News UK launches The Fifth - an influencer marketing agency with storytelling and authentication at its core.
Today News UK launched The Fifth, an independent full-service influencer marketing agency. The new company will work with emerging social talent and established mainstream voices across media channels. It will offer talent identification and management, storytelling strategy, creative production, cross-media amplification and events, for brands and talent.
Born in a journalists’ world as part of News UK, The Fifth has storytelling and storytellers at its heart. Its very name alludes to an evolution of the Fourth Estate - the Press. It's a bold statement of intent.
The Fifth wants to redefine the term influencer, too. The agency plans to move the conversation away from the industry’s pre-occupation with follower numbers by aligning unique verified audience data with storytelling creativity, studio production and trend forecasting.
It is not the first time a publisher has set up shop as a creative agency to work across media on client briefs. Bloomberg Media runs a marketing and media consultancy. Vice Media operates VIRTUE, its channel-agnostic creative agency.
According to marketing and advertising industry news site, The Drum other mastheads including The Washington Post, New York Times and Refinery29 are also all seeking new revenue from delivering agency-like services.
What sets The Fifth apart is its focus on influencer marketing, specifically its concentration on storytelling and authenticated audience data.
As part of the agency’s mission to professionalise the space, The Fifth will work with talent to ensure brands have access to authenticated audience data, transparency of follower growth and the standardisation of reporting.
The Fifth will be powered by an exclusive partnership with CORQ – an independent intelligence platform which combines journalistic insight and analysis to offer brands a talent selection strategy that goes beyond technology and automation.
Australian start-up Q-83 provides The Fifth with Instagram authentication. The service ensures influencer marketers work only with influencers who are authentic and appropriate. Insights and metrics, including stories, on demand and in real time are viewed from a dashboard.
The Fifth is headed by Oliver Lewis a Murdoch veteran with 14 years at News UK and The Times. Speaking about his agency’s place in the influencer marketing industry Lewis explained: “brands require more support identifying the right talent, building longer-term partnerships, authenticating their background, proving meaningful ROI and delivering authentic and diverse stories”.
These words echo those of L'Oréal's chief digital officer, Lubomira Rochet, who told The Drum last summer that L'Oréal has stopped viewing influencer marketing as a "transactional" media buy, and instead sought to forge long-term relationships with a number of cherry-picked creators by using a data to identify the most relevant people to appeal to a particular brand's audience. "Then, by creating long-term relationships [with them] we grow together. Our influencers are starting to have more influence over our product development."
Distancing from influencer advertising
These core beliefs firmly distance The Fifth from influencer advertising - a subset of the influencer marketing category which is often conflated with influencer marketing as a whole when reported in the mainstream media.
Influencer advertising is transactional and short-lived. Work is orientated around tent-pole campaign contracts between influencer and brand.
Often driven by 'acquiring eyeballs' - brands become seduced by the influencer’s large following - and the theoretical reach that their branded messages are promised to benefit from.
Influencer advertising promotes one-hit-wonders rather than long-term relationships between brand and influencers.
Influencer advertising is where BANJO influencers can be found. BANJO influencers are those people with a large social media following - whether bought, built, active or dormant - who Bang Another iNfluencer Job Out without any care for or affinity with the sponsoring brand or their audience.
Running counter to influencer advertising influencer marketing is relationship focused and involves longer time horizons. It can be measured through intent and impact metrics rather than vanity metrics. Influencer marketers treat influencers as equals. There is a belief in a win:win business-growth relationship. They understand that this takes time and skill to nurture such relationships and that therefore considerable effort is required from both sides.
The traits of influencer marketing offer a viable future for the industry as consumers begin to tire of increasingly vapid branded content saturating their social media timelines.
Influencer marketing is often most effective when it is part of a wider integrated communications programme which feeds into satisfying corporate objectives. The agency sees the finding of the most appropriate influencer and being platform agnostic as key differentiators. “The Fifth helps brands elevate influencer marketing into multi-channel campaigns” explains Lewis, continuing, “We believe in a human-first approach to talent identification. We immerse ourselves in cultural trends and we build connections with the tribes defining them to help brands join the conversation at the right time and in the most genuine way.”