Influencer Marketing: It’s Nothing New

What you will learn from this post:

  • How influencer marketing is an evolution of product placement
  • How today’s social media superstars differ 
  • How best to integrate influencer marketing into your brand’s marketing campaigns 


Influencer marketing is hot, that’s surely not news to anyone. This marketing tactic has been the darling of online advertising for the past 8-12 months and rightfully so. Companies are investing in it, your favorite websites are talking about it, “new-era celebrities” are being created from it and some real (and meaningful) metrics are starting to emerge about the performance companies are seeing from influencers.

Studies are showing upwards of a 7:1 ROI, or that influencer marketing resulted in a 60% greater shift in brand perception metrics. Let’s face it, these results indicate that influencer marketing deserves your attention. (Source: The Unique Benefits of Influencer Marketing, Nielson.)

What’s Influencer Marketing All About?

Let’s take a step back before we look forward. This style of marketing may seem unique, but in fact, you already know all about it. Connecting a brand with a storyteller isn’t new, it’s been around for a century in a slightly different form.

What has changed? Simply the medium in which the audience is being reached.

As marketers, it is our job to find audiences in environments which are underpriced and to take advantage of it for our personal or professional gains. This has been done for decades; think back to the first soap operas that ran on network TV. Entirely funded by Proctor & Gamble, they were taking an opportunity to create content and to insert a variety of products into the content. The cost of production, talent and airtime was appropriate enough to warrant the investment to reach the potential audience.

We have also seen this in the movie theatre, before Netflix began to disrupt this for us all. Remember the Italian Job from 2003? The Mini brand launch the revitalized Mini Cooper to heroic sales figures following a major cameo in the movie. Again, nothing new here. Simply a savvy marketer spotting an opportunity to capture massive amounts of attention and inserting their product/brand in a creative way.

In Today’s Social Media Addicted World

Today’s Influencer Marketing trend has been popularized by brands utilizing social media channels to capture an entirely new wave of content producers. Look no further than Kim Kardashian or Selena Gomez. But there are others you may not be as familiar with such as Jake Paul or Jillian Harris who has developed a powerhouse of a personal brand on social media.

No matter what you may think about the production value, you can’t deny the sheer size of the audience and the potential opportunity it represents for brands to capitalized on. 

Today’s hyper-addicted social audience also creates an interesting moment for marketers, one which is significantly different from that of the historical television or movie placements. Many of today’s influencers have grown up online, along with a growing portion of the Canadian population. Consequently these “new-era” celebrities have documented much of their lives online, creating a very deep connection with their followers. Followers who are leaning into the content, engaging with it and investing in the products that are being recommended to them by those they trust.

Where Does it Fit?

With the continued development of analytical tools and attribution models, we anticipate more and more marketers will explore this marketing tactic to drive sales in the future. As things stand today, this has been quite non-academic and has resulted to using promo codes or dedicated landing pages to establish attribution, forcing brands to view influencer marketing a brand play.

Overall, the connection between influencers and brands is developing meaningful moments for marketers where brands are beginning to tap into very deep connections with tremendous success. Forget about all the hype; we’ve found a new pocket of opportunity, one which we believe is only getting started. An argument could be had that this space was undervalued. That is beginning to change but there is a phenomenal amount of value to take advantage of here.