News UK, the news publisher, is aiming to bring some structure to the world of social media influencers with its new, full-service agency, The Fifth.

The intention is to work with influencers in a more nuanced way, by defining them not just by their reach, but also by their tone and format and where these sit with brands.

The Fifth will identify influencer talent and provide management, Campaign reported, as well as storytelling strategy and creative production, with the intention of driving long-term ROI.

Managing director Oliver Lewis says the agency, which has been in gestation for the last nine months, is a perfect fit with the media giant, and that News UK is in a unique position to address some of the central challenges the influencer industry is facing.

“What we’re doing here is aligning our existing assets and the skills in the business around content production, storytelling and we have the resources, along with the studio expertise, to help brands transition towards longer-term creative executions,” he said. “We also have a history of discovering new talent and a lot to offer to that talent.”

There have been numerous calls from sponsors and advertisers for more rigour to be brought to bear on the influencer industry as follower fraud has become a growing issue. Regulators, too, have also brought pressure to bear on stars appearing on Instagram to make sponsored content much clearer to followers.

Lewis told The Drum he wants the agency to “redefine” the term influencer.

The space is “exciting and it’s growing,” he said, “but it’s also hit a bit of an inflection point where there is a growing need for professionalism.”

Earlier this year, Advertising Association president Keith Weed identified trust as something the industry needs to address as a matter of urgency, labelling it as one of the seven deadly sins of the sector. And he cited fake followers as one of the reasons some 69% of the public no longer trust advertising, quoting a figure from Ipsos Connect.

Last month’s Admap addressed the topic in its Influencer marketing: beyond the hype issue, in which advice included the careful monitoring of potentially fake followers. These can often be spotted, it said, by low-engagement rates, inconsistent posting, yet a high number of followers.

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