Network Buys vs. Influencer Engagement – what’s really best for reach?
Digital marketing strategist Leon Bailey-Green discusses likely changes in the nature of brand awareness campaigns online.
Spend for direct response campaigns is widely expected to swamp that devoted to brand awareness in digital media.
But if we assume brands, for whom awareness is vital, continue with the latter form of activity, it looks as if 2009 will see them take risks in how they achieve that holy ‘reach’.
For mass market brands, getting consumer reach, through network advertising buys (as well as integrated campaigns around premium content), has been the done thing for some time.
It’s the guaranteed way to fill the digital component of the TV, press and outdoor advertising mix – you know what they say: “if you hear/see something three times... you’ll remember it”.
So how will blind network buys fare for the rest of 2009? Looking at the success of networks like Glam, very well indeed. But some in the industry, notably viral agencies, would say this is the old school way of achieving reach.
One company thinks influencer engagement is the new school way.
Tailsweep, a new entrant to the UK digital pr/advertising world, is aiming to sign up the top 10% of bloggers in lucrative sectors in non-exclusive agreements, and work on their behalf to secure tailored advertising packages for brands, both direct and through agencies.
They may sound like an ‘agent’ of bloggers but when you marry their aforementioned function with their ability to track and report on the viral success of campaigns they could be on to the new form of reach.
Why would a brand choose blind network buys over having their brand exposed to the audiences of the top 10% of influential blogs their sector – and more importantly the bloggers themselves?
With social media monitoring companies like Market Sentinel increasingly being hired by brands to evaluate the influencers in their sector, you have to accept there is something in influencer engagement.
Blogging may offer a relatively cheap way into market, but the process, dedication and time involved in becoming a top blogging influencer is expensive and timely – they need to make a return and they’re suddenly realising their worth as ‘influencers’.
They know their words and images inspire consumers, as well as a legion of next tier bloggers who have a similar effect – they want their influence recognised and respected. This attitude opens an opportunity for brands to ‘engage’ through advertising spend, as an alternative to traditional PR-like relations.
In these testing times, bloggers and blog networks will be open to brand engagement on a paid-for/ advertising level more than ever. Whatever happens between bloggers and advertisers, one thing’s for sure; digital PR and digital advertising is coming together, or getting closer together at least.
Network advertising is highly unlikely to lead to editorial, but influencer engagement through paid placement could – you’re presenting your brand to the influencers and supporting their work too. But advertisers should realise it’s more ‘could’ than ‘will’.
The most influential bloggers can never reliably be bought but their attention can. Brands who build relations with them on an advertising, as well as a PR, level will have more success in getting their message out to consumers through influencers over untargeted network buys.
About the Author
Leon Bailey-Green is an Online Fashion Consultant, Digital Marketing Strategist and Blogger. Leon works as a consultant to the online fashion industry advising on marketing, partnership and business strategy. He was on the judging panel of the Drapers Etail Awards, which saw ASOS and My-Wardrobe.com win two awards each, and writes The Online Fashion Position for Drapers Online.