The article was originally published in the CANnual Report 2017
by Levente Soós, Content Director, Café Communications (Hungary)
How can agencies specialized in influencer marketing expand on smaller markets? What trends and challenges are there in the CEE region? In this report, we asked experts of the region about the evolution and operation of influencer networks.
Before we immerse ourselves in the world of influencer networks, let’s picture an everyday conversation. The venue is a café in the city of your liking: Zagreb, Cracow, Budapest or Prague. Two old friends bump into one another, one of them a marketing guy, the other one a high school teacher. Following the usual quick questions of “How are you? And the family?” comes the question: ‘And what do you do for a living?’
The teacher says — with a smile on his face — that the summer break is still on, but he works with teens. The marketing guy confesses reluctantly that he launched an influencer agency the previous year. Seeing the puzzled look on his friend’s face, he adds that he also works with teenagers. They make videos and he helps them earn money from it. The teacher asks him, frowning: ‘Do you mean those horrible nonsenses kids go nuts about? How can you make money of that?’
To turn our attention to those in the business, more and more marketing specialists acknowledge the potential of influencers, and bigger brands venture to this field with increasing enthusiasm. For advertisers, the easiest and the most efficient solution is to collaborate with specialized agencies with an extensive portfolio and sufficient experience in the world of – for the time being – young bloggers, YouTubers and opinion leaders. We had a talk with professionals who were pioneers of the influencer marketing industry on their respective markets: they contributed to e.g. an organically expanding blogger community, a rapidly growing YouTube network and a media agency that acts as a forerunner of local trends. Despite the different market sizes and the diverse consumer habits, there is a clear parallel between the influencer networks and their evolution in the given countries.
All experienced marketing specialists agree that the CEE region is a few years behind the English-language markets in advertising and media as well.
Agencies and networks in the UK and the US experienced a similar escalation 3-4 years ago, while some countries in the region have come to their senses only now. Maybe too late on smaller markets. In some countries – e.g. in Romania and Serbia –, YouTubers already signed a contract with international networks or they have a manager in the traditional sense of the word, with disadvantageous contractual terms.
What’s more, big international media companies have started to acquire bigger networks one by one in recent years. To set a couple of examples, Disney bought the American Maker Studios – managing thousands of YouTube channels – and Warner Bros. purchased Machinima, a company mainly focusing on gamers.
Multi-Channel Network, But Not Really
A handful of influencer networks in the CEE region focus on YouTube and YouTubers primarily, but they do not consider themselves a classic Multi-Channel Network (MCN) such as the above-mentioned Maker Studios, in spite of the fact that they are official “YouTube Certified Partners”. This might be due to the fact that the MCN model is designed especially for the management of hundreds or even thousands of YouTube channels in one hand and this is supported by premium tools and continuous support on behalf of Google.
The scope of activities of most influencer marketing agencies includes more than the business, legal and technical management of channels, and due to that, they go beyond the MCN model. Such entrepreneurships have to cover events organization, production management, talent management and original content creation in order to be efficient.
The often underage (under 18) influencers receive their income in different ways, depending on the market: in MCNstyle scenarios, they get a dividend from the advertising revenues, while certain agencies pay them a fix, monthly salary.
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