Instagram Cements Its Place as an Influencer Marketing Hotspot in 2017

Influencer marketing really came into vogue in 2017. While the principle of utilising famous people to sell your products is nothing new, the concept has undergone a major evolution in the last few years as it merged with social media. 

Instagram has positioned itself right at the heart of this growing section of digital marketing. As a mainly picture-based network with around 800 million users (as of September 2017), it is perhaps no surprise that Instagram is so suited to influencer marketing. The site also boasts a relatively young user base, being popular among teenagers and young adults.

Recently, the data science team of marketing software company Klear analysed over 1.5 million Instagram posts, all of which were tagged with an #Ad hashtag during 2017.

The results show that 2017 was a year that Instagram really began to cement its place as the premier site for influencer marketing.

“Ghosting” Customers After Sale Costs Retailers

The practice of “ghosting” consumers, or breaking all contact following a purchase, is one of the main reasons consumers switch to other retailers.

Narvar and YouGov surveyed around 3,000 UK consumers and found that retailers are losing out on repeat customers by focusing all of their efforts on getting people to buy from them. By failing to communicate with customers once the purchase is complete, retailers are often blowing the chance of creating a loyal customer.

Among the respondents, the number one aggravation reported was companies that do not provide clear and accurate information about the status of an order. 25% listed this as their top annoyance. 65% would be put off ever engaging with a brand again if it poorly communicated bad news like a late delivery.

A third of respondents said that they would definitely not use the retailer again if they did not provide accurate order tracking or follow up a purchase with necessary content like guides.

Post-purchase experience

The kind of important, post-purchase communications that many retail brands are failing to provide their customers are an accurate estimation of delivery date, and prompt notifications of any delays or changes to the order.

61% of those surveyed said that they expected fast and direct communications following purchase as a standard. This attitude was most keenly demonstrated by millennials and the over 55s. 10% would like to receive follow up content such as suggestions for how to use the product or other related purchases.

And, perhaps reflecting the UK preference for good manners, 20% of respondents would like a simple ‘thank you’ from brands they buy products from.

“These findings really highlight that the eCommerce journey does not just stop when a customer clicks the buy button,” Amit Sharma, CEO, Narvar, comments.

“Retailers who fail to appreciate the importance of the post-purchase experience are missing out on really developing a loyal customer base and the financial benefits that go along with that.”

By Colm Hebblethwaite

Marketing an ICO: cryptocurrencies, influencers and indaHash

The term ‘ICO’ or initial coin offering burst into the collective consciousness in a big way in 2017. The funding strategy went from being a novel idea thought up in the cryptocurrency and blockchainspace to a way for companies to raise millions of dollars in a matter of hours.

With the money raised through ICOs in the last year rocketing to over $3,000,000,000, it is not surprising that an increasing number of companies are looking to explore the potential to get involved. And, while the vast majority of ICOs have been tech-related, companies from other sectors are increasingly finding success in the space.

indaHash, a Warsaw-based influencer marketing company, recently launched an ICO where they looked for investors to put money into the indaHash Coin cryptocurrency.  The results were pretty astonishing: 53,000 ETH raised (which equated to around $60 million in value at the time) and the pre-ICO hard cap (when the total number of created coins has sold out) in only 4 days.

We caught up with CEO and co-founder Barbara Soltysinska to talk about how the influencer marketing platform made a bold step into the world of cryptocurrencies.

What was the level of knowledge about ICOs and cryptocurrencies before settling on that strategy?

“In our case, the ICO is less a funding strategy, and more of an innovative approach to grow our company and be ahead of the competition. We want indaHash to eventually become a transparent and decentralized platform for influencer marketing campaigns, fueling the needs of influencers, brands and follower activities.

“In terms of knowledge, we cooperate with the best advisors and crypto-influencers if the industry, working on the best solutions with them for our product.”

Did you encounter scepticism about using an ICO?

“We had both, I think. Many people thought it was a great idea, but of course you will always encounter people who question your decisions. Mostly because they don’t understand it and as you know, many people are skeptical of cryptocurrency. Lucky for us, our ICO went very well so we proved the skeptics wrong.”

What tactics did the company use to market the ICO?

“We used several tactics to promote our ICO such as traditional media outreach (we were featured on Forbes, CNBC, etc.)  and promotions on our social channels. But, as an influencer marketing company, it was an obvious choice to use people influential in the crypto social media space to help us.

“People go to YouTube for crypto-related news, so we partnered with over 100 different YouTubers from around the globe to review our ICO. This lead to almost 5k videos on YouTube for ‘indaHash ICO’.

“We also organized several press trips and invited more than 40 crypto YouTubers to our HQ in Warsaw so they could see our working business up close and personal, meet with our employees and get first access interviews with myself on the project. Additionally, we worked really hard to grow our Telegram group to over 13k members. We made sure we had staff around the clock updating our members and answering questions because keeping open communication when conducting and ICO is crucial. Another cool thing we did was send out a newswire the day our ICO launched and had our image displayed in Times Square.”

What were the biggest challenges/lessons learned during and after the process?

“We have a very intensive and detailed whitepaper. Putting this together in a way that was on brand for us, but also visually stimulating and informative for those reading it was a big challenge. We worked really hard on it for months and thankfully, received so many compliments on it, with many saying it was the best whitepaper they’ve ever come across. That’s a big, important lesson for those reading this – make your whitepaper stand out!

“And, of course, there’s a lot of pressure to succeed when doing an ICO. It’s challenging not to question yourself and your ability to be able to hit your goals, so a big lesson here is to never stop. During our pre-and main ICO, my team and I worked really hard to keep the momentum going with marketing and the tactical issues of the token distribution. I learned to really lean on my ICO team and advisors because everyone played a big role in making it happen.”

What was behind the decision to pay influencers in IDH tokens? What are the benefits of this approach?

“Our goal at indaHash is to create innovative solutions according to market demand. We believe in a decentralized vision of the influencer space where brands and influencers can cooperate in a transparent and secure way.

“As the biggest influencer marketing platform in the world (450,000 influencers registered working with clients such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Unilever etc.), we decided to move to a blockchain based approach to achieve this goal. We want to develop our platform and give influencers and brands the possibility to run campaigns via smart contracts and use indaHash tokens as a remuneration and reward solution.

“Imagine an influencer who wants to run a campaign and creates an auction via smart contract and brands can bid for the post, or brands creating campaigns via indaHash smart contracts with a blocked amount of IDH coins as a reward and influencers applying to the campaign creating posts and receiving payments in a fast, secure and trusted way. Imagine performance campaigns for influencers based on referral programs where influencers receive commission in IDH and see rankings of other influencers engaged in a fully transparent way. But to do all that influencers and brands need a user-friendly interface and technology created solely for their needs. This is our vision of indaHash as a solution provider, creating unique and useful technology for both parties.”

What is the company planning to do with the money raised?

“The funds will be used to grow our company even more dynamically, expand to new markets, acquire new influencers faster and become a dominating market leader in terms of influencer marketing activities.

“At this point we’re ahead of competition not only in terms of money – but also in terms of our vision that the world is shifting from old centralized media to decentralized micro-publishers. And we want to be a key player in this new media landscape.”


By Colm Hebblethwaite

Unilever threatens to pull ads from Facebook and Google

Unilever, one of the world’s biggest advertisers, has announced that it is considering pulling its ads from Facebook and Google in a bid to avoid platforms that “create division”.

The consumer goods multinational, which owns brands Lynx, Persil, Ben & Jerry’s and PG Tips, does not want its ads appearing on platforms that promote hate or fail to protect consumers.

Unilever is the world’s second largest marketing spender, behind Proctor and Gamble. Last year the company spent £6.8bn advertising its brands.

Chief marketing officer Keith Weed said in a speech at the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau that “as one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online.”

Transparency and responsibility

Weed went on to say that the company did not want to continue to support a digital supply chain which, while responsible for delivering a quarter of the company’s advertising, “is little better than a swamp in terms of transparency”.

He went on to say that the effort to clean up the digital supply chain will resemble the process that Unilever went through when it attempted sustainable sources for its ingredients and raw materials. The company has made cuts to its ad production as part of an effort to cut costs. This involves cutting the number of ad agencies it works with to a humble 1,500.

Craig Tuck, Managing Director, UK, at RhythmOne, said:

“Various social giants have been publicly scrutinised for serving ads against inappropriate content recently and Unilever is another example of a brand reviewing their strategy to ensure they remain trusted. When trust is in question, consumers often revert to their own network – meaning there’s more emphasis on dark social.

“74% of sharing activity takes place across email and instant messaging, so having the tools to analyse this trend properly will be increasingly important. Digital brand safety is an incredibly complex area – and one that we have invested heavily in, as we feel it will be a key area that advertisers look at when allocating their media spend going forward.”

Andrew Morsy, UK Managing Director at Sizmek, said:

“Unilever’s warning to the big tech giants regarding ad spend highlights what is probably the single biggest challenge for our industry – the demand for change when it comes to transparency. This is not the first story we’ve seen about huge advertisers threatening to pull ad budget over concerns around secrecy, fake news and brand safety. Due to their dominance over the advertising market, the ‘duopoly’ has an even greater responsibility to ‘serve and protect’ brands advertising with them, as well as the consumers viewing those adverts. But they’re not the only ones – this is a trust issue that all of us in the ad tech arena need to focus on.

“Fundamentally, as Unilever has shown today, advertisers want transparency when it comes how much they’re spending, to whom that spend is going and where ads are being placed. There is a spotlight on spend and ROI now for many brands and this only comes from empowering agencies and advertisers with increased visibility, control and performance over their media planning and buying.”

By Colm Hebblethwaite


Facebook users spending less time on the site as revenue grows

Facebook’s newly released figures for Q4 2017 show that revenue came in well above analyst expectations at $12.97 billion. The consensus projection was that sales revenue would come in at $12.6 billion.

Mobile ad revenue accounted for around 89% of the social media giant’s total ad sales for the quarter.

The number of monthly active users rose 14% to 2.13 billion, which was a slightly lower rate of growth than the previous quarter. The company cemented itself as the world’s second largest ad seller after Google.

The figures were, however, not all positive. The time spent by users on the site has fallen by around 5%, or 50 million hours a day. Mark Zuckerberg noted that changes to the news feed, such as reducing the volume of viral videos, were a major factor in the drop.

News feed changes

In a conference call to investors, Zuckerberg was keen to emphasise that time spent on the site was by itself only a limited tool to judge the value of the network. He also said that he expects short term drops due to changes to in the news feed will make the product stronger overall.

Forbes quotes Zuckerberg as saying:

“By focusing on meaningful interactions, I believe that the time spent on Facebook will be more valuable. If people interact more, it should lead to stronger community. When you care about something, you’re willing to see ads to experience it.”

The figures may a concern, however, as they come before the implementation of the year-long major changes that will look to make interactions between users a priority. There have been concerns of the effect these changes will have on the company’s ability to deliver effective ad opportunities for brands.

“Changes to the algorithm shouldn’t make brands and publishers look to spend less on ads, on the contrary Facebook still gives them the biggest potential reach, as well as the best targeting capabilities for the best performance on every dollar spent,” said Socialbakers CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak.

“To perform on Facebook in 2018, marketers will need to better understand sub-segments of their audience and target them with more personalised content that will drive engagement. Marketers also need to benchmark their ad spend against their own performance and that of their competitors to make sure that they are spending their budget wisely and only on the best performing content.

“While Facebook has made a lot of changes recently that on the surface look like they make it harder for brands and publishers, in fact this is an opportunity. The brands and publishers that produce engaging content, are smart about their use of different post types and benchmarks and measure their ad spend can only come out winning. Facebook’s audience size can’t be discounted and should rightfully remain a priority platform for marketers.”

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