BRUSSELS: About two-thirds (65%) of multinational brands plan to increase their spending on influencer marketing over the next 12 months, but they will do so only where standards on transparency are met, a new global report has found.

According to the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA), brands intend to raise their budgets to boost brand awareness (86%), reach targeted or new audiences (74%) and to improve brand advocacy (69%).

But despite their willingness to spend more on influencer marketing, the vast majority (96%) of the 34 major advertisers who took part in the WFA survey said the quality of followers was “absolutely essential” or “very important”.

Likewise, the credibility and reputation of the influencer was also critical for 93% of respondents, who represented brands with a collective media and marketing budget of around $59bn.

And a further 71% of respondents said the way their brand’s relationship with an influencer is disclosed was an “absolutely essential” or “very important” part of the selection process.

Coming a month after Unilever CMO Keith Weed called for urgent action to improve the transparency of influencer marketing, the WFA said it would use the research and work with its members, such as Unilever, to develop best practice guidance for brands.

“Influencer marketing is becoming a key channel for many marketers but it will only be effective if consumers can trust the influencers by declaring paid relationships and marketers can trust that they are reaching real people, not bots,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of WFA.

“This area has evolved rapidly and this research provides a benchmark revealing how marketing teams and their external partners are managing the new channel,” he added.

The research found that 68% of brands and their chosen influencers currently disclose their relationship via hashtags, while other methods include descriptions in the post or video (63%), a verbal mention (50%) or paid partnership labels (43%).

And all participants in the WFA survey said they used Instagram for influencer marketing, with Facebook and YouTube used by 85% and 67% respectively, while Snapchat (44%) and Twitter (33%) proved to be less popular platforms. Only 19% used WeChat and Pinterest.

Sourced from WFA, The Drum; additional content by WARC staff