Influencer Marketing is quickly becoming one of the most favourable forms of marketing.
Influencers are easy to reach, cheaper than celebrities, and boast incredible, interactive followings. However, how do you know what you're paying for when it comes to sponsoring an internet personality? Is there a way to accurately calculate return on investment?
We asked our panel of industry experts to see what they think.
The best way to measure and track performance of an influencer is by providing them with a tracking link connected to an analytics platform. This platform should provide you with stats such as attributed spend, retention D7- D30, estimated LTV of the attributed users and of course installs. Provided that the influencer uses this link in the description of their videos, social post etc, the data from this link is what we have used to measure the performance. Tracked data is usually an estimated 1/3rd of what the influencer is actually driving. Measuring the organic still remains a bit of a struggle, but you can estimate what sort of impact they had by looking at the uplift outside of the regular traffic. This is only accurate if there isn't anything else happening around the launch of the video such as featuring and UA Ads.
To measure the overall ROI of influencer marketing, marketers must measure the organic uplift, in addition to tracked installs. While some performance marketing may have a 10-20% organic uplift, it's a much larger portion of installs in influencer marketing. To get the clearest understanding of organic uplift, it's best to launch a campaign when no other marketing efforts or app store featuring are taking place. If this isn't possible, as it often isn't for larger publishers, trying it out in a smaller region, such as Germany, is a great way to test effectiveness of a campaign before rolling out worldwide.
When looking at a geography where influencer marketing is running without any other marketing, you can take a look at the overall installs after a influencer video/campaign was launched, subtract the base line organic installs as well as the tracked installs and you will be able to see the organic uplift. We've had campaigns with anywhere from 150%-700% organic uplift.
To track ROI with the tracked installs, it's important that we create attribution links that tie into all of our client's tracking systems (such as Kochava, Appsflyer, Applift, etc.) These systems can track the LTV, retention, etc of the users that came in with the campaign. These tracking links should be "smart" meaning they should know the device the link it's clicked on, directing you to the correct store including App Store, Google Play Store, Amazon App Store, and a designated landing page for desktop users. From there, our clients can determine the ROI of their campaigns based on the users brought in.
Jiri is the founder of Shark Punch, a transatlantic game development company working on a game about bank robberies in the 70s.
He was the CEO and a founder of the cross-platform gaming pioneer Rocket Pack, which was acquired by Disney in 2011.
He has been part of the Finnish games industry for almost 14 years, but currently resides in San Francisco because the weather in Helsinki sucks.
Having a tracked install link at the top of the video description is a must. On mobile, the attribution services are pretty reliable, but on Steam for example it can be quite tricky to reliably attribute installs to a specific video. And even on mobile, the number of unattributed installs is easily 2-3x that of attributed ones, so having a solid understanding of the baseline organic install rate is crucial.
I guess this is a good chance to also mention that we'll be rolling estimated organic lift into our analytics, which will make it easier to see the total impact of campaigns.
Tracking the performance of a Steam or console campaign before or immediately on launch admittedly leans more towards campaign benchmarking than ROI, but offers valuable insight - particularly in advance of tracked customer installs, or during the first few days of sales where establishing the organic baseline is harder to isolate for influencer activity.
The most consistent 'early' KPI we've found for Steam and Console launches continues to be livestream and VOD watchtimes (measured separately and cumulatively), although even something as simple as tracking pre-launch playtime and influencer sampling are good performance indicators.
Everything has been said by my peers above about tracking links for mobile, which are good to compare influencers performances and audiences matches against one another. We also agree that for brands, console games and mobile games that are in full-on growth mode (= behaving like brands), then campaign benchmarking becomes the only possible measurement tool we can utilize.
Pascal Clarysse started looking for so-called Growth Hacks a good decade before the buzzword was coined.
Clarysse used to be the marketing driving force at Lik-Sang.com, where he was in charge of relentlessly spotting new trends, waves and magic holes. In recent years, he's served as a marketing consultant for various indie studios, participating in launching mobile games and the occasional Kickstarter campaign.
Before all this though, let's not assume YouTube works well for every product. First phase when on-boarding a new client or when launching a new game should be to test if YouTube is a strong vehicle compared to the rest of the marketing mix, and you can observe this by booking 3 or 4 videos in isolation from any other marketing activity, in a market that is large enough for a test but not too widespread in terms of language (example: Germany, France, Italy - or if you want a cheaper playground: Brazil).
Not everything is a visual spectacle, and some products need more "creative planning" than others. Other products are just not a fit, full stop.
Conversion data are not carved in stones and one should be cautious about a couple of extra things:
- Just because one product got X in conversion ratio with a specific creator doesn't mean all other products will get the same conversion ratio. Not all products are born equals.
- The fact you obtained ratio X the first time you collab with a creator, doesn't mean you'll always hit X the following times. Some influencers have strong conversion with follow-ups, but in many cases you'll find that you had most of your impact with his or her audience the first time you worked together.
Bottom line: this is not a science.
There's a danger of mistaking influencer activity for performance marketing. The strength of working with content creators is creating a partnership between your product or brand and the community built around that creator. The key is influence, and the benefits are much more powerful than a performance metric will show.
With YouTube especially there is a huge attribution issue. In our testing, less than 10% of people who will go from a video to a specific landing page using the tracking link in the description. (Do *you* ever do that?)
However, that doesn't mean it's not working. Just that you might be misattributing where the click comes from.
Treating influencer activity as a separate channel, building a specific campaign around distinct goals and tracking that is harder but it's a much more effective way to weigh up ROI.
I’d love to add that according to a recent poll we conducted with some big spenders on influencer marketing for mobile, the majority (80%) of them uses measurement of organic uplift combined with directly tracked installs to calculate the ROI of the campaign. Additionally some of the clients (30%) take other factors into consideration, for example Engagement rate (likes, comments) and overall reach (views).
One of the important things is to know what was the CPI and then track the revenue these newly acquired users generated. Knowing this leads us to finding out if ROI is positive.
The platform we have in-house helps us to pick downloads numbers from both tracker link and also allows to input clients data of organic uplift. Adding real-time revenue data from clients BI allows us to calculate ROI in real-time. To my understanding, the biggest issue is correct calculation of organic uplift, as this factor is of particular importance once you calculate the ROI of influencer marketing campaign.
Since my specialty is Mobile I will speak to the mobile side of things mainly. The best way to track performance for Mobile is to use a tracking link to figure out average retention and spend of users brought in by the you tubers posting videos. Its important to remember the tracking link is only good for the 1/3-1/10 of the people who use it. I have seen and done tests with companies in which we have shut off UA marketing for a week or two ( which I realize isn’t always possible for a company to do) and had talent post videos we tracked organic uplift for the first 48 hours of each video and for the overall 2 weeks of No UA marketing and fount for every 1 tracked download, we had 8-10 organic downloads… you can assume that the 8-10 organics that came from the talent have the same stats or very similar as the tracked ones. Which is why its important to use a tracking link to get base line stats.
So to put it simply, ORGANIC TRACKING IS THE BEST WAY to track Downloads, while using the tracking link to measure average spend & retention of each download that individual talent brought in…
If you aren’t doing mobile or gaming in general but rather doing products online or in store you can kinda use the same tactics try to give people unique coupons etc to track direct sales and then check your overall sales increases the month that you are doing influencer marketing versus the other months of sales… but to be honest unless I know your exact product being sold and the scale of sales and across which platforms I can’t give any better advice, as large brands have tons of limitations on what can and can’t be done or things that are just to complicated to do etc. To be clear tracking on products isn’t my specialty most companies like this tend to ask us how to brand there products in a specific image to increase brand awareness as a whole to millions of people.
If you’d like to be involved with our panel of Viral Visionaries, drop an email to our editor, [email protected], or our senior editor [email protected]