NEW YORK/LAS VEGAS: Influencer marketing has evolved from its original PR focus into a media channel in its own right and is attracting investment from industry giants looking to reach younger digital consumers.

At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, GroupM, the media investment management division of WPP, announced a partnership with media company Fullscreen to form Playa, an influencer marketing partnership dedicated to serving clients across GroupM and WPP agencies.

"Influence has changed," said Rob Norman, chief digital officer, GroupM, in a statement. "New voices are needed for the digital generation. Celebrity ebbs and flows so much faster now, and brands need to capture that flow and to exploit micro-audience segments."

A crucial aspect in the development of influencer marketing has been the ability to measure the impact of campaigns. While much of this has typically been done internally by the platforms involved, external organisations are now adding their expertise and credibility.

Playa, for example, is to use Millward Brown and Tubular Labs to provide third-party measurement, Adweek reported, while TapInfluence, an influencer marketplace and platform, has linked up with Datalogix and Nielsen to use loyalty card data to tie influencers to offline purchases.

Rustin Banks, TapInfluence's co-founder and chief product officer, told eMarketer that this built on the existing marketing mix modelling where the platform correlated spikes in influencer marketing to spikes in sales.

"We can put that model into our software, and it will tell you on a per-influencer basis how many sales each influencer is driving," he explained.

"We also integrate with the brand-lift providers [to see how other marketing media are performing], and then we can tie their numbers back to revenue models."

That capacity, he added, has meant that brands are now treating influencer marketing more like a media channel. "Brands are pulling budget from TV, they're pulling budget from display ads and they're putting it into influencer," he stated.

Data sourced from Adweek, eMarketer; additional content by Warc staff