The rising excitement over influencer marketing campaigns in India is highlighted in a new survey of over 500 brands and content creators.

Carried out by Buzzoka, an influencer marketing company, the Influencer Marketing Outlook survey found that almost three quarters of brands (73%) said they aimed to increase their spend on influencer marketing this year.

And over half those quizzed said the biggest draw of influencers was “better reach and engagement”, Quartz reported.

Instagram was the top choice for 69% of those asked; a considerable way behind came LinkedIn and TikTok, both with 8%.

Marketers are starting looking beyond the usual suspects – the sports and Bollywood stars who they have traditionally turned to for endorsement.

Over 80% of respondents said those who have built up a follower base – sometimes of millions – based solely on their social media content were “important” or “very important” to their marketing plans.

“From celebrities to the rising class of micro-influencers – experts in a specific topic with smaller but more highly engaged audiences – influencers are emerging as a critical marketing tool for brands,” the report said.

“Influencers help brands grow awareness and consideration. Increasingly, they’re also helping drive sales.”

But, while marketers say they now consider influencers as the fastest-growing online acquisition method – 31%, as opposed to those who cite organic and paid-for advertising (23% each) – spending doesn’t yet reflect the buzz.

On average, more than two-thirds of marketers said they spend $50,000 on each influencer campaign per year, per brand.

And last year most companies spent just 5% to 7% of their total marketing budget on influencers – although 73% of companies said their budget allocation would rise in 2019.

A major appeal is that time spent on an influencer campaign is comparatively short, with most respondents saying they spent under 10 hours on average.

The biggest single challenge cited by marketers is ROI, the survey found. The problem of calculating ROI on influencer spending was named by 46% of respondents, and only 4% listed ROI as the main attraction of influencer campaigns.

One of the key difficulties, marketers said, is the huge number of fake followers in the sector. Finding influencers who have the right fit with a brand was the second most quoted challenge (42%).

Sourced from Quartz; additional content by WARC staff