The influencer marketing space has become lucrative, but it still remains difficult to navigate.
More and more brands and companies are looking to expand their budgets, but many of them don't actually know how to approach influencers.
Placing an ad inside an influencer's content is not like running a normal ad. It takes a bespoke approach and an understanding of each creator's style, beliefs and audience.
This is where companies like Fourth Floor Creative come in. Fourth Floor brings years of hands-on experience with influencers into the marketing space. They know what they want because they've spent five years figuring it out. We caught up with managing director Rich Keith to learn about the company's first year of business and their plans leading into 2019.
InfluencerUpdate.biz: What is Fourth Floor and what services do you offer?
Rich Keith: Fourth Floor is an agency, and our mission really is to enable creators to keep on creating. We connect them with high-value commercial campaigns, as well as providing merchandising and production services.
How has Fourth Floor's first year been for you?
So November 13th was our first anniversary, and the first year has been pretty exciting. The genesis of it was that I had been with The Yogscast helping run their commercial activity for just under five years. What we had found was that we were working with a lot of agencies that. from our point of view, didn't really understand how to get the best out of creators.
We felt that a lot of agencies were approaching it similarly to traditional media, just placing a product into a piece of content to get it out there, rather than understanding the creative process.
So instead of complaining about that, we sought to set up the perfect agency for creators instead. Being with The Yogscast gave me a lot of experience in how to work with creators. We also learned a lot of lessons in that period, but I think the success of Fourth Floor is a testament to learning those lessons.
It's fair to say that influencer marketing doesn't always get a good rep. What would you say to business and brands that are wary of the space or those that have been put off by bad tales?
As a lot of companies try their hand at influencer marketing, they come at it in one of two ways. One thing we see, especially in games, is if someone can't get coverage for a game then they'll pay for it to be covered. That's the wrong way to do it from our point of view.
The other way is that companies will see creators as an advertising channel. They'll put a certain amount of money in and expect a certain outcome, the same way you would if you were buying Facebook or Google ads. That's also, in my experience, not the way to look at it.
One of the things we're trying to push at Fourth Floor is what working with creators entails - not influencers - influence is the byproduct of what creators do, not the purpose of it. Working with creators is a completely different advertising channel, not a version of something else.
To get it right, you have to partner with that creator to work out what will work best for their content and audience. Where marketing fails is when messages don't fit authentically on a creator's channels. The audience can smell that and the whole thing becomes pointless.
We want there to be value on both sides. The creator needs to be paid for what they do and the influence that they have. The value for brands is finding someone to work with who can market something in a way that encourages their audience to engage with it.
The value for the audience is whether a sponsored piece of content is as good, if not better than the rest of the content on a channel.
You really start feeling the power of it when brands partner properly and quality content is produced; the audience really gets behind that and the sentiment towards a brand becomes positive because it's working with someone's favourite creator.
What do you think are the hottest trends in the influencer space right now?
I think more and people are understanding that it's about building a relationship between brand and creator. Driving good experiences is something that is happening more.
Marketing fails when messages don't fit authentically on a creator's channels. The audience can smell that and the whole thing becomes pointless.Rich Keith
It's hard to settle on specific trends as there are so many new people trying it out. I think it's fair to say that there are three types of attitudes towards influencer marketing right now: the 'no, never' types, the ones who are trying it but not really doing it in an authentic way, and then there are people who are trying out lots of different approaches to really find the voice for this type of content.
Are the problems with the current influencer marketing space that need to be addressed?
Well, there's lots of people doing it badly. Whevener that happens, it's easy to say that the entire sector isn't working. That said, the people that aren't doing it well should eventually die out and the ones getting it right will be left. There'll be some inevitable consolidation within influencer marketing in the next few years.
With that said, where do you see the space heading in 2019?
Our long term bet here is that traditional advertising is slowly dying away. It's doing that because consumers don't want it. They're blocking it - 70 per cent of The Yogscast audience is adblocking. Any medium trying to get around ad-blocking can't have a long shelf life. As that kind of advertising starts drifting away then branded content with creators will continue to rise and rise.
The other thing that is changing is people's viewing habits. If you look at how people are viewing content, it doesn't matter if it's traditional TV, Netflix or YouTube, it's all on a screen and inevitably, video-based advertising is all coming close together. In a few years we won't be talking about TV advertising as a separate place, it'll all be forms of video advertising, and branded content will be the way that companies get their message out.
What does Fourth Floor have planned for 2019?
Our plan is to expand to new territories. We've already established an office in France and our North American office is due to open in mid-January. We're also looking to move into Germany, and have a German office set up in the first six months of 2019.
The other thing is new markets. We're really strong on games of course, but we're slowly moving into other markets and plan to go harder on that. We've started to do a lot more within Food and Drink, and we're assessing other markets to push in to now.
Rich Keith will be making an appearance at Pocket Gamer Connects London on Tuesday 22nd January. He'll be taking part in 'The Holy Grail: How to get the best out of influencers' alongside Yogscast CEO Mark Turpin and Gameinfluencer senior PR manager Benedikt Seitz.