A Year of Growth, Funding & New SaaS Offering for #paid
Today, influencer marketing strategies have become a marketing mainstay. In recent reports, influencer marketing spending is predicted to grow to $10B by 2020 and brands are scrambling to figure out which channels their consumers are spending most of their time on, so that they can correctly distribute their marketing dollars.
Early last year, my colleague Laura Myers connected with Adam Rivietz Co-Founder and CSO of #paid to discuss what their platform offers and how they are changing influencer marketing. #paid has become a leader in the influencer marketing space by incorporating AI to bring marketers and content creators together in integrated programs.
The influencer marketing landscape has evolved tremendously over the past few years. While #paid is still relatively a new company, they have been making huge strides. Mid last year they raised $9 million in funding to expand their influencer marketing platform globally. The round of funding was led by ScaleUP Ventures and included participation from Aitken Investments and Freycinet Investments.
“ScaleUP is excited to lead the Series A round into #paid. With global influencer marketing ad spend exceeding $6B annually, the #paid team has achieved exceptional traction and revenue growth, and we believe they're positioned to accelerate the influencer marketing industry in a big way,” says Matt Roberts, Partner at ScaleUP Ventures. “Their unique matching algorithm leverages AI and online communities to identify creators who deeply believe in the brands they are promoting, and authentically connects them to highly engaged audiences. #paid is in an advantageous position to bring global scale to brands and ad agencies to run influencer and content marketing programs that drive impact and ROI.”
With the ever-changing landscape #paid also announced that they will be expanding the platform with a SaaS offering. This will allow companies to license #paid’s technology, enabling them to run their own influencer marketing campaigns. Additional support is also available, allowing access to #paid’s customer experience team when they are running their own campaigns. The platform allows marketers to engage multiple influencers in creating custom branded content.
“This is a defining moment in our journey as we empower marketers to be at the forefront of culture by working with social media’s top tastemakers,” said Bryan Gold, CEO, and Co-Founder of #paid. “Partnering with ScaleUP Ventures means we can channel their expertise and leadership to scale the #paid platform to new markets across North America and Europe. This investment helps accelerate our mission of democratizing access to the world’s most inspiring creators and empowering them to make a living doing what they love.”
The Federal Trade Commission mandated in 2017 "that influencers disclose when their posts are sponsored". The issue of fake followers has become more challenging to tackle. The New York Times reported that bots account for 15% of Twitter accounts and InfluencerDB also estimated that 25% of sponsored posts on Instagram come from influencers with fake followers.
Since influencer marketing stems from authenticity, “authenticity is everything”. Part of the funding will be invested to improve the algorithm in its machine learning capabilities through Affinity Score, which uses advanced image recognition, industry benchmarks and relationships with creators to make sure the recommendations are authentic and optimal. So strengthening the algorithm will create more accountability in a space rifled with fraud.
Introducing Charlie Locke, VP of Platform Sales
Previously from Shutterstock, #paid brought in Charlie Locke as their VP of Platform Sales. Locke's focus is on building relationships with marketers and agencies and expanding the platform offering globally.
The press release mentioned that his main responsibilities will be to bring #paid’s technology to marketers so they can run influencer campaigns on the platform independently, facilitating relationships between brands with influencers and content creators. The company has been working on the platform to make it easier and more scalable for marketers to streamline and automate parts of the processes when working with multiple influencer partners. Which includes the Affinity Score, an AI-powered algorithm that helps align brands with influencers best suited for their goals.
Locke’s previous experience in the field has lent as an excellent match for #paid. He worked as VP of Sales at Flashstock and was appointed as VP of Enterprise Sales, North America after Shutterstock acquired it. Before that, he was also a Regional Manager of Commercial sales for both Canada and New York at Salesforce. He has also founded two companies aimed at building tech-powered sales and CRM solutions.
“I joined #paid because the team has a unique opportunity to disrupt the fast-growing influencer marketing industry as brands are moving their media spend away from traditional channels into social platforms where they are getting much better performance,” said Locke. “I’m looking forward to working closely with marketers at brands and agencies to make influencer marketing more transparent, demonstrate proven ROI, and ensure we make the process of running influencer marketing programs as smooth as possible.”
2018 has been a year of growth for #paid with adding key company hires at both locations, along with plans for a new Los Angeles office.
While there has been a significant breakdown of trust among influencers and consumers, brand safety issues, fake followers, inauthentic content, #paid has stepped in and is offering up a solution to help regain the trust back. As more technologies become available, brands are increasingly taking their influencer marketing in-house. By doing so, brands have the opportunity to own these relationships and build them more over time gaining a more trusted reputation.
It will be interesting to see the evolution of influencer marketing in 2019. If you want to be part of this exciting industry #paid is currently looking to fill various career positions.