Advertisers to lose $1.3 billion to fake followers in influencer marketing: Report

The figures represent about 15 percent of what the report predicts will be an $8.5 billion market this year in spending on global influencer marketing

by exchange4media Staff
Published - Jul 26, 2019 8:53 AM Updated: Jul 26, 2019 8:53 AM
influencer

A new report, from cybersecurity company Cheq and University of Baltimore economist and professor Roberto Cavazos, has revealed that fake followers in influencer marketing are likely to cost advertisers $1.3 billion this year.

Since influencer marketing has been hugely successful, brands try to reach their targeted audiences through social media. Even people with 500 to 1,000 followers on these platforms can make money by promoting products.

Brands pay huge sums globally in a year to promote their products through influencers who have a sizable following on top social media sites like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. But the report suggests that, for a good chunk of their spending, those advertisers may be getting ripped off. To appear more influential than they actually are, some influencers can buy fake followers and pay for bots to like or comment on their posts.

The fraud figure represents about 15 percent of what the report predicts will be an $8.5 billion market this year in spending on global influencer marketing. Cheq derived the expected fraud amount through an analysis of its own data (a review of services that exist to provide fake social media engagement, and research and surveys on the subject), Daniel Avital, Cheq’s chief strategy officer, reportedly said. The analysis was part of a series of reports Cheq is publishing on the monetary cost of bad actors on the internet.

Being a social media influencer can be profitable. According to the Cheq report, a 'micro influencer' with 10,000 followers can make $250 (Rs 17,000) for a sponsored post, while someone with a million or two followers can make $250,000 (Rs 1.75 crores approx.) per post.

“It used to be you had to be a Kim Kardashian or Kylie Jenner kind of person to be an influencer,” Avital was quoted as saying. Now there are so many “tiers of influencer” that people with very niche followings can get involved in the business.

He added that brands using influencer marketing should invest in their own vetting programs to ensure their influencers are legitimate. Though it requires time and labour, it’s “not a cybersecurity challenge,” he said. “It’s quite easy to understand if their followers are bogus.”

Consumers can also examine the legitimacy of influencers who are pitching them products by doing some analysis of their own. Social platforms too are making changes that might affect how fake influencers operate, for instance, Instagram is already testing banning the ‘like’ option.

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