Edward East: the trends driving influencer marketing in 2019

It’s estimated that influencer marketing, currently worth $2bn, will be worth $10bn by 2020. In between now and that time is the small matter of 2019 – that’s a big ask in one year. However, as the industry becomes more (artificially) intelligent, more trustworthy, more measurable and more robust, it will only become more lucrative.

Here are six predictions for 2019 on how the industry will fulfil its $10bn potential.

Influencer marketing will take its rightful place as a cornerstone of the overall marketing strategy

As new measurement techniques, reduction of trust issues and AI advancements drive the industry forward, more and more clients will begin to see influencer marketing as a key part of the overall marketing plan, not just a bolt on. And as fresh influencers and extra budget floods in, influencer marketing will drive more reach into email, web and content marketing – becoming a proper weapon in the marketer’s arsenal.

Influencer marketing will be driven by AI and Deep Learning (Machine Learning) – analysing what content works and what doesn’t

As with any industry in its infancy, there are going to be teething problems. Canny future-facing businesses have begun turning to AI and machine learning to solve them – from image recognition to eliminating fake followers and spambots to determining campaign performance and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming.) And this will scale massively next year (hopefully not in a SkyNet way). So much so that with influencer marketing leading the way, advancements in AI will be adopted by other marketing channels to drive effectiveness and possibly creativity.

We used AI ourselves this year in our own tech build StoryTracker, a tool designed to allow influencers and influencer marketing professionals to locate, categorise, save, download and analyse Instagram Stories before they disappear. Basically, removing the ball-ache of manually tracking, saving time, money and the sanity of account execs.

Instagram’s war on fake followers will create a seismic shift in the industry leading to more trust and more investment

This will be a real positive for clients. For the first time there will finally be clarity over what they are paying for (at least from a reach perspective, if not always from an engagement perspective) – but at least engagement will solely be reliant on the quality of the influencers’ posts. However, the influencers who come out of the purge unscathed will start to charge more. In general, the small business will get greater confidence in what they are buying but at a higher price. There will also be opportunities for bargain basement influencers who are looking to rebuild their credibility and the business will need to judge on a case-by-case basis which are worth the risk.

The creative quality of the content produced will continue to increase, matching that of traditional agencies and giving it a new home in other channels

We have been told by a number of clients recently that the content they are seeing from influencers is just as good as that coming out of the agencies – if not better. And much more cost effective. This is leading to them using this content in other mediums such as OOH, DOOH and print. Another smaller, but relevant, trend within this trend will see some of the top influencers taking on so much work that they will need to create their own production teams, not only increasing the amount of output, but also the quality.

There will be a push for more regulation of the medium from traditional sectors

This year the UK’s ASA decided to publish guidelines helping consumers see when a piece of content by an influencer is an #ad. When compared to TV product placement ads (a little flashing P in the corner of the screen that research has shown 27 per cent of people don’t understand) it demonstrates a lack of understanding from traditional quarters that will see more knee-jerk regulation.

Adding grist to this particular mill is the open secret that the amount of consumers who complain about influencer marketing to the ASA is tiny and dwarfed by the number of those that complain about traditional media.

There will be a concerted push for more talent from diverse backgrounds

As with all other areas of marketing, clients will begin to look for more diversity among the influencers selected for any given campaign. We have seen this happen with a few clients already who have specifically requested we find more diverse influencers. This will tie in with an industry-wide push to find more talent in general, as over-worked and over-saturated traditional influencers begin to under-deliver.

Edward East is CEO and founder of influencer marketing agency Billion Dollar Boy.

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