"Influencer marketing is fast becoming brands' go-to option," says Marketing Week, before pointing out "it often fails to offer directly attributable ROI."
But that's no problem for some. Can't measure sales? Just say it was a branding exercise all along.
"It would be a mistake for any business to commoditize [influencer campaigns]," says Time Inc's Lillian Betty. "It's more than just shifting product. It's about brand identity."
Except Betty was talking about a campaign for retailer Matalan, a client surely interested mostly in shifting product. While the retailer saw an overall sales jump during their influencer program, Time didn't measure well enough to attribute sales to this campaign.
No problem: Time points instead to a list of metrics like "brand identity," "resonance," and "content quality" -- all without mentioning measurement or data.
Branding is a real, and really important, marketing goal: People don't often buy products they've never heard of. That's one reason my surveys typically find branding is marketers' top social goal.
But brand marketing pursues a real objective (changing what people think) and marketers measure it with a real methodology (surveys). We can't keep using it as an unmeasured cop-out when we fail to effectively measure other goals.
When performance marketers fail to measure effectively and shout "branding!" as misdirection, they devalue the good work brand marketers do and make it harder for marketing leaders to commit to this vital practice.
Stop using "branding" as an excuse for bad measurement. Instead, define appropriate metrics and a good measurement strategy before you launch your campaign.