The influencer marketing industry is worth $1.5bn, as of 2018, with three out of every four brands using the marketing technique. By 2020, influencer marketing is predicted to be a $10bn industry. Following the recent influx in influencer marketing popularity, brands are seeking agencies like Billion Dollar Boy, which provides influencer strategy and manage digital campaigns. These agencies hire campaign-appropriate talent, negotiate contracts, and help create and approve marketing material.
“I would say influencer marketing is in the strongest state it’s ever been in. It’s increasingly becoming a larger and more important piece of brand marketing campaigns. It provides a huge array of quality content creatives that now provide a great deal of supply to the market of content, meaning the quality sifts through,” says Edward East, CEO and co-founder of Billion Dollar Boy. “Traditionally, you’d have to pay for content to be created by a creative agency and distributed by a media agency. Now, the environment is that you really get two for the price of one.”
Influencer marketing agencies are also rapidly adopting artificial intelligence technology to increase efficiency and optimize monetary investments. AI can provide image recognition, determine influencer performance, predict incentives, determine influence, flag posts that don’t follow disclosure guidelines, and eliminate fake engagement and spam bots.
“AI is really creating efficiency. It's allowing companies like Billion Dollar Boy who run influencer marketing campaigns at scale, all across the world, to automate certain processes which would take individuals a lot of manual time,” says East. “AI is allowing those individuals to focus their time on other areas. It’s a really key piece, I think, to this industry. People should really be trying to harness the power of AI, to automate and really prove efficiency.”
Influencer marketing content can be distributed on social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but Instagram Stories leads the way. The 'swipe up' feature debuted by Instagram encourages influencers to post an ad on their story, enabling a viewer to swipe up and be redirected to the product’s website.
“Instagram Stories are becoming a primary marketing channel. Last year, Instagram Stories had around 400m daily uses, growing at a rate of 8m a month,” says East. “They’re quick and easy to produce, and the content disappears after a period of time. People could create a lot more of that content and more cost effectively.”
There are, however, new problems that have surfaced because of influencer marketing campaigns. Some promoters weren’t disclosing the fact that their content was sponsored or paid for, forcing organisations like the Advertising Standards Authority to create a set of guidelines for influencers. Fake followers, drops in engagement, and lack of trust or authenticity are all problems the industry is trying to address, explains East. According to the CEO, Billion Dollar Boy takes specific precautions to prevent these problems from affecting their campaigns.
“I think it’s a shame that people have bought fake followers in the past, and perhaps benefited from the fact that it could have appeared they had an engaged following to someone who wasn’t too familiar with the channel. Moving forward, I think the weight of the problem relies equally on everyone’s shoulders,” says East.
“Billion Dollar Boy is an agency that uses internal tools to figure out if someone has bought their followers. We also use our team’s general knowledge and thier incredible way of looking at the comments, the engagement rates (depending on the scale of the influencer), and just any other anomalies that may appear, to give you a pretty good idea,” adds East.
The agency, which represents clients such as Estee Lauder, PepsiCo, Coach, and L’Oréal, has released two platforms to help manage and track influencer content. Matchmaker offers campaign management, custom analytics, access to an influencer database, and a content library. StoryTracker allows users to locate, download and save Instagram Stories before they disappear.
“We started trying to develop software that would make our agency team more efficient,” says East. “We also use that software to run these campaigns on behalf of our clients. And finally, we’ve now started licensing out that software, so that other brands and agencies and individuals can run the campaign on their own, but not through the agency.”
In 2018, Billion Dollar Boy saw a staff growth of 45 per cent, including the hire of the agency’s first-ever director of client services, Kathy Dover. Dover, who had previously offered guidance to Billion Dollar Boy before she joined the company, will oversee the account management teams and develop relationships with clients.
“We’re growing. We’re trying to find the right new hires to bring in. Those with experience, and also some rising stars. Not only that, we’re investing further and further into our technology which is alongside our strategic and creative ability. It’s proving to be a differentiator between Billion Dollar Boy and other companies that exist in the field,” says East.