February Trends Report

As we navigate the new year, Proof would like to keep you updated on some of the latest trends in the marketing and communications industry. This month, we look at the changing concept of influencer marketing, the slow shift away from Facebook advertising and the increasing need for live event marketing.

Transparency in Influencer Marketing

Hand holding iPhone.

The year 2020 is all about transparency and connection. As Gen Z develops more buying power, consumers are forming an increasing desire to develop authentic relationships with brands. Many brands use influencers to develop that connection, and that trend is only expected to increase. Business Insider recently reported that the influencer marketing industry will be worth around $15 million by 2022. 

Influencers humanize a brand; they attach a real face to the message that the audience can connect with and internalize. And as these relationships grow, the payment models surrounding them are expected to transform. As this article by Chief Marketer highlights, most influencers are paid on a cost-per-asset basis, meaning they are paid based on follower account and relevancy. However, with younger audiences valuing transparency, more influencers are developing partnerships with brands based on a pay-for-performance model. Now, more influencers are paid depending on the actual sales or traffic they generate.

Person holding iPhone and taking a picture of their meal.

And brands aren’t just focusing on influencers with large followings. Micro-influencers and nano-influencers (influencers with less than 1,000 followers) are actually more likely to attract an audience because of their relatability. Influencers with smaller audiences reach a more specific target audience and generate authentic engagement. A partnership with a nano-influencer creates more brand transparency because the influencer is a trustworthy figure who the audience perceives as knowledgeable on the subject. Most importantly, it is a cost-effective way to understand your audience, which will be valuable for future campaigns.

Rising or Sinking Facebook Ad Costs?

Image of laptop computer on a table top.

Facebook is a huge platform for brands due to its reach; everyone expects a brand to advertise through Facebook. However, with cost per thousand impressions (CPMs) increasing each year, marketing experts expect to see direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands shift away from Facebook advertising. A recent survey conducted by the marketing platform LiveIntent found that 85 percent of markets are worried about the rising costs, with almost half claiming they would have to stop using Facebook if ad costs continue to increase.

LiveIntent’s SVP of Global Marketing Kerel Cooper also states that political advertising is expected to shift away from the social platform. Ironically, this prediction comes at the same time Facebook announced it has chosen not to limit or block targeting of political ads, unlike other platforms such as Google and Twitter. This does not mean Facebook advertising will become obsolete, however. In fact, the rising costs pushing away certain content may just mean advertising on the platform will become cheaper for other brands. 

A fluctuation in cost is not the only change. Facebook advertising is also becoming more transparent. Expanded features in the Ad Library will allow users to choose how advertisers reach them with a custom audience from a list, enhance ad search and filtering and give users the control to see fewer political ads. The new controls are expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2020.

The Importance of the Live Event

People filming concert with iPhones.

There is no better way to form a connection than through face-to-face communication. People, especially younger audiences, want an experience, something they can latch on to both physically and in memory. Rather than just advertising through social platforms, brands are branching out to live events, even more so in 2020. According to a recent survey conducted by Agency EA, a brand experience agency, 87 percent of brand-side marketers invest in experiential marketing and events to connect to their audience, which is a 30 percent increase from survey results in 2018. 

Live events allow your target audience to immerse themselves in your message. Take L.L. Bean, for example. After learning that 95 percent of their target audience (outdoor enthusiasts) spend their time indoors due to traditional desk jobs, the brand created outdoor working spaces for customers, complete with Wi-Fi and comfortable couches. Not only did this event allow the company’s actual audience to participate in a memory associated with more than just clothing, but it also reflected the brand’s very essence in the process. 

While your events do not have to be extravagant, they should be targeted and purposeful. Here at Proof we host quarterly events that convene leading communicators in the DC area to ‘ask better questions’ and explore poignant topics for our industry, such as the most effective approaches to reach more diverse audiences or how to develop the perfect giving campaign. These events allow professionals to network while delivering our message as an agency with a natural curiosity.  (Check here for more information on DC Communicators and join us for the next one in March)

That’s it on trends! Keep these in mind when crafting campaigns and engaging with your audience – you may see a notable difference in engagement! Be sure to check-in with us again next month for more industry insights!

Megan Cahalan

Megan Cahalan

While at Proof, Megan is excited to expand her knowledge of public relations by working with clients in sectors she has never worked in before. Her passion for writing is what drives her love for communications and representing clients who do good for their community.

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