The Association of National Advertisers released its first guidelines for influencer marketing last month, which detailed how marketers should be approaching and measuring the discipline for brands. 

The guidelines focused largely on providing marketers with metrics related to awareness, consumer engagement and conversion KPIs. ANA also recommended using the guidelines as a starting point, sharing them with internal marketing teams and aligning agency partners on the use of the guidelines for organic campaign measurement and reporting.

Influencer marketing has grown in popularity among brands in recent years, with a Meltwater study released in May finding that sponsored feed posts increased 27% year-over-year.

Still, despite the ANA’s best efforts, the guidelines for influencer marketing leave something to be desired, according to Jason Lucey, Senior Director of Marketing Measurement at Real Chemistry. 

Lucey said that the guidelines are largely generic based on simple metrics that don’t include the nuances necessary for them to be more effective for marketers to properly advise their clients.

“Maybe it was just a door-opener for the ANA, maybe it was just a way to start the conversation and had good intentions, but it doesn’t get to what we would look for when we talk to clients about performance and what to expect from an influencer campaign,” Lucey said. 

Being precise about the scope and goals of an influencer-supported campaign is critical for agencies, Lucey added, noting that delivering results for clients is the paramount concern. Given the investment of time and resources, collaborating with influencers on behalf of clients and subsequently engaging with target audiences must be measured in a meaningful way. Currently, he said, this is not reflected in the current ANA guidelines. 

The most significant value that influencers bring to the equation is their unique perspective and sense of authenticity, which amplifies their message and makes it even more relatable to their followers. Lucey noted that the ‘ripple effects’ from influencers, which is when their followers continue to amplify a message or piece of content, is a crucial part of modern marketing strategy but is missing from the guidelines. 

“There is this secondary ripple effect that offers the unique value of influencer marketing,” he said. “But that requires having a committed fan base; people who are connected with the influencer and ties into the authenticity. We want to be careful with that and not abuse it.” 

Looking ahead, Lucey said it’s hard to tell what the future holds for influencer marketing, noting that rollercoaster ride the discipline has endured over the past few years. Still, he predicted it would not go away and that agencies and brands alike would find “the right balance” and have smarter conversations around strategies and metrics. 

Lucey said that a key question that marketers must embrace is how influencer marketing generates business value for clients. He said marketers shouldn’t tip-toe around the topic with a litany of metrics but rather focus on discussing how far they are into the life cycle of a consumer or the journey of the client and their patients. 

“If we can keep focused on value and authentic impact, then we’re going to get a lot better,” he said. “Hopefully, we can cut through the noise a little bit better, tell a better story and do good work in that way.”