News UK-backed influencer agency, The Fifth, broadens senior leadership and targets international growth


Worldwide, the influencer marketing industry represented 9.7% of social media advertising spend in 2021 and 2.3% of total advertising. More important than last year’s percentages is the speed of the industry’s growth. Just two years before in 2019 Influencer marketing’s contribution to total advertising spend was 1.3%. In that year influencer marketing was only 7.7% of social media advertising. 

The global influencer marketing market size has more than doubled since 2019. In 2021, the market was valued at a record $13.8 billion. Ours is an industry growing at speed enjoying a growth rate of 35.3%.

To capitalise on this explosive growth creative influencer marketing business The Fifth is restructuring its senior leadership team as it receives fresh backing from parent company News UK for domestic and international expansion. 

The Fifth’s success has largely followed the industry’s trajectory as influencer marketing shifts from the hinterland to become an established part of the marketing mix.  The firm launched in March 2019 as a full-service influencer marketing agency and opened the Fifth Talent a year later. Today the agency works with brands including Disney, YouTube and Square.

To manage this growth, The Fifth is restructuring its management team with a series of key internal promotions and an ambitious runway to double the size of the agency within the next six months.

Oliver Lewis will now lead the business across all markets. His role shifts from MD to CEO and will focus on expansion into the US as well as the evolution of revenue streams within the booming creator economy. 

Jess Markwood becomes COO charged with delivering the company’s strategic vision and three-year growth plan, whilst helping shape a successful, diverse and rewarding culture for the agency. Ms Markwood was formerly the firm’s director of operations and marketing. 

Sam Coleman, currently Commercial Director, will become The Fifth’s Managing Director EMEA. Sam will lead the Fifth Agency in the UK and client services growth across the EMEA region.

All three will be supported by an expanded SLT including Katie Wallwork who continues to lead the award-winning Fifth Talent business and Creative Director Candice Green. 

Extending into the United States is a key component of The Fifth’s expansion strategy. This makes sense, $0.40 of every $1 spent worldwide on advertising is spent persuading the US consumer. In 2021, influencer marketing spending in the United States reached an all-time high of 3.7 billion U.S. dollars.  This year close to 75% US marketers will tap influencers for campaigns, up about 5% from 2021.

Olly Lewis acknowledges that “with fresh backing from News UK [the agency is] in a position to turbocharge our expansion both domestically and internationally”.

The newly promoted CEO says the agency’s “mission to both professionalise and lead this space into the creative realm where we feel it belongs has positioned us well with major brands who are now investing significantly. They want a trusted, transparent and forward-thinking agency partner to support their influencer strategy and that’s what The Fifth delivers.”

Jess Markwood, the firm’s new COO commented The Fifth's values-based offering: “Three years ago, Olly and I discussed our vision for the agency we wanted to create; an agency that recognised talent both on and off camera; one that celebrated difference; led with creativity and fostered a supportive culture. I’m delighted to take on the role of COO where I will continue to guide these values as the business grows. This milestone marks a moment of reflection for how far we’ve come before the next chapter begins. 

The Fifth is a founding member of the Influencer Marketing Trade Body (IMTB) - a professional membership organisation dedicated to building a robust, sustainable future for the influencer marketing industry. I head up the IMTB.

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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