'Brands are using influencer marketing for driving virality of content & engagement'

GroupM President Partnerships & Trading Ashwin Padmanabhan and INCA Senior Director Kunal Sawant unveiled the inaugural India Influencer Marketing Report 2021 at the conference

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 20, 2021 9:35 AM

Influencer marketing has emerged as an industry in India and is becoming an important part of the marketing mix for many brands, Group-M President Partnerships and Trading Ashwin Padmanabhan said at the unveiling of the inaugural India Influencer Marketing Report 2021. He also said that influencer marketing has become an important part of GroupM's recommendations to its clients.

“Influencer marketing has become an industry in the last few years. It is not something that people do for a hobby, it's become an industry, and it has grown exponentially. In fact, influencer marketing has become an important part of GroupM's media recommendations to clients. It has become an important part of marketing mix,” Padmanahbhan said while speaking at the Impact Digital Influencer Conference and Awards.

He further stated that authenticity and trust are the two things that embody the relationship between an influencer and their audience. “They have got brands who are seeking influencers and working with them to replicate the same trust with the audiences. We are happy to see more and more brands recognising this power of influencer marketing and making it an important part of their brand strategy.”

Talking about the need for bringing out the report on influencer marketing, Padmanabhan said, “While influencer marketing is still at a nascent stage, and we have just discovered the tip of the iceberg, as the influencer industry continues to evolve we feel that there is a strong need to quantify and organise this space and thus the India Influencer report was born where we try to highlight some interesting findings on the growth of influencer marketing in India and the trends to follow.”

Padmanabhan also highlighted some of the key trends that will shape influencer marketing. These are the rise of D2C brands, measurement and accountability, and influencer commerce. He noted that the biggest advantage of digital is its duality, as it can act as an independent medium and also act as a measurement tool for traditional mediums as well.

India, he said, already has got 600+ D2C brands and almost all these brands have worked with influencers to drive not just awareness or consideration but also drive purchase. “Influencer marketing will be at the core of any D2C brand's marketing strategy. Interesting collaborations will be evolving between influencers and these brands,” he stated.

According to Padmanabhan, the other piece which will define the way influencer marketing evolves in the coming years will be measurement and accountability. “Influencer marketing will become mainstream as measurement and accountability comes in. Metrics like cost per engagement, cost per sales, return on ad spends, all of these will start becoming important, and we will have tools to measure them. We already have tools to measure them. This will give that much credibility to influencer marketing.”

Influencer commerce, he believes, will become an integral part of a brands' sales channel mix. “This is specially true for D2C brands and specialist platforms like Trell or e-commerce platforms like Myntra and social platforms like Instagram, which has taken a lead in this area. While most have stayed in this area for demand generation and order taking, we could see a full funnel experience for consumers very soon. We can see new business models emerging here.”

Padmanabhan noted that the influencer ecosystem will expand both in-depth and width driven by Indian short-video platforms like MX TakaTak, Josh, Moj as well vernacular and social platforms like ShareChat and Dailyhunt. “We are seeing an explosion in talent as well as audience on these platforms.”

He also said the measurement tools for influencer marketing will get sharper and better. “There is going to be an interesting play between influencers and their audiences. Our tools are going to become more sophisticated in understanding the audiences that influencers have. Campaign planning will become more data driven. We will get some precious insights which will be invaluable for a marketer.”

INCA, GroupM's influencer marketing agency, has seen nano influencers drive a 10X engagement to a macro influencer. “On the flip side, the campaign objectives will define which influencer type to work with, and a lot of this will come from data and analytics,” Padmanabhan said.

Taking on from where Padmanabhan left, INCA Senior Director Kunal Sawant said that new formats like audio, short-form video, live-streaming, and social commerce will drive engagement. He further stated that self-regulation will drive privacy.

“Looking at the kind of investments that brands are doing on influencer marketing, there was a need for regulation. The ASCI guidelines are a welcome move which will build transparency and accountability both from a platform and creator perspective,” he added.

Sawant said that the brands are using influencer marketing for driving consideration, virality of content and engagement. He also noted that there is a misconception that influencer marketing is only about the top of the marketing funnel and awareness.

He also highlighted that the biggest reason why brands partner with content creators is trust and credibility, as they drive customer acquisition. The key challenges faced by brands are keeping up with trends, understanding the right content, choosing the right creator, measuring ROI, brand safety and authenticity (bots/fake followers).

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