Consumer demands for more authenticity and transparency in brand marketing and messaging catapulted the influencer marketing industry into a top-tier comms strategy, which has grown exponentially over the years, and in fact has spurred its own content-creating business model. But as the practice grew on its own terms, and without any real oversight or regulation, the authenticity started to become questionable in many cases as ethics controversies involving the value and real costs for brands began to swirl, and these issues have also only grown.
At the same time, another black eye emerged on the influencer industry when it became known that, as in many other industries including PR, only certain influencers (certain meaning white) were enjoying the full financial bounty of their efforts, and this pay inequity issue has also gained voice more recently. And now, in response to these increasingly glaring problems, a cluster of comms associations has issued new industry guidelines to establish boundaries and return the influencer initiative to its wholly authentic beginnings.
The new Influencer Pay Equity Guide, the joint effort of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), PR Council, and their members—is the first collaboration of its kind to address the lack of transparency within the influencer marketing supply chain and the reported pay gap between white and BIPOC influencers. The guide offers an actionable roadmap for marketers committed to equitable compensation and greater transparency in the $34 billion influencer industry.
The ANA spearheaded this cross-industry initiative in response to recent studies that indicate a 29 percent pay gap between white and BIPOC influencers, convening marketers from major brands including Target, Bayer Consumer Health, Nationwide Insurance, Paramount, Wells Fargo and Unilever and key agency leaders from Belle Communication, M Booth, MSL Group, IZEA and Horizon Media.
While the roots of pay inequity are complex and multifaceted, a major contributor is the lack of transparency within the influencer marketing supply chain
Influencer marketing often requires involvement from multiple influencer platforms, social platforms, and agency partners to execute campaigns. With this complexity, brands can lack full visibility into influencer payment, which prevents marketers from ensuring equitable pay across their various brands and influencer partnerships.
By providing considerations that span from campaign planning through campaign execution, the ANA aims to combat this lack of transparency, eliminate the pay gap, and help provide clearer benchmarking of campaign performance and ROI particularly for marketers executing campaigns across multiple brands and lines of business.
“This collaboration and Guide will help ensure more fair, equitable, and transparent practices when partnering with influencers, who fuel growth for marketers and our industry,” said Bob Liodice, ANA’s CEO, in a news release.
“During a moment when many are stepping back from diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, this partnership represents our industry’s steadfast commitment to DE&I. It’s critical for our workforce and our work,” added Kim Sample, president at the PR Council, in the release.
The report provides a framework that marketers can use with their influencer marketing partners across every stage of partnership:
- Campaign planning: How to ensure equity from the start with diverse teams that represent diverse voices, perspectives, and experiences.
- Evaluating risk: How to anticipate, mitigate, and properly prepare for potential negative responses when engaging diverse or marginalized creators.
- Exclusivity clauses: How to establish agreements that are beneficial to brands while not unduly restricting an influencer’s livelihood
- Usage rights: How to establish clear and fair payment terms for ongoing content usage as brands increasingly incorporate influencer-generated content into broader marketing campaigns.
- Compensation: Additional factors beyond influencer reach, follower count, and audience size that should be considered when calculating equitable compensation.
- Contracts: How to develop influencer agreements that are specific and fair, and considerations for avoiding common contract missteps.