New guidelines introduced to help measure influencer marketing

The U.S. Association of National Advertisers has released guidelines to help marketers with one of their big influencer marketing challenges: measurement.

While the industry has standardized paid influencer metrics, the new “Influencer Marketing Measurement Guidelines” were developed to provide standardized measurement practices, clarity and consistency to organic influencer marketing.

“Organic influencer relations are just as important as paid,” said Rob Loschiavo, vice-president and associate creative director at Pomp & Circumstance. “Organic influencer relations are the first step in the building block approach to the success of an overall influencer strategy.”

Influencer marketing has enjoyed massive growth in recent years, valued at $13.8 billion globally, and projected to nearly double to $25 billion by 2025. But when ANA surveyed its members in late 2020, 79% of respondents said their top influencer marketing challenge was measurement.

The guidelines (which can be downloaded here) are from an American association, but will also be useful for Canadian brands and agencies.

“Measurement has always been a critical component of the work we do, so it is not something that we struggle with,” said Misty Meeks, vice-president and practice lead, strategy, insights and digital, at National Public Relations. “Nevertheless, the introduction of industry standards is a positive development, as this has been missing for some time.”

“Measurement is not necessarily difficult, but it is limited to vanity metrics as a form of measurement,” said Loschiavo. “Having an industry-standard measurement reporting template not only helps our clients but the industry overall, as we navigate through the ever-evolving landscape.”

ANA identified two main reasons why so many marketers struggle with measurement: lack of standardization and consistency across platforms and agencies.

  • Lack of standardization across platforms. Each of the eight big platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube) defines an “engagement” differently. Where one platform might consider an auto-play video as engagement, another only counts actions such as likes, comments or shares;
  • Lack of measurement consistency across agencies. Campaign metrics provided to brands are often not well defined, nor calculated consistently. “Agencies often use proprietary measurement algorithms, which make it challenging for brands to know how different campaigns led by different agencies are performing when compared with each other,” said ANA.

The association’s Influencer Marketing Advisory Board (which includes big brands like Bayer, Mastercard, P&G, Puma and Unilever) worked with leading agencies and social platforms to create the new guidelines, which include metrics in three categories: Awareness, Engagement, and Conversion.

Each category defines key metrics with, brief notes of explanation and examples. In Awareness, for example, Total Reach is defined as “the sum of unique users exposed per post on the platform where the campaign is activated.”

The example provided is: “Influencer A has one post with five million unique reach on Instagram and two million unique video views on YouTube. Influencer B has two posts on Instagram with two million in unique reach each. Total unique reach is 11 million.”

In Conversion, Total Sales Generated is defined as “the sum of sales generated that can be directly attributed to the influencer campaign. This might include coupon code redemptions, sales made via an affiliate link, and the amount of purchases made in-app using shoppable tools.”

ANA also provided three notes on recommended usage for marketers:

1. Use the guidelines as a starting point to understand differences across platforms; let your platform points of contact know you will be using the guidelines going forward;

2. Share the guidelines with your internal marketing teams, not just the leaders on the influencer campaigns, but across the marketing organization; and

3. Share with your agency partners and align with them on their definition and calculations.

Though the guidelines were only released a few days ago, Loschiavo said his agency has already reviewed them. They want to follow the most up-to-date industry practices, and they can help to not only assess the effectiveness of campaigns, but shape creative and strategic thinking during planning, he said.

“When we have a clear understanding of which measurements we can achieve or report on from a program we can inform our program’s direction and planning to ensure we’re meeting a client’s business need and objective.”

David Brown