In continuation of my 2017 speaker interview series, I bring you the newest pre-conference interview — one with Gil Eyal of HYPR.

Question: In a few words, could you please tell the IMD’s community about yourself and what you do?

Gil: I am the CEO and co-founder of HYPR, which organizes social media information and makes specific audiences reachable at scale. Founded in 2013, HYPR’s Search Engine leverages its smart index that houses profiles and audience demographic information for over 10 million influencers across major social channels. HYPR boasts a client base of over 100 Fortune 500 brands and 25 of the biggest advertising and PR agencies in the world, including LVMH, Next Models, PepsiCo, Hearst, Calvin Klein, Time Inc. and Estée Lauder. I also served as the COO of early player photo-sharing app Mobli Media, where we collaborated with the world’s biggest stars, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Serena Williams, Lil Wayne and Lance Armstrong.

Question: Influencer marketing has been around for a few years and has already had its share of ups and downs. What are the biggest challenges that you see it face now

Gil: As the industry shifts away from one that has 5,000 major influencers activated by the richest and largest brands to one that has millions of micro-influencers activated by tens of thousands of small brands, everything changes:

  1. Discovery becomes a lot harder. You no longer have the ability to just reach out to two or three big agencies. There are millions of influencers for you to choose from, and odds are you don’t know most of them. You need tools that can help you sift through this enormous pile and pick the right ones based on their audience and how influential they are within your specific context.
  2. The financial equation changes and automation becomes a necessity. Activating 50 small influencers is a lot harder than activating one large influencer – but the financial returns might be exactly the same in both cases, leading to an increase in demand for automation and measurement.
  3. Fraud invades Influencer Marketing. Soft fraud like asking other influencers to like your content, along with hard fraud like buying fake engagement will continue to become a major challenge for brands and influencers alike. Influencers will feel increasing pressure to fake their performance, to keep up with other “fake” influencers who appear to be more successful.

Question: How can marketers overcome these?

Gil: Naivety and settling for a big name and vanity metrics will be replaced by technology and sophistication. Agencies and brands will be challenged to look at the same audience metrics they look at on other digital advertising formats.

Companies dedicated to automating influencer discovery, activation and measurement will replace dated platforms that are ill equipped to deal the changes in the industry.

Influencers will feel the pressure to produce analytics and data, and the shift to micro-influencers will transfer power over to the brands who will now have an enormous selection to choose from – as opposed to dealing with one big name influencer and having to succumb to their needs. Furthermore, business models will change as micro-influencers become commoditized and easily replaceable, and brands will demand result oriented activations, paying only for actual results – a shift from payment upfront to pay for performance.

Question: What, in your opinion, is the biggest advantage of (doing) influencer marketing?

Gil: The average young user on the internet sees 1,000-5,000 ads a day online. He remembers none of them. If he happens to remember any vaguely, he doesn’t remember the brand. If he remembers the brand, he typically has negative feelings and feels violated.

The metrics are completely reversed when we speak about influencers. People follow a select group they care about (especially on the niche level), remember the brands that were mentioned and tend to have good will towards those brands.

Question: When operating on a tight budget, but wanting to hop on the influencer marketing bandwagon, where would you recommend a company to focus their efforts, how, and why?

Gil: Micro and targeted.

Yes. It’s exciting to have Rihanna talk about your brand, but she has an extremely diverse audience. Most of it doesn’t really care about your brand, only has a loose connection to her and definitely doesn’t buy something or vote a certain way because of what she said.

Shift away to someone like Katy Degroot. Virtually all of her audience is following her for makeup tips. She’s much more affordable, easy to work with and authentic – assuming of course you’re selling a makeup product. Most importantly, every single eyeball comes from someone who might be interested in your product.

Question: On September 25, 2017 you’re speaking at Influencer Marketing Days. Why should marketers want attend your session?

Gil: There are a lot of misconceptions about the industry – often driven by people with specific interests.

I’ve worked with hundreds of the biggest celebrities and influencers in the world ranging from Leonardo DiCaprio, Lil Wayne, Lance Armstrong, Zendaya, Nash Grier, Cameron Dallas, Serena Williams and Pitbull. I’ve been on that buying side.

I know exactly how things work and where the pitfalls are. My Company HYPR is the only Influencer Company I know that has no direct relationship with any influencer. We supply brands with third party data about millions of Influencers, and I plan on using this opportunity to have a no holds barred conversation about every trick and pitfall a marketer should be aware of before entering this space.

Question: If you were to give one piece of influencer marketing advice to brands/advertisers, and one to influencers, what would they be?

Gil:

Brands: Don’t fall in love with specific influencers. Every influencer has hundreds of twins that can easily replace them. You just need to find them. When you have options, you have power and that translates to tremendous returns when done right.

Influencers: you have no better asset than the relationship with your audience. Don’t betray them for a quick buck and always be completely transparent with them.

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