Digiday+ Research: Brands, agencies say influencer marketing is still a worthwhile investment

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The social media landscape continues to be a roller coaster ride for marketers. Marketers are still spending on Facebook and Instagram, despite wavering confidence in the platforms. Brands and agencies don’t know what to make of TikTok these days, and Twitter continues to see ups and downs.

But brands and agencies still see the influencers who dominate all these platforms as a worthwhile channel for marketing spend. That’s according to a Digiday+ Research survey of 138 brand and agency professionals.

Digiday’s survey found that, overall, both agency clients and brands are investing more in influencer marketing than they were a year ago. In Q1 2022, 69% of agency pros said their clients spent at least a very small portion of their marketing budgets on influencers. That number jumped to 79% in Q3 2022 and held steady at 76% in Q1 2023.

Brands saw a similar jump in the last year. In Q1 2022, 62% of brand pros told Digiday they spent at least a very small portion of their marketing budgets on influencers. That percentage grew to 72% in Q3 2022 and held strong at 73% in Q1 2023.

On the agency side, those who said their clients spend a small portion of their marketing budgets on influencers has been steadily (but slowly) decreasing. In Q1 2022, 27% of agency pros said their clients spent a small amount on influencer marketing, which fell very slightly to 26% in Q3 2022 and then again to 24% in Q1 2023.

Meanwhile, the percentage of agency pros who said their clients spend a moderate amount on influencer marketing has been steadily increasing over the last year (although, again, at a very slow rate). Fifteen percent of agency pros told Digiday in Q1 2022 that their clients spend a moderate portion of their marketing budgets on influencers, which increased slightly to 16% in Q3 2022 and 18% in Q1 2023.

And agency pros whose clients spend a very large portion of their marketing budgets on influencers are a very small slice of the pie, but that percentage has also steadily increased since Q1 of last year. Two percent said their clients spent a very large amount on influencer marketing in Q1 2022, then 3% said so in Q3 2022 and 4% said so in Q1 2023.

On the brand side, investment in influencer marketing is prevalent, but appears it will remain small. The percentage of brand pros who told Digiday they spend a small portion of their marketing budgets on influencers saw a big jump six months ago — from 13% in Q1 2022 to 28% in Q3 2022 — that was maintained through Q1 2023 when 27% of brand pros said they spend a small amount on influencers. Additionally, these brands who spend a small portion of their marketing budgets on influencers account for the largest percentage among brands who spend on influencer marketing at all.

It’s also noteworthy that zero brand respondents told Digiday that they spend a very large portion of their marketing budgets on influencers. Four percent said they spend a very large amount six months ago, and 3% said so a year ago.

Digiday’s survey found that agency clients’ and brands’ spending on influencer marketing is backed up by the confidence these groups have in influencers’ ability to drive marketing success. Seventy-nine percent of agency pros said they are at least slightly confident that influencers drive marketing success for their clients (a percentage that has remained fairly steady over the last year), and the same percentage of brand pros said they are also at least slightly confident in influencers’ ability to drive marketing success (which has also remained steady for this group).

Agency confidence in influencers has actually seen very little change since the beginning of last year. As of Q1 2023, agency pros who said they’re somewhat confident in influencer marketing accounted for the largest percentage at 29%, which does mark a change from Q1 and Q3 2022, when the largest percentages of brand pros (31% and 28%, respectively) said they were slightly confident that influencers drove marketing success for their clients.

Meanwhile, the percentage of agency pros who said they’re confident in influencer marketing jumped from 16% in Q1 2022 to 25% in Q3 2022, but returned to 15% in Q1 2023.

For brands, the percentage of brand pros who told Digiday they’re only slightly confident in influencers dropped off in the last six months, after having already fallen a bit from the beginning of last year. To be exact, 28% of brand pros said they were slightly confident in influencer marketing in Q1 2022, which fell slightly to 21% in Q3 2022 and then dropped more significantly to 12% in Q1 2023.

Meanwhile, the percentages of brand pros who said they’re somewhat confident or confident in influencers’ ability to drive marketing success have risen steadily in the last year. Exactly one-quarter of brand pros told Digiday in Q1 2022 that they were somewhat confident in influencer marketing, compared with 31% in Q3 2022 and one-third in Q1 2023.

And those who said they’re confident in influencer marketing rose from 20% in Q1 of last year, to 21% in Q3 of last year, to 27% in Q1 of this year.

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