A new report from Advertiser Perceptions shows that branded content and influencer marketing combined account for 20 percent of marketers’ digital ad budgets—a larger share than any other category including paid social, display, paid social and video.
The study—conducted in November 2020 to gauge the effects of the pandemic on digital advertising decisions—suggests that amid a year teeming with social strife, influencer content has given marketers the flexibility needed to spur lower-funnel activity and promote products without coming across as insensitive.
More than half of the 205 advertising executives surveyed that use branded content and influencers said that doing so would be more critical in 2021. Two-thirds noted that branded and influencer content is easier to execute than it was two years ago, highlighting the industry’s advancement in recent years.
Thirty-two percent of respondents said they increased spending on branded content while 25 percent spent more on influencers during the second half of last year.
“Advertisers have to move their efforts up and down the funnel unexpectedly — that’s the nature of our world now. Branded content and influencer programs let them do that. These resurgent strategies are proving useful for any campaign goal,” said Advertiser Perceptions executive vice president Sarah Bolton in a statement, as reported by Marketing Dive.
The channels used most frequently for branded and influencer content were Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, according to the findings. TikTok overtook LinkedIn, with 35 percent of advertisers favoring the former for influencer marketing over the latter (29 percent).
In addition, more than a third of advertisers are prioritizing media outlets that can include click-to-buy links in their influencer and branded content, with 80 percent wanting shoppable content for influencers and 74 percent wanting shoppable content for branded content.
Next to influencer and branded content, paid search was the most budgeted among digital ads at 14 percent, followed by display (13 percent), paid social (12 percent), video (12 percent) and connected TV/over-the-top (8 percent). Further down the list were ecommerce, mobile in-app ads and audio/podcasts.
Though influencer content dominated advertisers’ budgets, ecommerce, CTV/OTT and video were the top three digital ad options respondents deemed more important for 2021.
As marketers deploy more influencer campaigns, Advertiser Perceptions recommends that they deconstruct silos in their organizations to enhance coordination across creative, digital, media, PR and in-house teams.