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Rustin BanksCo-Founder and Chief Product OfficerTapInfluence
TapInfluence has created an influencer marketplace and platform that automates the process of identifying, distributing and measuring influencer marketing campaigns. eMarketer’s Yory Wurmser spoke with Rustin Banks, TapInfluence’s co-founder and chief product officer, about the evolution of influencer marketing into a media channel with audience targeting and offline attribution.
eMarketer: You helped found TapInfluence in 2008. How has influencer marketing evolved since then?
Rustin Banks: When TapInfluence started out, influencer marketing was all unpaid because people viewed it as more PR-focused than they did media-focused. As people realized that each of these influencers is a media channel that can drive revenue, we have seen it switch to a vast majority of paid.
We’ve also seen it scale. When we started, a large influencer program was maybe 10 influencers in a particular program. But we have brands now that are running programs with 1,000 influencers.
Of course the networks have also changed. When we started, the majority were blog-focused in 2008. And now that’s the minority of what we do. The majority of influencer activations take place on Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
eMarketer: Which platform gives you the most bang for your buck?
Banks: It varies by industry. Food is actually blog posts and Pinterest, because recipe is the biggest driver of influence-marketing purchases on behalf of food brands. Banking and finance tends to be Facebook. And then of course demographic-wise, anyone targeting younger millennials, I mean, you might as well not even do Facebook. It’s all about Snapchat and Instagram. If you are targeting younger people, very few blogs [matter].
eMarketer: Where is the money for these influencer marketing programs?
Banks: Now that brands can tie it to revenue, they’re treating it more like a media channel. Brands are pulling budget from TV, they’re pulling budget from display ads and they’re putting it into influencer.
eMarketer: How do you identify influencers?
Banks: We offer two modes. One, brands can import influencers into our marketplace. These could be the people they’ve identified with social listening systems who have mentioned a brand they want to work with. These could be people that they’ve identified using their social media management system, maybe people who have just reached out to them on Twitter. They could even come from their CRM.
Two, brands can access our vetted marketplace of 35,000 influencers. We’ve built an audience profile for every influencer.
eMarketer: Do retailers approach influencer marketing differently from other industries?
Banks: I would say that retailers do have more emphasis on the middle of the funnel and the bottom funnel than other sectors that use our platform.
eMarketer: Have any retailers coordinated with brands to work with influencers?
Banks: We see a fair amount. For example, in the grocery space working on behalf of brands, they’ll actually pool their budgets together and grocery brands will do influencer programs on behalf of a food brand.
eMarketer: Do you have any way to connect influencer marketing to offline sales?
Banks: Yes, we can do marketing mix modeling, meaning that we can correlate spikes in influencer marketing to spikes in sales. We can put that model into our software, and it will tell you on a per-influencer basis how many sales each influencer is driving.
We also integrate with the brand-lift providers [to see how other marketing media are performing], and then we can tie their numbers back to revenue models.
But what I’m really excited about is what we’re doing right now. We have partnerships with Datalogix and Nielsen, where we can actually get loyalty card data and use it to tie influencers to offline purchases.
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