The clash between influencer marketing and traditional advertising has been a topic of ongoing debate. And while both strategies have merit, the undeniable rise of influencer marketing from 1.7 billion in 2016 to 21 billion in 2023 (statista) suggests that it is emerging as a leading approach for many brands, especially in the B2C space.
In this blog post, we will explore the realm of influencer marketing and traditional advertising, highlighting the reasons why influencer marketing takes the lead in today’s marketing landscape.
The Ascension of Influencer Marketing
Over the past decade, influencer marketing has become a dominant force, reshaping marketing strategy for many brands. This shift is primarily due to the exponential growth of social media platforms, which has given rise to a new breed of thought leaders with an incredibly strong element that brands seek: trust.
Influencers have built their following based on authenticity and trust. When they endorse a product or service, it carries the weight of a personal recommendation, establishing a genuine connection with their audience.
Think about a time when a close friend or family member recommended a movie, a doctor, or a product/service. More often than not, we make purchases based on recommendations from people we trust.
Influence is just that: word-of-mouth at scale.
Laser-Focused Targeting: Influencers often cater to specific niches or demographics, allowing brands to precisely target their ideal audience. From beauty enthusiasts, fashion gurus, and fitness fanatics, to medical professionals, lifestyle creators, and travel/hospitality experts, there’s an influencer for every niche.
Engagement is Key: Influencer content is inherently engaging and interactive. Comments, likes, shares, and live interactions create a sense of community around the brand and foster genuine engagement.
In many cases, micro and nano influencers have an even deeper connection with their audience because they’re the ones who have enough time to answer comments, direct messages, and interact with their audience on a one-to-one basis.
While celebrity influencers undoubtedly have incredible reach, the audience-influencer connection factor is limited due to their volume of followers.
Storytelling: Influencers are skilled storytellers. They seamlessly integrate products into their content, making promotions feel natural and less disruptive to the audience’s browsing experience.
And if it’s done right, the brand-influencer content will integrate seamlessly into the influencer’s content style. Brands that try to ‘script’ influencers with rigid guidelines often have awful campaign results.
Audiences know the influencers they follow. So if a piece of content is not ‘on brand’, they will sense it right away and lose trust for both the influencer and the brand.
Boosting Influencer Marketing Through Paid Media: Using paid media to bolster an already well-performing piece of content on an influencer channel virtually guarantees incredible results. Not only will a higher percentage of the influencer audience see the creator’s content, but it will also reach a wider network outside of their audience and provide both more conversions and exposure for the brand.
The Erosion of Traditional Advertising
Traditional advertising, which includes TV, radio, print, billboards, and paid ads across platforms, has long been the cornerstone of marketing strategies. However, it is facing several challenges that make it less effective in today’s marketing landscape.
Weaknesses of Traditional Advertising
Declining Trust: Trust in traditional advertising has been on the decline. Consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of ads, viewing them as intrusive and less credible compared to personal recommendations from influencers. Over 27% of Americans alone use ad blockers to prevent advertising from appearing in their feed at all (Earthweb).
And from those who do not block ads, 82% ignore paid ads on the web, 37% ignore TV ads, and 36% ignore radio ads (Marketing Charts).
Inability to Foster Engagement: Traditional advertising channels often lack interactivity. TV commercials, print ads, and billboards do not provide the same opportunities for audience engagement as influencer-generated content.
Even paid ads across social media platforms often foster incredibly low trust levels, due to the extraordinary level of ad fatigue amongst consumers.
Expensive and Less Measurable: Traditional advertising can be expensive, particularly for prime TV slots or full-page print ads. Furthermore, measuring the ROI of traditional advertising can be challenging due to the limited ability to track conversions accurately.
The ROI Battle
Influencer Marketing ROI
Calculating ROI for influencer marketing is becoming increasingly sophisticated, thanks to the availability of data analytics tools. Marketers can track metrics such as clicks, conversions, and referral traffic to measure the campaign’s effectiveness accurately.
According to Statistica, 60% of marketers agree that influencer marketing has a higher ROI than traditional advertising (Statista). And brands that use influencer marketing are earning $5 for every $1 spent (Storyclash).
When executed effectively, influencer marketing campaigns can yield incredible results in terms of engagement, lead generation, and direct sales.
Traditional Advertising ROI
Determining ROI for traditional advertising can be challenging due to the difficulty of tracking conversions. While it can still be effective for some industries where a single sale can bring substantial revenue, it often requires a substantial upfront investment. Additionally, the lack of precise tracking can make it challenging to assess the direct impact of traditional advertising on the bottom line.
And because of the incredibly low trust factor across social media paid ads, conversions are often inconsistent or induce an upside-down ROI.
The Power of Integration
While influencer marketing emerges as the dominant force in marketing, it’s essential to acknowledge the value of integration. Successful marketing strategies often combine influencer marketing with other tactics to create a comprehensive approach.
For example, influencer marketing can be used to create authentic user-generated content that can be re-purposed for social, a brand’s website, or paid advertising on social media. Simultaneously, customers that are targeted via influencer marketing campaigns can then be re-targeted via paid ads.
This strategy allows for multiple touchpoints for already-warm prospective clients. And since it takes 32 times of exposure, on average for a customer to purchase a product or service, using retargeting can be incredibly powerful alongside influencer campaigns.
In the ongoing battle between influencer marketing and traditional advertising, influencer marketing emerges as a clear winner in today’s marketing landscape. Its strengths in authenticity, precise targeting, engagement, and increased and measurable ROI make it a formidable force that traditional advertising struggles to match.
While traditional advertising still has its place in some industries and can complement influencer marketing efforts, it is undeniable that the influencer marketing revolution has reshaped the marketing paradigm.
Brands that recognize the impact of influencer marketing and harness its power to build trust, engage audiences, and bolster reach using both long-term and short-term influencer strategies will outlast those that don’t.