Branded content is a priority for Instagram in 2019 – but measurement is seriously lacking.
“That’s one of the things I wish you guys would work on,” said Edlynne Laryea, director for global Neutrogena digital transformation and sustainability, speaking at an Instagram media event Tuesday.
Although Instagram claims that 68% of its users choose to interact with influencers – and 80% proactively follow brand accounts – downstream metrics and ad attribution have a long way to go.
“I don’t want to hope – I want to know,” Laryea said, noting that Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena’s parent company, is a Nielsen shop that runs extensive mixed-media modeling and attribution tests before spending money.
If Instagram could provide better measurement – and the ability to tie engagement to sales – “I would love you,” Laryea said. “We have a lot of channels we invest in, and it would be great to have concrete measures for branded content.”
Since most of Johnson & Johnson’s sales come from partners, closing the loop between branded content and purchases would convince traditional stakeholders at J&J that Instagram works.
A company like Knotch could be used to track content marketing initiatives, including sentiment, but Knotch doesn’t work on Instagram, Laryea said.
At the other end of the spectrum, sock startup Bombas is more willing to accept effectiveness on faith, at least in some cases.
Depending on the KPIs set for a particular influencer partnership, Bombas may care about classic measures of success and “sometimes we don’t,” said Emily Hofstetter, the brand’s VP of business development and communications, pointing to a recent Instagram collaboration between Bombas and “Sesame Street.”
The duo debuted a collection of Sesame Street-themed socks last year to spread awareness about homelessness. (Socks are the most requested item at homeless shelters, Hofstetter said.)
“If we get no ROI back from it, that’s OK, because we just want to tell this story,” she said.
But she would welcome Instagram opening itself up to more third-party social monitoring tools so Bombas could “understand what’s working and what’s not” without relying on Instagram’s basic homegrown metrics.
The same desire holds true for the creators.
Katie Sturino, a body positivity and beauty blogger – “Oh, and I also have some Instagram-famous dogs,” she quipped – could strike more and better brand deals if she could prove the value of her content with hard metrics, particularly related to Stories, since its ephemeral nature poses a measurement challenge.
“I’d like more analytics around cookies … I don’t know what the right term is, but I see my friend make so much money on her blog because of links, but I’m a Story lover – Instagram Stories –which is where I put all of my effort,” Sturino said. “And I just realized that once my story expires, I’m not getting any tracking.”
Although there were no measurement-related announcements at its Tuesday event, Instagram updated its branded content ads product, in beta since last year, so advertisers can promote influencers’ branded posts beyond the influencers’ own audiences.