Influencer marketing has become one of the hottest trends over the past few years. Nowadays, there’s a lot of discussion on whether it has surpassed paid advertising channels like Google and Facebook ads. While the past decade or so saw Facebook ads as the definitive choice for brands who wanted to advertise online, the tide seems to be slowly shifting in favour of influencer marketing as we close out this decade.
So, does influencer marketing trump paid advertising in 2020? To find a suitable and logical solution to the entire ‘influencer marketing vs paid ads’ conundrum, let’s have a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both to see how they compare against each other.
Advantages of influencer marketing
Cost-effective content creation:In terms of marketing costs involved, influencer marketing gives businesses a cost-effective way of creating customized, brand-integrated content. The very essence of influencer marketing lies in the fact that businesses can partner with social media influencers and thus don’t have to create their own content.
Extended reach:While paid advertising is generally targeted at one particular social media platform and its audience base, influencer marketing can help brands gain audiences on different social media platforms. Most influencers are active on multiple platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and the like. So, influencer marketing enables brands to run cross-platform promotions to reach a wider audience.
Targeted segmentation:One of the unique benefits of influencer marketing is that it allows brands to segment their audience base as per choice. It gives them the opportunity to reach niche audiences and influence them with the personal touch of the respective influencer they’ve partnered with. When an influencer promotes a brand, it mostly has a direct impact on the target audience as they have willingly decided to follow the influencer.
Disadvantages of influencer marketing
Management of influencers:When a business partners with an influencer for marketing purposes, there is a relationship that forms between the two. All businesses need to nurture this relationship if they seek optimal results. The professional bond between a marketer and an influencer only strengthens if the personal bond between them grows stronger. As such, businesses need to manage influencers on a professional as well as personal level. Doing so can be especially difficult for big brands that work with multiple influencers simultaneously.
Measurement metrics:Influencer marketing is still a relatively new and nascent industry where results can be measured based on a wide variety of factors. Since there isn’t a clear indicator of an influencer marketing campaign’s success as yet, marketers still need to determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and optimize a campaign’s success, engagement and conversion metrics.
At first glance, it would seem that the significant advantages of influencer marketing far outweigh its minor disadvantages.
Now, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of paid ads.
Advantages of Paid Ads
Better content formats:The paid ads running on platforms like Google and Facebook provide many content styles that a business can choose from. Brands can create text, image, video or carousel ads with minimal effort. These ads can also include clear call-to-action (CTA) buttons that can directly lead to a conversion or sale. Businesses retain more control over the kind and quality of content created.
Classified segmentation:While paid ads can’t quite provide the personalized touch that influencer marketing does, they do offer businesses the ability to find and target audiences based on various metrics such as demographics, likes and interests. Facebook ads also offer tools that can help measure the performance of these metrics.
Flexibility and scalability:A major advantage of paid ad campaigns is that they allow marketers to reallocate funds quickly and scale their resources as per the need of the day. This kind of flexibility is lacking from influencer marketing, where it takes a lot of time and concentrated efforts to scale and allocate funds between campaigns.
Disadvantages of Paid Ads
Intrude upon user experience:With influencer marketing campaigns, users have followed an influencer out of their free-will. As such, they are more welcoming of promotions by a brand and don’t find them obtrusive. On the other hand, all paid ads are clearly labelled as such and can pop-up at any time to disrupt the user experience. Consequently, paid ads are generally frowned upon by netizens, and the use of ad-blockers has steadily been on the rise.
Inorganic, limited audience base:Facebook ads allow brands to target audiences only based on certain pre-set criteria such as demographics and user activity. Owing to this limitation, the audience base that ultimately ends up coming across a paid ad might be too broad or narrow. In some cases, users might not even remotely relate to a certain ad that they come across. Cross-platform promotions also require a lot of effort.
So, now that we know about the benefits and pitfalls of each, which one makes the better option for businesses and consumers in 2020?
Verdict: Influencer marketing is the better choice by miles
With the advent of social media as a primary communication tool, people can now easily know what their friends, peers, celebrities and key influencers are saying about a product or a service. Almost everyone trusts these opinions more that they can trust any piece of advertising.
Influencers know their audiences well and are best suited to create the type of content that will resonate and sell. With their own reputations at stake, influencers are highly motivated to create great sponsored content that engages their audiences. There is rarely any other form of advertising that can provide such a motivated, personalized and nuanced experience for brands as well as consumers – certainly not paid ads. So, in the ‘influencer marketing vs paid ads’ debate, it would be safe to say that influencer marketing is slowly but steadily edging paid ads out.
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