How agencies are investing in influencers this Super Bowl

This story is part of Digiday’s annual coverage of the Super Bowl. More from the series →

With this weekend’s Super Bowl expected to cost some $7 million for a 30-second ad, agencies are turning to influencer marketing and commerce strategies to maximize their dollars.

Some influencer agencies are beefing up their new offerings leading up to the Big Game, while others are trying to strike a balance between household Hollywood names and emerging influencers in their content. Either way, influencers and retail media are playing a growing role in social media feeds during massive live events like the Super Bowl.

This year, influencer Addison Rae made an ad promoting Nerds’ gummies for the brand’s first Super Bowl commercial. (Rae recently made the jump to acting in some Netflix films.) Meanwhile, Dunkin’ and Ben Affleck are back with a Super Bowl spot: This time with the Batman actor trying to become a pop star (with Charli D’Amelio’s help).

“We’re seeing influencers across all tiers get in on the action — from starring in commercials to hosting and attending events to producing content for brands and providing on-the-ground reporting,” said Bea Iturregui, vp of creator and brand partnerships at creator marketing agency Cycle.

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Beyond social media

This week, influencer marketing agency HireInfluence added new digital, audio and augmented reality offerings to help brands grow beyond social media. These investments are especially relevant for brands looking to get into the Super Bowl conversation, said Chris Jacks, director of growth strategy at HireInfluence.

“Brands can make their ad campaigns increasingly more effective if they take a multi-channel approach,” Jacks said. “Marketers do not need to continuously recreate the wheel — instead they can build off of the momentum of social-first content to ensure their message lands and is truly memorable.”

Some of the agency’s latest offerings include what it calls out-of-phone content forms, which uses influencer content throughout traditional channels, including billboard campaigns and programmatic outdoor campaigns. Its web-based AR offering overlays digital content on a user’s web browser to create immersive environments. Influencers can also use this WebAR feature to create content.

Other influencer agencies have similarly employed an omnichannel approach to the game — combining hiring influencers onsite and creators who announced events leading up to it.

Ryan Detert, CEO of Influential, said the agency is also focusing on expanding a creator presence in linear TV for Super Bowl ads. He said nearly each of the agency’s brands has extended their Super Bowl spend on social media with influencer marketing in recent years. For sponsored content, Detert mentioned seeing more than 50% of advertisers now using creators for their “big spend.”

“Our strategy is to leverage the right talent to hit the correct audiences, then use purchase-based data to amplify the content or campaign to current or lapsed users through paid media on social and in digital out of home (DOOH) or CTV to scale in a short period of time,” Detert added.

The creator-led DOOH and CTV content is driving 15% more traffic to online or offline locations compared to traditional creative, according to Influencer, which didn’t provide exact figures.

Celebrities vs. influencers?

While the line between a Hollywood celebrity and popular influencer may be blurring, James Nord, CEO of influencer agency Fohr, argues that both serve a purpose in context of the Super Bowl — but influencers play a more pivotal role after the game.

“Brands should be going for the traditional, big-budget creative ads with legacy stars, huge names — people who are a product of the monoculture that is disappearing,” Nord added. “The opportunity with influencers comes after — how do you take the stories you’re telling through the Super Bowl ads, and make those come to life with influencers in a way that doesn’t feel scripted, bad or cringe?”

Shea Carter, vp of social and influencer at The Social Element, noted seeing influencer marketing budgets increasing at “a faster rate than social media ad spending” as influencer content spreads across TikTok and Instagram. Carter agreed that the influencer-as-celebrity line has been blurring for a while — but now influencers are getting more opportunities that were previously offered for celebrity endorsements during the Super Bowl. By Carter’s estimation, some creators are securing a “minimum of six-figure deals,” with some even “high sixes or even seven.”

“Influencers are being treated like celebs in this case because of the blurred lines, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are collecting similar paychecks as celebs would for the same opportunities,” Carter said.

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