As interest in influencer marketing skyrockets, so too does the competition for clients by influencer marketing platforms.
Over the last 12 months, 320 new influencer marketing focused platforms and agencies have entered the market up from 190 in 2015, according to the Influencer Marketing Hub. However, at least one company has made claims that have caught the attention of NAD, the investigative unit of the ad industry’s system of self-regulation.
NAD said that Ahalogy’s service is based on metrics approved by the Media Ratings Council (MRC) and that unlike traditional influencer marketing platforms, which rely primarily on native posts and influencer follower counts, Ahalogy’s platform uses promoted posts to serve influencer-created content.
A key issue before NAD was whether the advertiser accurately communicates that the benefits of its influencer marketing platform are limited to the type of paid, targeted, social media advertisements that it uses in its influencer campaigns or conveys the misleading message that its platform can verify all social media audience data, including all impressions, traffic and engagement metrics derived from influencers’ native posts on social media.
Audience data related to paid posts can be tracked and measured by third-party verification providers. However, NAD found that Ahalogy also “reasonably communicated” that the platform could verify all social media audience data, including impressions, traffic and engagement derived from influencers’ native posts on social media. NAD also found that Ahalogy’s advertising “reasonably conveyed” that the platform is a fraud detection tool geared towards detecting the influencer fraud it highlighted in its ads.
“It was undisputed that Ahalogy’s influencer marketing platform does not verify audience data derived from all social media content or detect influencer fraud by distinguishing between real and fake followers,” NAD said.
Inmar, a provider of a competing Collective Bias influencer marketing platform, challenged the claims.
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As a result, last month NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue claims that its product is “100 percent verified,” as well as claims suggesting its product is capable of detecting fraud by distinguishing between real and fake followers and verifying audience data derived from all social media content.
NAD, which is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, alternatively recommended that the advertiser modify the challenged claims to make clear that its platform only uses promoted posts on social media, which enables Ahalogy to verify 100 percent of its audience data and circumvent the problem of influencer fraud.
NAD had a few more recommendations and comments:
• that the advertiser discontinue claims that it offers the “first and only” third-party verification solution for influencer marketing
• That the advertiser’s display of a MRC seal in a YouTube video, followed by a graphically identical seal stating “Verified by Moat,” did not convey the misleading message that all of Ahalogy’s verification capabilities are accredited by the MRC.
In a statement, Ahalogy said it was pleased that NAD had recognized that its influencer marketing platform can ensure that influencer content “reaches its intended—and real—audience” and enables Ahalogy to “verify 100 percent of impressions and engagement.” Ahalogy stated that it appreciated NAD’s careful consideration of this matter and that it agreed to comply with its recommendations.
Collective Bias said that it was pleased with NAD’s decision and recommendations.
“We look forward to seeing Ahalogy hold up their agreement to comply with the recommendations and to make the appropriate changes to their platform claims,” says Inmar VP Product Ali Mirian. “All steps that Ahalogy and every other company within influencer marketing take to continue to clean up the industry benefits everyone. We believe its the responsibility of every influencer marketing company to properly uphold their claims of customer benefits and to be consistently transparent with brands when it comes to ensuring brand safety, measurement, payment and more.”