Asia’s influencers frequently offer a bracing contrast to the conformity of mainstream media, but the dash by brands to take advantage of this has resulted in the beginnings of a backlash, according to one agency observer.

“2018 was the year we reached peak influencer”, writes Ida Siow, head of planning at JWT Singapore and Southeast Asia, in this month’s Admap. “In Asia, influencer marketing exploded off the back of youthful demographics, high smartphone penetrations and the spread of social platforms.

“Seduced by the promise of reach and affinity at lower cost, brands and businesses are investing in influencers like never before.” (For more, read the full article: Influencer marketing in Asia: Time for brands and influencers to reclaim its true promise.)

This Gadarene rush has led to some sharp practice by influencers, such as buying followers and a lack of transparency over endorsements, and a failure by brands to properly consider the value of such influencer partnerships.

“The glut of transactional sponsorships and mismatched tactics with no real connection between brands and their influencer endorsers has blindsided businesses,” Siow argues.

“Both brands and influencers have the responsibility to open up their horizons and their ambitions, and reclaim the power and meaning of influence.”

In India that means moving beyond the celebrity endorsement brands have generally preferred to use to embrace digital content creators.

Ana Thorsdottir, head of influencer marketing strategy at MediaCom, points out that a lot of content pushed out by these celebrities can be poor quality, one reason there are signs that consumers increasingly prefer the output of professional bloggers, video content creators or creatives in various mediums.

“That’s because they communicate directly and transparently with fans instead of simply talking at them as many celebrities do, making it a powerful channel both at the research stage and for the final stage of the purchase journey,” she says. (For more, read the full article: India’s influencer marketing evolution.)

Further east, China’s influencer marketing industry is three to five years ahead of the rest of the world, according to Elijah Whaley, chief marketing officer at PARKLU. “It’s not about being top of mind or being mentioned by an influencer,” she says, “but about building relationships founded on reciprocity.”

More worryingly for agencies in China, influencer-led creative studios have started to compete directly for content creation projects. (For more, read Look east to know the future of influencer marketing).

This issue of Admap - Influencer marketing: beyond the hype - features a selection of articles by thought leaders from across the globe (WARC subscribers can access a deck which summarises the expert advice and key recommendations from all the authors). Readers can sign up for a WARC webinar on February 26, in which Tania Yuki, founder of Shareablee, discusses five things to consider when selecting an influencer.

Sourced from Admap