Influencer marketing is one of the fastest-growing and one of the most impactful media channels today. There’s a growing ad-blocking movement and key demographics are spending less time in front of TVs.
Marketers have now realized that their customers trust the recommendations of people they relate with. However, despite this being an impactful channel, brand teams globally face a major dilemma: determining the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns.
AIfluence is a two-year-old startup with an AI-driven influencer marketing approach to measuring these campaigns. Today, the company is announcing that it has raised $1 million in seed investment led by Dubai-based EQ2 Ventures. Other investors include Antler East Africa, Oui Capital, ArabyAds and an unnamed European family office.
AIfluence was founded by Nelson Aseka, George Issaias, Lamusia Anzaya and Ankit Jindal in 2019. Placing AI at the core of the product, the founders started AIfluence to accurately match influencers to brands, run end to end influencer marketing campaigns and bring transparency to the measurement of impact (ROI)
According to CEO Aseka, AIfluence is developed for an audience-first approach. It identifies and gains deep insights into a target audience and works backwards to identify influencers that impact this target audience. The platform is built on a trust network model where it deploys thousands of nano influencers and followers who have a natural affinity to a brand and exhibit a high emotional connection with the target audience.
“We are at the cusp of a revolution. Globally the way marketing works is changing. We find ourselves at an intersection of advanced technology and the fastest-growing region in the world in terms of digital and social media penetration. It’s an exciting place to be. Africa’s rich tradition for storytelling is alive and kicking,” Aseka said in a statement. “We simply enable such stories to be shared between peers who know and trust each other, and can place our brand messages into the heart of this communication ecosystem.”
The platform was launched out of company builder and VC firm Antler East Africa in late 2019 as one of its first cohorts before officially going live in April 2020. Antler is known for bringing together professionals with, on average, 10 years of experience in their respective industries to start companies. That is the case with AIfluence, where its C-level executives have varying experiences in influencer marketing, growing brands and consumer tech products.
AIfluence is the first startup from the builder to have raised up to $1 million. “We are excited to see local founders with deep expertise in the African market take a global problem head-on, and in a short time demonstrate a tech solution that is fast attracting demand in Africa and beyond,” Antler East Africa’s partner Melalite Ayenew said in a statement.
Talking about tackling a global problem, AIfluence says it is currently running campaigns for clients across 13 countries in African and Asia. These clients are regional and global advertisers that span FMCG, banking, travel and electronics sectors. Aseka says Alfluence has closed more than $1 million in contracts from these clients.
AIfluence makes money by running brand campaigns that drive awareness of products and services, and lead generation and conversion campaigns that drive sales. The company is currently working on a SaaS offering it says will “lace the power of the platform in the hands of its customers.”
A major challenge the company has had, Aseka describes, is identifying robust payments solutions to cater to its thousands of influencers across different regions. However, it is in the past now. “Fortunately, we have so far been able to solve this by identifying a reliable payment partner, who we will grow with as we expand across new markets,” he said.
These markets include the rest of Africa, the Middle East and Asia. With the recently raised investment, AIfluence plans to launch into these markets by the end of the year and invest in its tech and SaaS platform.
“People are the new media in today’s digital world, and AIfluence is uniquely positioned to turn this reality into tangible results for advertisers. We’ve been impressed by the team’s obsession to use data in order to spread authentic and relevant messages to the right audience. This is what advertising should always be. We’re looking forward to AIfluence’s journey ahead,” CEO of EQ2 Ventures Patrick Thiriet CEO said in a statement.