on guesswork. That’s bad for brands, platforms and agencies: standards help brands determine where they should put their dollars and it helps influencer agencies match the right creatives with the right audience and brand that will need their help.
The ANA’s new guidelines are intended to end the guesswork loop that influencers, agencies and brands may find themselves stuck in by recommending a single criterion that will make engagement easier to define and track over time.
Another positive element of the ANA’s guideline release is that it is not based on old ideas of what “good” marketing is supposed to look like. In the age of TikTok, consumers have moved beyond clicks on banner ads. Engagement can mean something other than surrendering an email to a form or subscribing to a newsletter. It can also mean awareness—introducing an audience to a name or a concept while gently nudging them down a path toward brand discovery. That’s something influencers are extremely good at, and it needs to be quantified in some way to highlight their unique value to advertisers. The ANA does that with its new recommendations, separating areas where influencers can provide marketing support into three categories: Awareness, engagement, and conversion. They define each as:
- Awareness: To generate visibility for and consumer recognition of your brand, product, service, or message.
- Engagement: To get the consumer to interact directly with the brand messaging through different actions (commonly clicks, likes, comments, and shares) as a means of indicating brand interest or affinity.
- Conversion: To get the consumer to take the desired action toward a predetermined goal, purchase, or transaction. KPIs will be highly dependent upon the data available to the advertiser.
The benefits of quantifying the work influencers and their agencies do in practical terms are manifold, not just for the brands hiring them but also for platforms seeking to legitimize their value proposition as competitors to other media forms. When the data is there, creators will be less likely to find themselves undervalued by brands seeking their help. The “shadow” work of raising brand awareness (untethered from a CTA) can now be calculated into the metrics advertisers use to build their long-term marketing strategy. As the influencer marketing industry grows, using standardized measurements will help creators and brands build partnerships that work for all sides.
Download the new standards here.