Technorati has released a new Digital Influence Report, and the big theme (probably not surprising coming from a blog and social media ad network) is that most online marketing dollars aren’t being directed to the “blogs and influencers” where they could have the greatest effect. At the same, social ad spending is expected to increase significantly this year.
The company previously released annual State of the Blogosphere reports, but starting this year it’s expanding the report’s scope to include social media — hence the change in name. The company says that it surveyed 1,200 consumers, 150 brand marketers, and 6,000 influencers. (I sent Technorati CEO Shani Higgins an email asking how those influencers were identified, and she said that surveys were sent out to the company’s index of 2.5 million influencers, Technorati waited for 6,000 completed responses, and then it checked them to “make sure we get top influencers participating and a wide sample set.”)
Among the marketers, Technorati says 60 percent predicted that social ad spending will increase this year, and that the average predicted increase was 40 percent. However, the vast majority of their online spending still goes to display, search, and video advertising, with social only accounting for 10 percent of the total. And within social itself, most of the spending goes (in descending order) to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, with only 11 percent going to the “blogs and influencers” category that Technorati focuses on.
The report argues that this isn’t the best way for brands to spend their money, because those blogs and influencers rank highly in consumer trust and, well, influence. For example, 31.1 percent of the responding consumers said that blogs influence their purchases, compared to 56 percent saying they’re influenced by retail sites, 30.8 percent influenced by Facebook, and 8 percent influenced by Twitter. To quote the report:
In short, where brands are spending is not fully aligned with how and where consumers are seeing value and being influenced. This has much to do with an essential hurdle faced by most content creators: a lack of metrics and the fragmentation that leads to their complexity as a purchasable medium.
When I asked Higgins how this compares to previous years, she said:
We’ve always seen brands limiting their advertising spends to top endemic publishers which is a mistake given where consumers are going today (blogs) to be influenced around purchase decisions. So in order for that to change brands need to follow consumers’ consumption and not just buy highly marketed media sites.
You may have noticed the emphasis on smaller sites and platforms that can have a bigger impact. This is a reasonable argument, but it can be taken to rather silly extremes — for example, the report says that 54 percent of consumers agree that “the smaller the community, the greater the influence,” which seems … questionable.
Anyway, Technorati blames the supposed misallocation in spending the tools that brands use to plan their campaigns and measure their success. It says, “Brands primarily look to comScore/Nielsen ranking for identifying and selecting influencers first, yet influencers are not well represented in these indices.”