Influencer marketing, also known as blogger outreach, or sponsored media is a rapidly emerging, fast paced, cutting edge technique that is (on the scale of the internet) incredibly un-tapped. Now don’t get me wrong, thousands of bloggers are doing this already. Some have even overkilled it so much that their entire page looks like a spammy landing page made ”just for you!”. Celebrities do this as well but on a different scale. Celebrities have mass media appeal. What makes the niche mommy, baby, pet, travel, etc. bloggers so perfect is their ability to speak to an incredibly targeted audience. This makes them online merchandising machines with the power to lead the mommy’s to the “preferred baby formula” as if she was parting the seas and revealing the promise land of products you simply MUST HAVE.
One example of an influencer blog making big waves is Organic Sunshine, covering the organics and gardening niche. The site is run by mommy blogger “Nicole”, and she touts very reasonable pricing on her media kit page. Nicole has mastered making her sponsorships look like genuine products she loves and highly recommends to her viewers. The content construction and execution is seamless and Nicole is not alone, there are literally hundreds of thousands of other bloggers doing the same thing with their targeted audiences and it is paying off in a big way.
With all of the blogosphere hopping onboard the influencer train, the BIG blogs in digital marketing and tech must be doing it right? Wrong. There is a clear-cut lack of adoption across the industry with some of the biggest players. When you want to reach techies where do you look? There are many places on the internet you could go but not many with the staying power of TechCrunch.
TechCrunch.com has the ability to reach millions of techies and media geeks and provides a powerful platform for a brand to potentially cast a very massive impression for their latest tech product, site, or media. This would of course be weaved into the regular news, articles, and updates that keeps TechCrunch viewers coming back for more. But yet all you find on their site is articles authored by – authors. Don’t get me wrong. The content is great and very targeted. But opening the platform to advertisers who could offer the community new tools, tricks, and products that could help them professionally and personally would be mutually beneficial to the hosting site, the advertiser, and the consumer.
I want to be clear on where my concern lies. These sites are doing a GREAT job when it comes to placing banner style ads along the right border and top hanger, but take a moment to self-reflect. Have you, personally, EVER clicked on one of these? Your answer is probably by accident, then it started a pop-up window which annoyed you and you immediately started looking to for the big red X so you can return to the content your were previously enjoying. While many brands AND advertisers still swear by these, let’s face it – it’s a dying (probably already dead) form of advertising. Virtually everyone that I have spoken to hates these ads, but brands keep purchasing them, and advertisers keep raking in the cash. This form of advertising yields almost a ZERO ROI in many cases.
So why does it keep happening? For the same reason small brands still spend big money on billboards. You have older CEO’s with a one-track marketing mind that is stuck in the traditional marketing world of the past. Because I have been brand side for many years I have witnessed this time and time again. Even when the CEO has a team of brilliant digital marketing professionals suggesting influencer marketing, social media paid promotions, and greater online optimization, you still end up with the “digital traditional” if you will, of banner and Adroll style ads. I’m sorry traditional advertisers, but I am tired of seeing a bloody lady on my screen, and all of the other crap you decide to put out there.
These ads are widely considered an annoyance and thus solutions have popped up. In fact, for months now I have blocked these ads. Now, thanks to an awesome Chrome plug-in BabyAnimalBlocker , you can see less ads and more puppies. Who doesn’t want to see puppies? It just goes to show this form of advertising is low impact, highly annoying.
TechCrunch isn’t the only publication that seems to be lacking behind in the digital marketing world. Take SocialMediaExaminer, for instance. Here they are preaching about the benefits of blogger outreach and sharing a podcast that teaches listeners how to do it for themselves. I can’t help but wonder why they don’t practice what they preach? One article from the Social Media examiner gets shared anywhere between 1 and 3 thousand times throughout the main social engines. With that kind of virability you would think they would allow advertisers promoting social media related products to use their platform. For some reason this gaping hole in the industry has largely gone unnoticed, but with the massive push this year into influencer marketing more people like myself have begun noticing and wondering, when will they practice what they preach!?
One site that DOES have it figured out is Mashable.com. Mashable has been an authority in the tech, social, and pop culture world for quite some time now and with their young, forward thinking CEO Pete Cashmore driving the ship, it seems to be heading in the right direction.
Mashable offers advertisers the “sponsored content” they need and does it with a hip style and a very smooth platform. On the Mashable homepage you typically don’t even notice the “presented by *brand name” under the articles. They position the articles to blend beautifully with other newsworthy and fun content around it.
Not only do they allow you to sponsor an informative branded post, but they also heavily tie in the brand’s social media handles, often seen in the form of a twitter feed sidebar plug-in. Or highlighted tweets discussing the topic presented in the sponsored post.
With Mashable taking the lead, I can only imagine that others will follow in time. There seem to be so many publications that are not keeping up with the influencer-advertising trend and what kills me the most is it’s the ones within the social media marketing industry doing it. Will we see the adoption process happen across the board? Only time will tell.