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Influencers, Digital Outdoor and the Great Internet Escape

by Tug Agency | 17.01.2018
Teen influencers such as PewDiePie and Logan Paul have had a torrid past 10 months as their misdeeds have landed them in the grown-up news. But despite bad press for influencer marketing, it’s no contradiction that the practice continues to boom. A recent US study found that 39% of marketer’s plan to increase their social marketing budgets in 2018, with a larger interest towards influencers.

Bad press equals more press

As PewDiePie and Logan Paul learned, big money and high profiles can translate to mainstream disgrace. But another indication of influencer marketing’s new mainstream significance can be found in an announcement made last year of a tie-up between outdoor giant Clear Channel and an automated influencer platform.

indaHash’s proposition, since it launched in 2016, has included a digital strategy that foresees the next steps in a popular trend:

  • Bring scale to the influencer marketplace
  • Building and selling social media campaigns using its 400,000-strong team of mid-tier influencers
  • Take full advantage of non-celebrity social media influencers that have followings of up to 500,000

But through its Clear Channel deal, it will now be booking campaigns into digital out-of-home (DOOH) slots. If that wasn’t modern enough, indaHash is also experimenting with paying its influencers in its own cryptocurrency.

From Instagram and YouTube to everywhere you go

Clearly, the broad significance of all this is that the distinctively online phenomenon of influencer engagement, perhaps too easily dismissed by those who don’t follow the exploits of social media stars, is breaking out of the internet and into the real world. Just as YouTube stars have become ticket-selling live attractions and I’m A Celebrity guests, so they are now becoming an above-the-line advertising asset.

The same power potentially drives influencer marketing in DOOH as in social media. While many of us may be immune to advertising and prone to ad-blocking, we are still interested in people, and creative, native influencer campaigns can cut through where more obviously branded work can’t.
But whereas online influencers depend on the large but ultimately finite audiences that follow them on a particular platform – albeit boosted by viral effects – DOOH offers mass-market reach.

The sky’s the limit for the influencer market

Think of real-time influencer campaigns tailored for bus shelters, billboards, pubs, tube stations, sporting events, and festivals. The possibilities are there for large-scale, online and real-world takeovers around new music releases, fashion, footwear and other youth-focused categories, using content created by influencers in real time and driving equally real-time interaction. For brands with an experiential appetite, eye-grabbing synchronised DOOH influencer campaigns, done right, perhaps even on a global scale, offer PR opportunities most online activity could only dream of achieving.

There are pitfalls. Real-time content creation in public places raises a safety issue, so compliance work and short safety lags are likely to be essential. Baring the contemporary issues with some high-profile names in mind, influencer relations between agencies, brands and influencers has never been more important.

But once again, the lines are blurring healthily between the channels, demolishing the barriers between online and offline, above and below the line. Influencer marketing is growing up – even if the same can’t always be said for the influencers.