Remember the old data science T-shirt?

“In God we trust. All others must bring data.”

It’s all about measurement

Measurement is always important, especially for brands, without it you can’t measure return on investment. A lot of marketing campaigns are like that, just throw it out there and hope that someone clicks on the link or at least looks at the landing page. If you’re using an email system like MailChimp then you can see a lot of metrics on opens, bounces and so on. From what I’ve witnessed and thought about this year, influencers don’t seem to be able to measure and this got me thinking.

There’s an increasing distrust between hotels and influencers. To be honest I find the whole approach baffling to a degree which goes along the lines of “If you give me a free room for seven nights I’ll post this stuff on my social media accounts as exposure, I’ve got 10,000 followers”, for some it works so in some respects I’ve got a lot to learn about sticking my neck out and asking for stuff……

Basically…… Jack Bedwani from The Projects put it perfectly in a recent piece in The Atlantic: “They get five to 20 direct inquiries a day from self-titled influencers,” he said. “The net is so wide, and the term ‘influencer’ is so loose.”

Different Platforms Bring Difference Challenges

The path to measurement is not straightforward as one might hope. Thinking of the main platforms of use: Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat and Facebook – each have their own way of doing things. What these mainly measure are views, okay as a starting point but ultimately a pointless measure. “So my picture of your hotel was seen by 2,576 people.”, so what?

With Instagram you can’t embed links in the posts. You can add a link but the reader will have to copy/paste or type it in themselves. So any form of tracking at that point is out of the window. I know, I tried. You can though add the username of the sponsoring account but how on earth do you measure that, well you don’t.

A number of companies have tried the whole embedding links on YouTube video, Taggled.tv from Belfast had a good shot at it and gained some traction, sadly it seems to be no more. With YouTube there is at least a decent description block to put all your links in….. watch YouTube on a PS4 console for example and all the decent info is lost or just plain hard to get to.

Measurement is a challenge.

A mini case study: Let’s look at Louis

Louis Cole, better known as FunForLouis is a traveller, vlogger and seems to be a nice guy (never met him but I do watch his stuff). He does a lot of sponsored stuff for various brands like Nokia, Google and tourism departments. The videos are nice and with a small group of friends/influencers has his own boutique influencer consultancy Live The Adventure Club.

Looking at his last video I’ve made a couple of observations, keeping in mind this is just a first pass. I’m not going knock Louis, that’s not what I’m doing I’m just using the video as an example.

Brands will always want to know what the reach is. Louis has 2 million subscribers who get some sort of notification when a new video goes up. The real metric though is the actual views or an average of the views over the last twenty videos. Which I’m estimating to be about in the 45k area which is 2.25% of Louis’ subscriber base. Is that something to be worried about? I have no idea, these are merely observations, my biased opinion would think it’s a red flag but brands go with Louis as he has a reputation and that counts for a lot online so I totally get why a brand would go with him, he’s a safe pair of hands.

The place for measurement……

Here it is, the YouTube description. Let’s look at Louis’ video again.

There’s a lot of real estate here and it’s being used. There’s 18 lines of text here (and a lot more underneath). One is used for the sponsor and, for me the ultimate marketing sin, there’s no link back to the sponsor. Is there a reason why? Is there something I’m not seeing?

It’s not like there can’t be affiliate links as Louis has links to all the computer and camera gear he’s using with Amazon partner links to purchase which give a kickback in the form of cold hard cash. So it’s not like it can’t be done, it just hasn’t been done.

As a sponsor that’s exactly what I’d want to be measured. So the question is, how?

We need a measurement system

Oh yes we do. And I’m going to go back to my influencer/hotel model here because it’s been the one I’ve been thinking about the most, especially when influencers promise all sorts without any form of reference or reputation. Remember brands, anyone can buy 10,000 users for very little money. And to some folk perception is everything, “I’ve got 100k fans!”.

So influencer approaches hotel:

“If you give me seven nights at your hotel in return I’ll do two five minute YouTube videos.”

That’s fine but it shouldn’t happen for free. Right now this is just bartering with no negotiation. And the job comes in the haggling. It’s all about ceilings and floors.

How about the hotel does a 25% discount and along with it a custom link. For every successful booking that comes through that link we’ll deduct 5% of the booked amount from your account. If you get a lot of bookings via your videos then you’ll start making money.

For example: The Eden Andalou Aquapark and Spa is currently £1852 for the Executive Suite per person.  If the 25% influencer discount was applied it would be £1389. Every successful linked booking (it has to come from the video otherwise you can’t track it) would deduct £92.60 from the influencer’s balance. Fifteen bookings via the video would clear the balance and then after that the influencer would be in profit.

If you’re video is getting 15k views then that’s 0.1% click through to purchase, that’s not actually bad going. If 5% of the 15k clicked on the link (750 people) and 5% booked (37.5 but let’s call it 38) then £3,518.80 revenue to the influencer is a nice week at the very plush office. That’s assuming everyone’s booking the same suite as you were in. The hotel will have done well out of the deal too, a return on investment: £70,376 – £3518.80 = £66,857.20

Personally I think it’s important that influencers can think this way. This is what brands will want to see going forward, this kind of thinking. The issue will always be traceability.

It’s a numbers game, it always has been and it always will be.

Conclusions

Brands want to de-risk, it’s as simple as that. Anyone can be an influencer and with so many influencers in the eco-system it’s it’s really difficult for any brand to figure out who’s going to be best for the brand.

So, there has to be sacrifice on both sides. A hotel doesn’t want to lose money and an influencer doesn’t want to lose out on a decent place to stay. (I’ve yet to see an influencer do a sponsored video for Premier Inn or Travelodge).

I think fashion is different, cost of production of dresses is vastly different, easier to ship and it’s just eyeballs at that point, like most fashion advertising, it’s just a sunk cost. If this concept could be used, I’d be on the phone to Zara by the end of the day.

What I’ve outlined is hardly new, it’s affiliate marketing mechanics with measurement on both sides. I’ve just added it to my list of things to build…..

The real challenge is the platforms themselves, I’ve proved out that YouTube is workable, I’m assuming that Facebook posts would be the same. It’s when you get to the mobile platforms that measurement gets tricky. And that’s where the work needs to happen.

Any thoughts? Pop a comment below.

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