For brands evaluating new marketing channels today, a big question is whether to go with an influencer marketing agency or an influencer marketing platform.

Many of our clients call us the influencer marketing platform for athletes / sports, and given that about 80% of our deals involve athletes posting on social media, and about 60% of our deals only involve social media content ... I'd say that we are definitely a good solution for influencer marketing managers looking to engage athletes within their marketing channels. 

We have written many other posts about the differences between sponsorship and influencer marketing, as well as many on why there is a big overlap. However, for this post, I want to focus on the pros and cons of choosing an influencer marketing agency vs. an influencer marketing platform.

What are the important factors to consider when running an influencer marketing program?

We list them below along with which wins when considering an influencer marketing agency vs. an influencer marketing platform. 

1. Influencer - Brand Demographics match

The best matches between brands and influencers occurs when there is the best overlap between the follower demographic of the influencer and the brand's audience. As this is an analytics play, there is no doubt that having a platform to give this data in a few clicks and a few seconds makes most sense. Check out USA Gymanast Josh Dixon's profile to see how we make this data so easy to view. 


2. The right price to pay an Influencer

Understanding the price of influencer marketing is the holy grail and where an Agency may have a better view of price for individual influencers, at scale a platform is best placed to predict and dictate price. At OpenSponsorship we have worked tirelessly to come up with an Algorithm to predict price as well as continually look at which influencers apply to which campaigns to keep perfecting this model. Here you can see some athletes and their pricing ranges based on real applications submitted through the platform. 


3. Campaign to run with an influencer

Many brands ask us - should we be asking an influencer for 1 social media posts or 2 posts. Or should be asking the influencer to post on Instagram, Twitter or Youtube or even new platform, TikTok. And even should we asking for an Instagram Story, Video or Post. Many of the answers to these questions are just based on (a) your goals at the time of the campaign and (b) what is working in the wider world of social media. An agency may be better placed to answer part (a) however, part (b) is  better known by a influencer marketing platform who is running thousands of influencer marketing campaigns and tracking ROI and results. Here you can see a list of campaigns we offer to our brands as templates based on the best results we see from previous case studies (LINK - you will need to sign up for a free account first).


4. ROI tracking

Of course, the ultimate objective of any influencer marketing campaign whether through an agency, a platform or run by the brand itself is to see results. For most brands that either means increasing brand awareness and / or increasing sales usually to a website. Some agencies have the tools to track these things in a number of different ways, but this means multiple costs and different resources. Platforms like OpenSponsorship are able to track ROI in the most comprehensive way, which includes generating unique UTM links for the influencer to use in a post, tracking the UTM link to website traffic and even sales via shopify and google analytics conversions. Being able to attribute every Shopify sale to an influencer and being able to attribute every website visit to every influencer means that marketing managers have the confidence to test a lot of different influencers and then double-down and do long-term deals with those that perform best. 

In conclusion, an influencer marketing agency is an amazing resource if you are running campaigns with a small number of influencers and the agency is very intertwined with the brand. An influencer marketing platform can supercharge a brand's influencer marketing efforts and ensure that ROI is tracked and optimized, it can ensure the right influencers are chosen and the right price is paid. Even many influencer marketing agencies today rely on platform to manage their programs at scale which makes sense because in a marketing world that is govern by data, analytics and being able to achieve scale, technology and AI to give the best outcome. 


5. Cost effective marketing programs 

Using a technology platform dramatically brings down the price of not only how much you pay the influencer (as point 3 above), but also the price of the campaign as a whole comes down. This is thanks to the various tools to save human hours which are expensive, for example, our bot that does the continual follow up with the influencers to make sure they post on time. This can often take up to 5 hours of chasing, thanks to our platform it takes you 0 hours. Calculating the ROI can often take someone with an analytics background and again many man hours, thanks to our technology it can just be a few integrations to other services and a few clicks to get the ROI. Our campaigns start at just $399/month, a steal when you think that most Influencer agencies will require a retainer or minimum commitment in the tens of thousands of dollars. 


6. Lack of Bias

When working with people or an Influencer agency there is an innate bias towards some athletes over others - are they on my favorite team, are they good looking, is their sport cool etc. Where some of these criteria are sometimes needed, much of the time these are arbitrary to what we really should judge an influencer on e.g. activity on social media, demographics of following, engagement received on social media posts and the pitch to the campaign as to why the brand should pick that athlete. Following the data is what's most important and an influencer marketplace is able to provide that data in an easy way to understand and act upon. 

In conclusion - whether judging on measuring ROI, paying the right price, running the best value marketing campaign or even picking the right influencer, a marketplace / platform is always the better choice than using an influencer agency, or for the retained agency to use the tools and data on the platform, thus using both in conjunction!


If you want to learn more, and see a demo of our awesome tools and functionality - get in touch! Click below.

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Ishveen Jolly

Ishveen is the CEO and Founder of OpenSponsorship, which she started because she loves sponsorship but hates hold calling. She was recognized in 2015 on Forbes 30Under30 for Sports.