Episode 52 of the Influencer Marketing Lab podcast Steph Money, VP of Client Services at ThisThat explains why measurement and evaluation should be table stakes requirements within influencer marketing. 

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Show notes

This week I'm in conversation with Steph Money, VP of Client Services at ThisThat - a measurement and evaluation influencer marketing firm (well, sort of ... Steph will explain why this descriptor is only partially correct). 

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Being a rising star after ten years
  • How intelligent naivety can cut through group think
  • How measurement and evaluation can be put into harness for go-to-market strategies
  • Showing the context behind the numbers when measuring awareness, consideration or conversion
  • Performance can be amplified by effectiveness can't   
  • Why the answer is never more data - data is the evidence needed to justify a recommendation
  • Why effective measurement of influencer marketing will become fundamental
  • A call to standardise measurement within our sector


Useful links

Episode summary

Measuring influencer marketing success with data. (0:00)

Influencer marketing industry experience and fresh perspectives. (3:14)

Marketing campaign measurement and effectiveness. (9:01)

Influencer marketing platform's data quality and campaign analysis. (15:02)

Influencer marketing measurement and standardization. (19:24)

Interview transcript

NOTE: This transcript has been created using AI technology. It would benefit from subediting and almost definitely contains some errors.

Scott Guthrie  00:37

Welcome to the influencer marketing lab, Steph,

Steph Money  03:07

Thanks so much for having me, Scott, and congratulations for getting through all of those incredibly long winded titles.

Scott Guthrie  03:14

That's a victim of your success, I suppose. But listen, whilst I was digging around to doing doing the research, I also note that you're up for another award as a rising star of influencer marketing awards. Tell me a little bit about that. And also tell me before we kick into the main questions, tell me about the rising star. But also tell me about your new elevation to Vice President of Client Services. That's a new appointment. Tell me more about that. And tell me more about the Rising Star Award.

Steph Money  03:43

Sure. So in terms of the VP appointment at this, that it really came about in the sense that I was doing the delivery for the clients. And when you're at a startup, you really are looking, the founders do the ground work, and then they hire somebody to take on another role. And then they take on a different role. And so the VP role is, after a year of working with kind of a very small, intimate team, in terms of doing delivery, we've now almost tripled the team in size. And for me, it's really around moving to that next level of account management and strategic delivery in terms of entire accounts themselves, but also then on top of that, really kind of managing the team as a whole instead of doing the kind of on the ground delivery. So it's a really exciting jump and really just keeps me very close in terms of the founders, Max and Dom in terms of strategic direction of the company, especially when it comes to staying agile and working with our partners

Scott Guthrie  04:38

on rising star forgive me but we've already touched on the a bio that you're 10 years into your career. Why have you been nominated for rising star? Why is that important? Do you think?

Steph Money  04:47

So? I was really shocked. First of all that I was on the nomination list. You know, I'm very excited to be on a nomination list with all females as well, which I find incredibly empowering to see. But but for me what's really important Is that rising star whenever I hear of a rising star category, it really speaks to, you know, really young, ambitious people that are starting out in their careers, and are really making making a massive impact right away as they start. And for me, this was a really interesting nomination mainly because I've only been working in influencer for a year, you know, I have a wealth of experience from advertising and research as you as you've said, but it's it wasn't really an influencer. And I've been bringing all of that experience into influencer, to really help shape and elevate the industry from the measurement and evaluation point of view. So for me, that was a really exciting nomination and being recognised that it's not just about the young guns of this world, but also people that are making a difference and actually shifting industries and bringing that wealth of experience into this kind of wild west influencer marketing world.

Scott Guthrie  05:53

Well, Steph. Let me stop you there. You're still a young gun. You mentioned that you're helping to shape the industry, how important and you said you've only been 12 months within influencer marketing. So is that naive intelligence? Is you asking questions that people haven't asked before? Or are you able to help shape the industry? Because you can say, well, this is how we've done it in other industries to tell me what the benefits are of you being a recent entry into the sector? Yeah, absolutely.

Steph Money  06:23

From my point of view, bringing in a fresh perspective is always a great thing. You know, in even within my internal team, I haven't really brought people in from influencer, because I really do want that fresh perspective. And I think from my point of view, bringing in and coming from cantar, and bringing in a perspective and experience from how our company likes to call them the boffins, we do love the cantos of this world, but we're very traditional and very conservative, but it is that grounding and research because these are the original research guys, essentially. And so having that grounding, really helps to understand what is working, what's not working, why is our things being done differently. Where are some of those foundations, you know, haven't been put in place yet. And so it's a learning curve on one sense, but at the other sense, it actually brings in a lot of those more traditional views on, you know, things that have worked time and time again. But it puts that new spin on influencer, where if you if you grow up in a specific industry, what you wind up doing is, is that you almost have your blinders on. And so what this allows me to do is to come at it from a different viewpoint, and really start to challenge and question why things are done as they are. And so that's really what I think has been kind of the key to my success over the over the past 12 months, is basically questioning why are things being done in the way that they are? And I'm sure that'll be a theme later on. As we go through the podcast. I'm very big on asking why. And if we don't have an answer, let's try it.

Scott Guthrie  07:50

Yeah, well, I think especially hugely important because because we always think of influencer marketing being a young industry. These are these obviously still a young industry, but it's 10 years plus and what along the way, there's a phrase, I can't remember who kind of but that naive intelligence where you can ask those, those probing questions. Why do we do it that way? Why do you do it this way? And you can avoid or cut right through the groupthink that we might have already created for the industry. Listen, we had co founder of this that Max Osborne on the influence of marketing lab back in February 2021, Episode 19, if anyone wants to look that up, and he told us then what this that was, I've called you at the heart of this that, that you are a measurement and evaluation shop aimed at the Creator marketing sector. Have I grasped the essence of what you do today? Well, if I've got it wrong, put me right.

Steph Money  08:46

I'm gonna say sort of. And the reason why I say sort of is that if you asked me that question, 12 months ago, same way, you asked max this in 2021, I absolutely would have agreed, but a year in startups is measured the same amount of time as dog years. So the business has massively changed. And this really starts off with the fact that this that's purpose is all around making marketing more enjoyable for not just marketers, but for consumers as well. So while fundamentally, we measure campaigns by running Brand Lift studies, our clients utilise this that as a way to shape their go to market strategy, which is where that shift is really happening in terms of the this that business, and we're really doing that by analysing the campaign's effectiveness. And at the heart of it proving the power of influencer and its role within the greater marketing mix.

Scott Guthrie  09:35

I love it. That's great. And thank you very much for putting me wrong and glad I asked the question at the beginning, rather than two thirds of the way through How are most marketers measuring and evaluating campaign activations at the moment?

Steph Money  09:47

So I'm going to do a sort of response on this one as well. It really depends on the type of campaign. Most campaigns that marketers are looking at fall into these three different buckets, awareness, consideration or conversion, and that's what they're looking to measure and evaluate In terms of of any type of different campaigns, influencer TV doesn't matter. But let's let's use influencer for the sake and to do so they're really using traditional benchmarks like impressions, reach engagements, you know, and grow as like CPMs. The thing of it is, those are based on metrics that came with the creation of social media. And so while yes, we do really need to have these figures to understand performance, the question that I always ask is, what do these actually mean, especially to a brand manager, 2 million impressions, great, a reach of 750,000, great, you have numbers, but they don't give you context for what the campaign impact is. So that's really one of the things that in terms of how marketers are missing that piece of the puzzle. On the flip side, those are kind of your top and middle kind of numbers. But when you start to look at the bottom funnel, you have these conversion campaigns, which are looking at things like website visits track sales affiliates. But again, it's a similar issue, where what's missing is the understanding of why those metrics are or aren't successful. And without that context, both sets of metrics are just numbers that are better or worse than other numbers.

Scott Guthrie  11:07

Okay, I think I'm beginning to understand that one that you're on top of the game, you got to push back on, given the sort of responses which I live. And also that I think what we're doing is we're separating that the sort of, I think you've already said it, the what and the why. So let's dig in a little bit more into that stiffs the Watts metrics, just scroll back a little bit. And I know you said that there is sort of awareness and consideration and driving sales or driving action, let's put them into two buckets, both performance metrics, those are the ones give me another example of what those what metrics might be.

Steph Money  11:41

Can you clarify the question a little bit,

Scott Guthrie  11:43

I'm really just trying to get you to reiterate what you said in a different way. But we're talking about performance metrics, I'm guessing you're talking about things like impressions and likes and comments and clicks, these are this kind of vanity metrics, or is that what you're getting at? Yeah, exactly.

Steph Money  11:57

You have those vanity metrics, which are needed on every single campaign. But at the same time, the numbers, what you normally tend to see when when you're delivering any type of campaign results to, to a marketer is you see your numbers, your impressions, your engagements, your CPM, and you see a benchmark underneath. So did the campaign perform better or worse than the benchmark, and that could be a previous campaign, that could be an overall platform benchmark, doesn't matter. But it's in relation to these other figures. And what I'm trying to say is that it's all well and good having these figures, but the question then becomes, what do they mean? So even when you look at performance metrics, in comparison, you have tracked sales, you don't know which of your creators are which of the assets you see, which is doing better or worse. But what you don't see is why. And I think one of the big things here that we'd like to talk about it this that is, performance can be amplified, but effectiveness can't. And so these numbers allow for you to amplify performance. It worked. Well, let's do it again. But the effectiveness of the campaign, you have to understand the why to be able to understand effectiveness and be able to amplify effectiveness.

Scott Guthrie  13:10

What do you offer at this that you say you you make it more fun? You say you want to provide the how, and the why not just the what? So tell me about how you set about doing that then?

Steph Money  13:21

So I think with this, that it's really it's not actually just the why behind the what it's really around kind of taking that one step forward, and actually looking at what's next. And this is where I talk about that go to market strategy, you know, in that kind of earlier question. It's really about ensuring that our clients know which lever do they need to pull in terms of guaranteeing lift for a certain KPI that's going to have the biggest ROI on the campaign with that the way that we look at if you think about these in kind of two separate areas, you have your brand funnel, and you have your KPIs of the brand funnel. So how do you bring consumers through from awareness all the way through down to conversion? The only way to shift funnel behaviour is through your campaign levers. And the three levers you have are the creative, your targeting and your distribution. So what we're trying to help clients understand is what are the KPIs that are going to make the biggest difference in terms of your campaign ROI, but then on top of this, which are the levers that you can actually pull to change those KPIs? So for instance, if you're looking at, you know, creative, you want to understand how to layer messaging, and which is the right messaging that's going to actually speak to create or communities. Or if you're talking about distribution, you want to know what the role of each creator is within the funnel. What is the role on the platforms? Is it paid versus organic, that's having a bigger impact? And how do you then change that? So really, what we're doing is is that we're giving them the why but by doing so, we're able to recommend the what next to campaign strategist and we're taking away the guesswork for them. And by eliminating that gets work we're able to provide them with confidence. for what they should be doing for future campaign optimization,

Scott Guthrie  15:02

That’s really clever. You've articulated it far, far better than I ever could say. So thank you for helping me out on that. Many successful campaigns will include several creators spread across different platforms, perhaps some of the content might have been paid. And we've already touched on that step about the difference between paid and amplified and organic. How can this work with so many various touch points.

Steph Money  18:06

So at the heart of it is what we create is what call is called an exposed group. Now, this is not something anything new, this has always been in Brand Lift, because when you're talking about brand lift, you're talking about the difference between those who have been exposed to a campaign versus those who haven't. And that's essentially the lift. So in traditional brand lift, the exposed group would be a single creative asset or group of assets that a brand or an agency want to test to look at directional impact on their target. So how well is their creative message or their creative itself appealing to their target audience. But at this, that, we're able to look at these touch points, because we're breaking down the some of the parts of the total expose group. And the way that we're doing that is through distribution. And because we don't use force exposure, we use verified exposure. So those that have seen the campaign in situ, while they're scrolling on TikTok, or on Instagram, we're able to then retarget those exact audiences. So in terms of our different exposed groups that I talked about, instead of looking at a single asset, you're looking at, like we talked about paid at organic, and you're able to kind of roll them up and roll them down in different ways. In order to analyse the impact of a campaigns distribution,

Scott Guthrie  19:15

it seems like a lot, which kind of leads me on to the next question, that marketers seem to be overwhelmed with data. I think, you know, three, four or five years ago, there was a paucity of data now that the pendulum is swinging the other way and marketers I think, sometimes overwhelmed with the amount of data that they have, is your answer really, to give them more data?

Steph Money  19:40

So definitely not more data. Data is never the answer. I always talk about the fact that data is useless if there is no meaning to it, and it's even more so an issue with an agency or brand that doesn't know what to do with it. Now, for me, this is actually a really kind of a personal thing because my background isn't wasn't even in research originally. You know, I went to university for journalism. And I used to work with bands, and then I worked with street artists in London. So, you know, I walked into a temp agency. And they placed me at Kantar. And that's how I got into market research in my early 20s. And so for me, I had to learn how to use data from scratch and find meaning in it. And so that's why I always talk about one of my superpowers is about how to talk about data in plain language. So this has always been one of my crusade, especially if you don't have insight managers, or people that are, you know, quite good with data at companies. And it's something that, you know, we're finding more and more with an influencer agencies, but at the same time, they're not there yet the the kind of education barrier is still quite high when it comes to insight. And so in terms of giving more data, what I always talk to my team, when we're doing deliveries, I always ask them, you know, what's the so what, when you're telling me an insight, or you're showing me a chart? Well, actually, what I really say is, why do I give a shit? To be honest, um, my team are really sick of hearing that when we discuss delivery, but the reason why I keep asking this is that we don't know how we would action it. How is the client going to action? And how are they going to utilise this. And in terms of the fact that, you know, multiple teams and stakeholders are behind creating campaigns, you have your paid media, you have your strategists, you have your creatives, you have your campaign managers, your talent managers, and each have that that different baseline knowledge of using numbers and figures. It's not about giving them more data, it's the data is just the evidence to justify a recommendation. And so that's really one of the key things. For me, it's about how do you take the data and make it into something that just makes sense of why you should do something else. So it's not about more data. It's not about the figures, the numbers, just the justification.

Scott Guthrie  21:44

Just a few weeks ago, Steph, the size of the market, forecasts for influencer marketing was revised upwards to top $21 billion this year 2023. This is a significant uptick on the $17.4 billion valuation statistic forecast last August. And it's $15 billion a forecast for the year back in March. So it's gone from 15 to 17. Now to 21 billion for the same year in a matter of months. How important will measurement become within the next 1224 36 months? Do you think

Steph Money  22:24

measurement is important right now? I think it's incredibly important, but it's going to become integral over the next three years. I don't think there's been a client in my 12 months being at this that that has not needed a measurement solution in terms of an RFP. Influencer was the toasts of can really showcasing that influencers finally made it to the mainstream stage. And brands can't ignore its power in the role in the marketing mix. You know, that's evident just from the numbers that you've kind of just spouted. But the problem is what we're seeing here is that there's a huge consolidation in the industry as influencer marketing scales from these early adopters to mass market is quite clear in terms of why measurement is going to be so key to the acquisition of agencies like like go to WPP. You're also starting to see brands choosing agency of record over the kind of scattered state of affairs of what influencer is right now in terms of the smaller agencies. So really, what you're you're kind of seeing here is that influencer is going to be integrated from the start within brand marketing strategies right from the get go, they're going to be integrated. And so from that point of view, when you start to see them integrated from the start, you're then including influencer in the wider marketing mix model in comparison to other immediate platforms like TV billboard digital ads. The next chapter on this journey around measurement is really around being able to elevate and quantify influencer marketing and the power of influencer marketing so that it can steal more marketing dollars from traditional marketing channels. And 360 measurement is the only way to justify that. Now, one of the examples that I always give is, you know, when we talk about the amount of money that's being spent in advertising, you know, you look at your Unilever's, your PNGs, your coax your Nikes they're not going to turn around and shift the majority of their ad spend from billboard and TV to influencer without a true measurement pipeline for measuring the success of their campaigns. This is something that needs to happen across the board. Since measurement and influencer marketing isn't standardised, and what we've found is that it's not even standardised across the social media platforms themselves for the most part.

Scott Guthrie  24:24

So we're gonna come on to standardisation in a second, but so kind of To recap, a lot of there's a lot of insight that their steps are trying to unpick a little bit of what you said, you're saying it's an increasingly consolidated market. We're now starting to see agencies become agencies of record with some of the big advertisers, influencers moving what has moved in the last 18 months, two years from the hinterland, the peripheries to the beating heart of creative and as such we're getting bigger budgets, but with bigger budgets and integrated campaigns, we need to see definite return on that. Spin definite evaluation definite measurement is that, in essence, what you're saying and what you're calling for.

Steph Money  25:05

Exactly. I mean, when you think about it, you know, influencer is 10 years old. But when you're comparing that against television that is that has been around way longer than that I'm gonna days, but I don't sound stupid. But when you're looking at that, and comparing it to the amount of data that you have on that, especially from like geographical regions and things like that, you're nowhere near in the ballpark. I was reading earlier today, around TV, and you can see even you know, in the UK, a Hollyoaks ad, still commands $20,000 or 20,000 pounds. And so when you're thinking about that, you know, one Hollyoaks ad over an hour TV show versus you know, an influencer marketing campaign for one influencer or one asset that they're not even comparable really yet.

Scott Guthrie  25:47

Interesting. So we will you are calling for greater standardisation within the sector. Obviously, you've got skin in the game, but why do you think greater standardisation will be a benefit to the industry and to advertisers as a whole?

Steph Money  26:05

Yeah, absolutely. And and it goes back to what you said Scott is that influencer is going to grow exponentially regardless, you know, we know that it's growing at 30% year on year, but the faster we have a standardised measurement that brand marketers can really get on board with and aligned to, especially something that is comparative to more of this outdating marketing mix measurement solutions that that I kind of alluded to, then the faster the industry will grow and become a mainstay channel. And not just for the innovator brands, but for all brands. So kind of jumping back on that TV example, TV viewership, as we see every year continues to decline as a whole. But in 2022, in the US, 66 billion was spent on TV ads in the US, which was actually up from 2021. Surprisingly, in comparison to influencer marketing, the US took in just over 4 billion, and that was up 1 billion from 2021. There's so much money on the table that hasn't been grabbed because of measurement. It's just a huge amount of marketing dollars that can be shifted away, if marketers can trust the measurement against against these long standing media platforms that made me feel more safe to them. And so one of the the kind of quotes that I kept seeing with a lot of the con covers that I really liked is this idea of a rising tide lifts all boats. And it's a really great saying because it really showcases not just from this that point of view, but the industry as a whole we need to work together to elevate the industry in terms of measurement. And that's really why this that feels that we can lead the charge as we're steeped in influencer. We're born social made for influencer. And we're creating solutions to address these especially when comparative to these other media platforms and to really showcase the power and the role that influencer plays within the marketing mix model, but also how it plays conjointly. So not just influencer itself. How does the effectiveness of your strategy change if you do influencer and social ads or influencer and billboard, so that's really why I'm calling for that standardisation here.

Scott Guthrie  27:57

Gary Vee. Last year, Ken was saying a lot of what you've just said about the TV ad spend and viewership going down, down, down, down, but still the ad spend is up that path. And he was kind of laughed off because it but I think there's there's a lot in what he was, he was trying to push an FTE. So that doesn't necessarily help his argument. But there's a lot less than this that is hugely innovative. I've seen it written in a couple of places that you're you're setting the gold standard in this book, let's look at competitor landscape a little bit, how are the old guard going to catch up with you? Or how are you going to keep ahead of competitors in the in the space,

Steph Money  28:37

I think actually goes back to what we said is that the the way that we work is we don't call the brands and agencies we work with we don't call them clients, we call them partners. Because that's truly how we act with them in that the industry changes so quickly, you know, sometimes even from week to week in terms of TikTok rules or what Instagram is changing, that, you know, we create solutions, and we adapt very quickly with our partners in order to make sure that we're able to measure what they need for their campaigns and give them the information that they need to make those decisions. And, you know, I think when you comparing that to kind of the competitors of old, you know, the Nielsen's the cantar is of this world. They're using Brand Lift, we didn't create brand lift, but what we are doing is we've created brand lift for influencers specifically because we understand influencer as a whole and they don't they you know brand lift was originally created for for ad testing for TV. And so when you think about it like that they're repurposing a methodology and then trying to use it and sell it for influenza where our methodology was based in the industry to start with, and we're continuing to create solutions based on that when the industry changes, that we're able to meet expectations and and hopefully surpass them.

Scott Guthrie  29:49

We're rolling out of time now. It's definitely where can listeners turn to for more information about you and more information about this that?

Steph Money  29:57

Yeah, sure. So we have just launched Reba launched our new website, which we're very excited about. So you can always check us out on there. But LinkedIn is normally the go to place for us to follow our adventures, or webinars. And just a peek behind the curtain of what's happening at this, that and what it's like working at this skyrocketing startup, essentially.

Scott Guthrie  30:16

Thank you very much, Jeff. Well, I'll be sure to include some of those links in the show notes that accompany this podcast episode, just Google, the influencer marketing lab for further details. It's definitely Manny, Vice President of Client Services at this that thank you so much for your time and for your thoughts today.

Steph Money 30:34

Thanks so much, Scott. Appreciate it.

Scott Guthrie is a professional adviser within the influencer marketing industry. He is an event speaker, university guest lecturer, media commentator on influencer marketing and active blogger. He works with brands, agencies and platforms to achieve meaningful results from influencer marketing. That tells you something about him but it's not giving you a lot of detail, is it? So, read more here.

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