Balancing AI efficiency with effectiveness


Issue #130 | Your reading time this week is 5 mins. 15 secs.

And … we’re back. It’s been a minute. But, normal service has resumed. Many thanks to everyone who’s asked me when to expect the next newsletter. 

Let’s get into it! Here’s some of what I’ve been thinking about this week:

  • Balancing AI efficiency and effectiveness

  • Italy clamps down on influencers - though a recent sweep indicates most influencers are effectively declaring ads

  • 51 influencer marketers share their outreach tips

  • Logan Paul, CryptoZoo and the Cautionary Tale for Creator-led brands

  • Influencing general elections

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Do you trust AI?

AI and influencer marketing in 2024

2024 will be another big year for AI in influencer marketing - no prizes for that prediction - but marketers should be aware of balance. How far should you go in embracing AI and building it into your workflow?

Here are a few questions to consider when bringing AI into your workflow:

  1. Have you struck the right balance between efficiency and effectiveness? 

  2. What are you doing with the financial and time savings? Are you ploughing savings into enhancing your strategy, creativity or ad spend?

  3. The essence of influencer marketing is its human-to-human relatability. Has your use of AI heightened this or diminished it?

  4. Will your AI use in influencer marketing help earn more trust in your brand or erode it?

Mistrust in AI

Gartner undertook two surveys in early 2023 into consumer sentiment towards AI. Both survey samples were very small (305 respondents in a May survey and 320 respondents for a February survey) however the responses offer a counter-balance to the unbridled excitement extended to AI within some quarters of our industry. 

Emily Weiss, Senior Principal Researcher in the Gartner Marketing Practice said of the surveys:

“Mistrust and lack of confidence in AI’s abilities will drive some consumers to seek out AI-free brands and interactions,” said Weiss. “A subsection of brands will shun AI and prioritize more human positioning. This ‘acoustic’ concept will be leveraged to distance brands from perceptions of AI-powered businesses as impersonal and homogeneous.”


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Dry January 

Congratulations to those of you who are doing Dry January - you’re more than halfway through it. 

A reminder, though, to sellers of alcohol products (that is, liquor above 0.5% ABV) about what you can’t say in ads mentioning Dry January.

  1. Don’t suggest in your ads that Dry January is boring, and people are better off getting ‘off their dial’ than suffering a month of abstinence. 

  2. Don’t imply or state that sobriety is too hard, and consuming alcohol is easy. 

  3. Remember that even if your product is low in calories, low in ABV, or anything else that might appeal to the “health conscious”, there are lots of restrictions about what you can and can’t say about your product.

These helpful tips have come from the ASA. Check out more advice, here

IMTB partners with PMW Unlocked

Performance Marketing World (PMW) has partnered this year with the Influencer Marketing Trade Body (IMTB) for its major conference - PMW Unlocked.

Held in London in early March, PMW Unlocked is a two-day conference and exhibition operated by the Haymarket Media Group title designed for marketers within influencer marketing, AI tech and data, and ecommerce. 

IMTB is set to chair the event’s Creator Stage, hosting a curated agenda of panel sessions, presentations and fireside chats with senior influencer marketers.

Italy clamps down on creators … but only those with 1m+ followers

Italian regulators are to crackdown on influencers - but notably only those who have more than 1 million followers, and who are posting in Italian and working with Italian brands.

Creators falling under the new legislation can be fined up to €600,000 for failing to effectively declare their ads as advertisements. 

73% of Italian influencers’ posts correctly disclosed

84,000 posts, videos, reels, and stories on Instagram, Youtube, and TikToks uploaded by 450 creators have been analysed by the Istituto per l´Autodisciplina Pubblicitaria (IAP) in a pilot project partnership with the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA).

From this analysis, 2,339 contents were identified as potentially advertising, leading to the cumulative findings: 

  • 73% of advertising content had correct disclosure, 

  • 17% had disclosure but was not appropriately placed, and the remaining 

  • 10% contravened the IAP Code by lacking any disclosure.

 You can download the full report in Italian here.

Logan Paul’s Cautionary Tale for creator-owned brands … part 2 

A year ago almost to the day  (Creator Briefing #88) we talked about Logan Paul's CryptoZoo failed venture and his subsequent mangled crisis management. I wrote about it here, too. 

Now the YouTuber-turned-boxer-turned businessman has said he’ll buy back the CrytoZoo NFTs, on the condition that fans who accept do not sue him.

The buy-back condition appears to be crucial to the timing of Paul’s offer. Why the change in heart now 13 months after influencer/investigator Coffeezilla called out CryptoZoo as a scam?

It’s likely an exercise in damage limitation. Logan Paul has been hit with a class action lawsuit over his allegedly fraudulent CryptoZoo NFT project. LA-based lawyer, Rob Freund, told TechCrunch that the buy-back programme could be Paul’s attempt at minimising damages.

“Class action lawsuits can be “devastating” for defendants, as damages can include what the plaintiff and class members initially lost, in addition to punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Freund suggested that by refunding NFTs in exchange for waiving claims against him, Paul can individually settle with class members, effectively minimizing the potential damages” [TechCrunch].

Creator-owned brands will continue to hit the headlines this year, as creators look to expand their revenue streams beyond solely being reliant on social media.

Creator fans will want to support their stars. They’ll be keen to try out any new product. In short, influencers supply both the distribution and the marketing firepower. Get the proposition right and you’ve got an opportunity for recurring revenue. For longevity in the space, the product has to be good, however.

CryptoZoo, however, is also a cautionary tale of the importance of marrying influence with aptitude.

MrBeast understood that for his namesake burgers to scale quickly he needed them to operate via ghost kitchens. The flipside of that meant that he couldn’t control the quality of the product. 

Jimmy Donaldson knew that if he burgers suck it’ll tarnish the reputation of his other brands including Feastibles. In June last year he started distancing himself from the virtual burger brand in order to limit the potential reputational hit. 

LVMH in talks with TikTok to limit dupes

LVMH is in discussions with TikTok on a plan to limit dupes - according to Bloomberg

The timing of the LVMH and TikTok talks could be to further amp TikTok Shop - the feature it launched last year in the US and which TT has plans to 10x in revenue this year to hit $17.5 billion.

“Dupes I’ve done it again”

Dupes - or duplicates - hit the headlines in March last year (see Creator Briefing #102). Driven by cost of living concerns consumers, notably GenZ, sought cheaper alternatives to legit luxury labels. 

Chris Beer​, data journalist at GWI refered to this at the time as “Frugal flexing” -  saying a key element of the “dupes” trend is showing off of products or lifestyles that look much more expensive than they actually are. #dupe has clocked up 6.7 billion views on TikTok #dupes has 3.9 billion views.

Political influence

The general elections this year will be the first on record significantly influenced by … influencer marketing. 

  • UK general election will be held in the second half of this year

  • US Presidential election takes place in November

  • European Parliament elections in June

This won’t be the first time influencers have been tapped for their access to the young vote but it will be the first set of elections where influencer marketing is baked into the strategic political campaigning. 

But who regulates political ads in the UK?

Not the ASA - at least for non-broadcast political advertising - such ads are exempt from the CAP code:

“7.1 Claims in marketing communications, whenever published or distributed, whose principal function is to influence voters in a local, regional, national or international election or referendum are exempt from the Code.”

Similarly electoral law doesn’t require claims in political campaigns to be truthful or factually accurate, but, according to the House of Commons Library “it is a crime to make or publish a false statement of fact about the personal character or conduct of a candidate.”

The Electoral Commission has considered the risks and challenges digital campaigns bring to the election and referendum rules. In its June 2018 report, Digital campaigning- increasing transparency for voters, the Commission made a series of recommendations, including: insisting on imprints on digital campaign material, increasing maximum fines, and giving the Commission greater powers to compel information from third parties.

DECLARATION: I lead the Influencer Marketing Trade Body which was appointed to the Committee of Advertising Practices in January last year. 

This leads us on to the next story … about deepfakes. 

Deepfakes and political influence

Fake BBC News website promoted by deep fake advertisements

143  deep-fake video advertisements impersonating UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak were created and paid to be promoted on Meta’s platform between 08 Dec. 2023 and 08 Jan. 2024 - according to research from Fenimore Harper Communications 

Funding for the ads originates from 23 different countries including Turkey, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States. 

I pre-empted the high level of high quality deepfakes flooding social media profiles ahead of the election cycle and the risk of manipulation they bring in my 2021 my chapter on virtual influencers for Routledge.  

Back then I called for global regulation to protect consumers from the potential harm these technological advances might bring.

How to perfect influencer outreach

The influencer marketing workflow is frontloaded - a lot of effort is expended during the identification, selection, and recruitment phases. Critically outreach is a nuanced skill. How best to approach potential influencers? Via email? Via DM - direct to them or via their talent agent? Should you automate the process or craft each outreach individually? 

Modash, an influencer discovery platform,  asked 51 influencer marketers how they approach their outreach to get the best results.

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