‘We’re in an influencer bubble’: A Digiday+ town hall with Ian Schafer

Ian Schafer, chief experience officer at Engine and the founder of Deep Focus, joined us on Thursday for a town hall on Slack. We discussed influencers, new agency models and why Amazon may one day rule everything.

We hold Slack town halls every two weeks, and in between, we’ll have editorial chats and group discussions on industry topics. Become a member of Digiday+ and join us.

Here’s what you missed from our chat with Schafer.

We’re in an influencer bubble
There are more influencers than people who have influence. Too many followers of these accounts are useless (or worse, fake). And, it’s an excuse for advertisers to say they got way more than what they paid for, and too often, influencers become a liability. I’m sure you’ve seen the most recent Logan Paul video, for example, or PewDiePie. There are celebs that charge tens of thousands per post, and that’s insane. It’s like offering a Groupon. Very low-quality responses. That said, every brand should have an influencer strategy. It should just be smart. And that strategy should more often than not be about relationships versus buying influencers “programmatically.”

Snapchat has advertiser ‘friction’
Advertisers are used to social media equating to the democratization of broadcasting and distribution. But with Snapchat, most consumption is 1-to-1. It creates more friction for advertisers, while they’ve been told for years that social media was all about the removal of friction. Snapchat has gotten MUCH better metrics-wise; you just have to know what you’re looking for. You’re not going to get tons of raw data. We’ve got a long history of getting close to platforms well before they emerge, so our relationships with them have always been good. We’ve been first movers and providers of case studies, so they tend to want to/prefer to work with us.

Brandless — the startup selling $3 consumer goods — is an exercise in irony
The only choice chance Brandless has is to build a very strong brand where people are willing to pay more for an otherwise competitive product. I think it’s a fantastic exercise in irony. Amazon already has Brandless. It’s called AmazonBasics, and they are killing it. If you sell anything made of plastic, paper, wires or food, Amazon is coming for you.

Amazon is likely to get broken up by the government
Trump has other issues at the moment, but eventually there will be questions about Amazon’s control over retail. There will be too many big “victims” (read: consumer packaged goods companies) with too many lobbying dollars to let them off the hook.


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