Influencer Marketers and Their Meaningless Metrics Are the Measurement Menaces of the Month

Just as we in PR are starting to make progress by moving away from hyper-inflated metrics, similar meaningless numbers are proliferating elsewhere in the marketing universe. This is happening in particular in “influencer marketing.” (For some valid metrics and advice on the topic, see our issue on measuring influencer marketing.)

Somehow “influence,” that old-fashioned notion that humans who share common interests can change each others’ minds about a product or an issue, has jumped the shark. It’s now a game of chance in which brands compete for “influencers” and the winner is the one with the most followers. The playing field is Instagram and YouTube and various social media platforms that provide an unending stream of meaningless metrics.

Return of the AVE

In this environment even the dreaded concept of AVE or “Earned Media Value” is having a resurgence. In a recent post ranking Superbowl ads, one criteria for “winning” was Earned Media Value. According to influencer campaign analytics platform InfluencerDB, Pepsi generated $104,888 in EMV.

Wow, I wonder what they’ll do with all that money? Oh, right, they don’t actually ever see that revenue because it is a fictional calculation based on how much it cost to be in the place that the brand appeared. Given that Pepsi spent at $5+ million on air time for just one ad—which with production, talent, and multiple airings probably totaled out somewhere north of $20 million—I’m sure that $104K will come in handy. But, if I were the person reporting those results I might not want to point out that that non-existent EMV revenue represented just .05% of the overall budget.

Brands are now routinely bragging about the Earned Media Value of their influencer campaigns. Even worse they are confusing Earned Media Value with actual return, as witnessed by this witless quote by Werner Geyser, founder of the Influencer Marketing Hub, a firm that helps organizations do more influencer marketing:

“Recently we conducted a survey and we analyzed 2,000 campaigns from influencers. And what the research displayed was that there was an average earned media value of $5.20 per dollar spent.”

So the “return” is that they earned, via a paid influencer, some space on a social media platform. Not that they sold product, not that they generated more leads for less money, but that they bought $5.20 worth of real estate on the Internet for $1. Sounds like a deal a New York real estate developer might love. You have to wonder if that calculation will win approval from any self-respecting CFO.

Even more intriguing is the tool on Influencer Marketing Hub that told me that I could earn between $24 and $40 for one of my posts. Wow, I’d post a lot more if the universe just magically deposited money in my bank account every time I did. But I’m guessing it doesn’t really happen that way.

I checked out the “value” of one of our more popular posts, a photo of crocuses coming up outside my office door. Who knew it had an estimated earning power of $46, based on the number of followers and the engagement rate? Amazing! From now on I will dump all those relevant photos that I post for my audience, and instead exclusively use flower photos. Of course I’m not sure how I’m going to collect that $46 or from whom.

The point is that I never thought I’d be on the side of the guys in green eyeshades that routinely slash our budgets, but I’m hoping they come forward and start punching holes in some of these silly numbers. And to those influencer marketers that have created this demand for stupid metrics, we present you with out Measurement Menace of the Month award. Congrats! ∞

(Thanks to Prylarer on Pixabay for the photo.)

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