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Marketers need to focus on authenticity to beat influencer fraud

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Marketers need to focus on authenticity to beat influencer fraud

By Aaron Brooks, Co-founder of mobile content and influencer marketing platform, Vamp

The Times recently reported that influencer marketing fraud costs sponsors, on average, £1 billion each year. This waste is attributed to social creators with inauthentic audiences. Brands are pouring their marketing funds into influencer collaborations which are broadcast to bot accounts, rather than receptive, engaged social audiences.

For anyone close to the influencer marketing industry, fake followers are old news. They are the unfortunate but inevitable hangers on that come with large social followings. Respectable influencers will regularly and ruthlessly delete them, knowing what a negative impact silent and inactive followers can have on the performance of their posts and their reputation. Manually checking new followers and gauging their authenticity is necessary admin for a social content creator – and the only way to keep the value in their followings.

On the other hand, some influencers still intentionally buy fake followers to enhance their follower count. It’s something that content and influencer marketing platforms – and Instagram themselves – have been cracking down on for years. The fact that someone has slapped a valuation on its impact has brought it back to focus.

Looking beyond reach 

The practise of buying fake followers originated with brands’ obsession with reach. The bigger audience an influencer had, the more interest they got and higher fees they received. Attempts to ‘game the system’ were made by smaller influencers trying to get a crack at the big brand endorsement deals.

It didn’t take long for the wheels to come off this half-baked plan. As marketers realised engagement (likes and comments) was actually more valuable than reach, influencers realised that high volumes of silent and inactive followers were in fact causing their engagement rates to plummet. Fake followers can’t mimic the same engagement as a loyal and genuine following, built up over years of posting.

Despite this, some marketers remain hopelessly devoted to reach. I have no doubt that those still ploughing their budgets into influencers with large followings, without doing due diligence on whether they are actually real, are losing money.

Luckily there are no shortage of amazing influencers to partner with. There are just as many creative, professional and authentic influencers that will deliver results, as there are wannabes with falsely inflated followings. A considered selection process is key.

Focussing on solid ROI

A genuine following should be the minimum requirement for brands partnering with influencers.

Advanced analytics can now tell a brand where an influencer’s following is based and how old they are, so marketers can target their customers with precision. Relevancy is essential for an effective campaign. The focus shouldn’t be how many people see the posts, but rather how many of the right people see the posts.

Brands should also be aiming higher when it comes to the results of an influencer marketing collaboration. Reach and engagement should come as standard, a natural byproduct of a campaign that achieves solid return on investment, sales uplift or app downloads. These are far more valuable metrics to focus on and diverts attention away from the size of an influencers following.

The end of Instagram likes?

As the influencer marketing industry matures, Instagram is moving the goal posts too. Their recent trial to hide likes from public view caused a stir in the marketing press. While it’s only being tested in a selected number of countries, many asked whether it was ‘the end for influencer marketing’. But I believe it will make for a more authentic practise.

Firstly, it will force agencies and campaigns that have pinned their success on empty vanity metrics, such as likes, to up their game. Visible engagement can not and should not be used to justify an influencer campaign. Let’s look at the real, transparent return on investment.

I think it will also place a renewed focus on quality and individuality. Creators will no longer feel constrained by pressure to chase likes and will be free to make content that feels more authentic. Content that’s braver and doesn’t follow a tried and tested aesthetic. This renaissance in creativity is likely to spark a surge in engagement across the board. Weary social users – increasingly feeling as if they have seen it all before – crave this authenticity. They want to see something new.

Keeping the industry authentic

Brand ambassadors have been – and will always be – an effective marketing tactic. Thankfully software is becoming much more sophisticated and adept in spotting fraudulent accounts. But to preserve the power of the channel, all parties involved must uphold their responsibility to keep the industry clean. Just as influencers monitor their followings, brands must be just as diligent with their choice of partners. Do your background checks. Make sure that their engagement rate correlates with their following, or enlist the help of a platform.

With more conversion functions from Instagram – like shoppable tags and ‘swipe up to buy’ –  the potential for influencer marketing is huge. Prioritise authenticity, practise due diligence and you can be sure your efforts will be rewarded.

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Betting on death of petrol cars, Volvo to go all electric by 2030

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Betting on death of petrol cars, Volvo to go all electric by 2030 1

By Nick Carey and Helena Soderpalm

LONDON (Reuters) – Volvo’s entire car line-up will be fully electric by 2030, the Chinese-owned company said on Tuesday, joining a growing number of carmakers planning to phase out fossil-fuel engines by the end of this decade.

“I am totally convinced there will no customers who really want to stay with a petrol engine,” Volvo Chief Executive Håkan Samuelsson told reporters when asked about future demand for electric vehicles. “We are convinced that an electric car is more attractive for customers.”

The Swedish carmaker said 50% of its global sales should be fully-electric cars by 2025 and the other half hybrid models.

Owned by Hangzhou-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Volvo said it will launch a new family of electric cars in the next few years, all of which will be sold online only. Volvo will unveil its second all-electric model, the C40, later on Tuesday.

Samuelsson said Volvo will include wireless upgrades and fixes for its new electric models – an approach pioneered by electric carmaker Tesla Inc.

Carmakers are racing to switch to zero-emission models as they face CO2 emissions targets in Europe and China, plus looming bans in some countries on fossil fuel vehicles.

Last month, Ford Motor Co said its line-up in Europe will be fully electric by 2030, while Tata Motors unit Jaguar Land Rover said its luxury Jaguar brand will be entirely electric by 2025 and the carmaker will launch electric models of its entire line-up by 2030.

And last November, luxury carmaker Bentley, owned by Germany’s Volkswagen, said its models will be all electric by 2030.

Electrification is expensive for carmakers and as electric vehicles have fewer moving parts, employment in the auto industry is expected to shrink.

Last week, the head of Daimler AG’sDE> truck division said going electric will cost thousands of jobs in the company’s powertrain plants in Germany.

Volvo said it will invest heavily in online sales channels to “radically reduce” the complexity of its model line-up and provide customers with transparent pricing.

The carmaker’s global network of 2,400 traditional bricks-and-mortar dealers will remain open to service vehicles and to help customers make online orders.

Via volvocars.com customers will be able to choose from a simplified range of pre-configured electric Volvos for quick delivery – but they will still be able to order custom-made models.

(Reporting By Nick Carey; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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Oil extends losses on worry over possible supply increase from OPEC

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Oil extends losses on worry over possible supply increase from OPEC 2

By Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Oil prices fell more than 1% on Tuesday, extending losses that began last week, as investors unwound long positions on concern that OPEC may agree to increase global supply in a meeting this week and Chinese demand may be slipping.

Brent crude dropped 78 cents, or 1.2%, to $62.91 a barrel by 0138 GMT, after losing 1.1% the previous day. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude slid 74 cents, or 1.2%, to $59.90 a barrel, having lost 1.4% on Monday.

Investors are worried the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, will boost oil output, said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, general manager of research at Nissan Securities.

“Oil prices remained under pressure as investors were making position adjustments ahead of the OPEC meeting,” he said.

The group meets on Thursday and could discuss allowing as much as 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude back into the market.

OPEC oil output fell in February as a voluntary cut by Saudi Arabia added to reductions agreed to under the previous OPEC+ pact, a Reuters survey found, ending a run of seven consecutive monthly increases.

Market sentiment was also dampened by weak manufacturing data out of China, Nissan Securities’ Kikukawa said.

China’s factory activity growth slipped to a nine-month low in February, which may curtail Chinese crude demand and pressure oil prices.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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Brexodus from City of London to the EU slows

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Brexodus from City of London to the EU slows 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – The shift in financial staff and assets from the City of London to the European Union because of Brexit has eased after Britain completed its full departure from the bloc, a tracker from consultants EY showed on Tuesday.

Financial services are not included in the EU-UK trade deal that came into effect on Jan. 1, largely cutting off the City from the EU.

Financial firms in Britain have opened subsidiaries in the EU, with Dublin and Luxembourg the most popular destinations, EY said.

“After the major hurdle of standing up new EU hubs, the days of significant swathes of asset and job relocation announcements appear to have passed and will likely be replaced by the slower yet ongoing movement of people and assets to Europe for compliance purposes,” Omar Ali, a financial services managing partner at EY, said.

EY said in its latest Brexit Tracker that job moves have risen to almost 7,600, up by 100 since October, while the number of new hires in Europe since Britain’s EU referendum in 2016 remains flat at around 2,850 new jobs.

The loss is a small fraction of total jobs in British financial services and is far lower than initial predictions.

There was also an incremental rise in the relocation of assets, now totalling almost 1.3 trillion pounds ($1.82 trillion), up from 1.2 trillion pounds previously, EY said.

On Jan. 4, more than 8 billion euros ($9.63 billion) in daily share trading shifted from London to Amsterdam and Paris, followed by chunks of trading in euro-denominated swaps.

The EU is targeting the clearing of euro swaps, which London dominates, although EU’s Ali said splitting markets would not benefit Europe.

“Fragmentation of European financial services will serve to only benefit the U.S. and Asia,” he said. Some of the swaps trading that has left London has moved to New York.

EY calculated its figures from public statements by 222 of the largest banks, insurers, fintechs and asset managers since June 2016 to the end of February 2021. A quarter, or 57 firms, said Brexit has or will have a negative impact on them, up from 49 in January 2020.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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