Influencer Orchestration Network

ION’s Rob Ilas On Creating Meaningful Influencer Relationships

How the science of matchmaking couples is being applied to the top marketing campaigns of today.

By HB Duran @thathbduran

Over 1,800 intellectual property holders and marketing professionals attended Digital Entertainment World (DEW) from February 1 through 2. During the event, our own Robert Ilas, VP of brand partnerships at ION, shared some valuable insight into what it really means when we say “Brand Soulmates.”

Dr. J. Galen Buckwalter, former chief scientific officer for eHarmony, serves as advisor to our team at ION—utilizing the same science to build deep, meaningful relationships between brands and creators the way he did between two individuals. “We’re validating what [influencers are] doing through the psychometrics,” Ilas explained. “We’re pulling in all these different points—everything from emotional language [and] natural language processing while they’re speaking in the videos, [to] how they’re writing captions about the product. [We’re] validating that, and we’re cross-indexing that against a knowledge graph system.”

Ilas went on to explain how understanding the context of key words is imperative to an influencer match. “When we’re validating the influencer as an ambassador for a brand such as Porsche—when they’re searching for ‘911’ in the system, it’s ‘911’ in the sense of a car. So, we’re pairing them together and being able to produce that in a very deep and meaningful way.”

When it comes to authenticity—a buzzword thrown around by agencies a lot these days—finding a “brand soul mate” means matching companies with influencers who already believe in the idea being sold. Ilas spoke of the challenges of producing upwards of 70 pieces of quality content a month for multiple brands and multiple agencies.

“[You have] to ensure that the content is hitting on the right notes so that when you’re working with a client, they’re not over-directing the creator. That’s not the value in working with influencers. You want those audiences and you want those creators to be representing your brand because there’s a natural affinity for what they’re used to speaking about. They are potentially a long-term ambassador for your brand and [you want] to be able to extend that relationship to audiences over a longer period of time.”

There are other parallels between eHarmony and ION, in that brands aren’t looking for a “one night stand,” but rather someone to spend the rest of their lives with.

“The way we’ve been approaching it with our clients is, there’s over 100+ other influencer agencies out there, but the challenge is, a lot of them will take a 30-day one-off campaign,” Ilas noted. “Where is that really adding value to you and your brand? You’ll get a spike and then it’s going to fall back down like a traditional media buy. What we’re doing with our partners is working around their media calendars to ensure that whether it’s a Tent Pole Event [or] they need behind the scenes exclusive content, we’re activating our influencers on behalf of the different marketing beats that they need to be able to scale that and keep in the vein of authenticity. We’ve done the upfront to make sure that the creators are a fit across all the different metrics [to find] an ideal persona for their product or their service.”

A creator/influencer may be popular, but that doesn’t automatically  make them a good fit, Ilas warned.

“If a creator is known for being passionate about Pepsi, that creator won’t be a good fit for Coca-Cola. [There are] more and more brands looking at influencer marketing amid the rise of ad blockers and the ineffectiveness of traditional ad buys no longer being able to reach those audiences. The way that you can successfully win with researching and sourcing these influencers is making sure that your index is seeing their strengths and what they’re passionate about to affirm that there is that true affinity with the brand and their personality and how they’re being represented.”