Influencer marketing is giving way to what's being dubbed "the producer economy," which consists of content creators who want to create their own media brands separate from social media platforms. As brands establish their own media networks to connect with customers, the desire for more control over distribution significantly influences them as well.
Jennifer Smith, CMO of online video platform Brightcove, stated, "The digital landscape is so messy, and it's so hard to break through the noise. The challenge for marketing is to think about two things: how to create content for that space, and then how do you distribute that content back to the right people?"
Producers and companies can work on spreading long-form content similar to TV networks and shows by assuming full ownership of what they generate. According to Brightcove, they can produce higher-quality content that draws on specialist knowledge and extends publicity to their own media brands.
While the approach provides more flexibility and creator control, it is not without its drawbacks. By foregoing popular consumer sites, creators and brands are taking a chance on the Wild West of independent platforms, risking audiences opting for content readily accessible on their favored social apps.
Following the huge rise of content creators in recent years, this next chapter in the development of influencer marketing has emerged.
As per data provided by Statista, global expenditure on influencers increased to $13.8 billion last year from $6.5 billion back in 2019.
And according to Brightcove research, in the midst of this industry boom, content creators sometimes struggle to determine their worth when negotiating brand collaborations, particularly as social media platforms can take up to 45 percent of creators' ad revenue.
Also, creators and companies who have their own channels on social media or video-sharing sites will have to rely on recommendation algorithms that do not guarantee organic reach.
Their content could become overlooked among the huge number of materials already available, in turn reducing the return on investment.
Smith explained, "You can spend a lot of time creating all of this very expensive, great content." "You put it up on YouTube, and your competitors advertise against it, and the same is true of all these social media channels."
Presented with the jumble of videos on numerous platforms, Brightcove customers are asking for increased content ownership so they may have more authority over video production and channel management, according to Smith.
"They're saying, 'how do I create a channel that keeps my audiences engaged, [but] not a website because they're hard to navigate?'"
Building creator collaborations
Influencers and companies who own and manage their media platforms are likely to shift their partnerships as the creator economy evolves into a producer economy. According to Brightcove, marketers should consider not only their own goals when negotiating partnerships, but also the interests of the content creator, influencer, or other possible brand partners.
"Marketers are thinking about this whether they're selling financial services or a piece of technology or a children's game," Smith said. "They're saying, 'how do we actually create content in a compelling way, and how do we put that count out in channels that we own?'"
Brands that develop in-house content production teams have greater freedom in how they negotiate influencer partnerships. Brands and influencers will require analytics to assess results and guide future initiatives, regardless of whether they intend to cooperate for a single campaign or a longer-term marketing collaboration.
"Between the one-off engagement and more of a longer-term contract, the challenge comes in understanding the return that it's getting you," Smith added. "Marketers are still behind when it comes to the analytics of understanding what it's delivering for us."
Authenticity and the safety of the brand
User-generated content (UGC) on video-sharing and social media applications has resulted in a higher popular acceptance of online personas that appear more genuine and relevant. As per a Consumer Technology Association poll, UGC accounts for 39 percent of weekly media hours for U.S. consumers, compared to 61 percent for traditional material. According to the report, time spent watching UGC is on the verge of eclipsing time spent watching traditional television among teenagers. Nevertheless, advertisers whose marketing messages show next to or incorporated within it are concerned about brand safety as a result of its growing popularity.
"The producer economy is creating new opportunities for marketers as they step up and become producers themselves," Smith noted. "Now that they are unleashed from the constraints of other publishers and even social sites, it gives marketers more control over their content."
Video with a stronger message and brand tie-in, as well as statistics and analytics that provide a more transparent perspective of audiences, are among the controls available. The information in videos shared on social media or other platforms is pooled and anonymized, minimizing the insights advertisers might gain.
Although businesses could mitigate these concerns by managing their own media channel, regardless if it's a connected TV (CTV) app or another method of disseminating video, they won't anymore have the opportunity to outsource production, content management, or influencer recruitment, requiring them to become jacks-of-all-trades. It might take a lot of time, money, and experiments to develop in-house expertise for a variety of activities.
It's a fine line to walk between creating material that expresses the desired message and executing it in a manner that aligns with the current trend of less-polished content. Brands and creators who get in early and learn from their mistakes may be able to help guide the influencer marketing industry as a whole.
Smith remarked, "I'm challenging people to think outside of the box when it comes to creating their own owned and operated channels. The long-term will pay off dividends."