Insights

Ryan Detert: "A.I. can solve the influencer marketing problem"

By Nicolas Deskos | 26 May 2017

Ah, influencer marketing, that vague term that implies a person's importance, or connection to an important person. Influencers are anyone that can attract a substantial following—so if that person is interested in your product or service, they can "influence" their following to do the same. By providing targeted exposure to an already engaged follower base, influencers have now become the holy grail for brands in a world of ad blockers and skeptical consumers.

Influencer marketing grew out of the more quirky, obscure corners of the internet. Six years ago, Ryan Detert was a digital comedian, creating parody Twitter accounts. He unintentionally fell into the world of influencer marketing when he clocked his substantial amount of followers, "I had 30 million followers on Twitter and Instagram from my parody accounts of President Obama, Buddha, and Santa Claus. These accounts, sometimes overnight, attracted thousands of new followers."

"I had 30 million followers, but you couldn’t sell a parody Barack Obama Twitter account to brands."

But, back in the early days, Detert struggled to monetize his following, "I couldn’t make any money from these accounts. You couldn’t sell a parody Barack Obama Twitter account to brands."

Detert pursued the potential he saw in using accounts to market to consumers. He started verticalizing niche handles like @Travel @Automotive and @FashionandStyle, building up millions of followers, and selling his posts to brands. These were the early origins of influencer marketing; when money was slowly-but-surely becoming invested in influence potential. Fast-forward to today and there is a different story. Influencer marketing is a now a million dollar industry, predicted to be a $5-$10 billion dollar market in the next 5 years. It’s no longer difficult to persuade brands to invest in a pre-packaged audience, they are spending huge money on influencers such as teenage vloggers to endorse their product.

Influencers come with a steep price tag, but how can brands determine their ROI?

The problem with this is that no accountability and little transparency to ensure results. Influencers come with a steep price tag, but how can you determine their ROI? If you invest one million in a YouTube star, how can you be certain of their worth?

Detert saw the potential of artificial intelligence as the solution to this epidemic. "You need technology to be able control brand safety, validate the delivery of the media and target the right consumer base."

His company, Influential, is a data-first influencer marketing and artificial intelligence technology platform that democratically matches brands with influencers based on demographics, psychographics, and contextual relevance.

"You will look for things demographically, contextually and psychographically to target the best possible individuals to speak on your behalf.""

The platform uses IBM Watson personality insights to analyze language used on social media to determine which influencers exhibit the personality traits desired by a brand. Detert is optimistic about A.I.’s potential to solve the influencer marketing problem, "Human perception plus machine learning equals the best possible results. To find the best influencers you will look for things demographically, contextually and psychographically to target the best possible individuals to speak on your behalf."

Influencer marketing and artificial intelligence are two of the most over-hyped and over-used buzzwords in the world of marketing right now. With all the talk about chatbots, real-time personalization and automated data mining, in the marketing industry alone, A.I. is worshipped as the cure-all for its problems. But when it comes to influencer marketing A.I., might just be its solution, and its future.

For Detert, using A.I. for influencer marketing campaigns is a no-brainer.

"Why would you spend money on TV and radio when there's now a place where you can micro-target consumers and amplify reach at the same time?"

Nicolas Deskos
Editor
When he's not cycling around Amsterdam, Nicolas is curating OnBrand events and writing frank, no-nonsense articles on branding and marketing trends. Coming soon to an event near you.