Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing, a phenomenon that has reshaped the advertising landscape, roots itself deeply in the basic human psychology of trust and social proof. This marketing strategy leverages the influence of individuals with a substantial following on social media or other digital platforms to promote products, brands, or campaigns. The evolution of influencer marketing is a fascinating journey from celebrity endorsements to the nuanced, digitally-driven practices we see today, highlighting a shift towards authenticity and relatability in brand communications.

The Early Days: Celebrity Endorsements
The precursor to modern influencer marketing can be traced back to celebrity endorsements, a practice that dates back to the 18th century. One of the earliest examples was when Wedgwood, a producer of pottery and chinaware, used royal endorsements in the 1760s to enhance its brand’s prestige. In the 20th century, this practice became mainstream, with celebrities from various domains endorsing everything from cigarettes to soft drinks, leveraging their mass appeal to influence consumer behaviors.

The Rise of Digital Platforms
The advent of the internet and social media platforms marked a pivotal shift in how people consumed media and interacted with each other. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and later TikTok, became new arenas for influence. Unlike traditional celebrities, the new wave of influencers often rose to fame through their content on these platforms, gaining loyal followings around niche interests ranging from beauty and fashion to gaming and beyond.

Democratization of Influence
What sets influencer marketing apart in the digital age is the democratization of influence. Not only well-known celebrities but also individuals with smaller, yet highly engaged followings, known as "micro-influencers," and even "nano-influencers," began to wield significant influence. These individuals often boast higher engagement rates, as their audiences find them more relatable and trustworthy compared to traditional celebrities. This shift has allowed brands to target specific demographics with unprecedented precision.

The Practice of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing involves a collaborative relationship between a brand and an influencer. The process typically begins with identifying the right influencers whose followers align with the brand’s target audience. Campaigns might range from sponsored content, where influencers create content featuring the brand, to brand ambassador programs, where influencers agree to endorse the brand over an extended period.

Transparency and authenticity are the cornerstones of successful influencer marketing. Regulatory bodies in many regions require influencers to disclose sponsored content, ensuring audiences are aware of the promotional nature of the content they consume. This transparency, coupled with an influencer's genuine affinity for the brand, helps maintain trust and effectiveness.

Measuring Success
The success of influencer marketing campaigns is measured through a variety of metrics, including reach, engagement rates, conversion rates, and ultimately, ROI (Return on Investment). The precise metrics prioritized can vary based on campaign goals, whether that's increasing brand awareness, driving sales, or enhancing brand reputation.

Challenges and Considerations
Influencer marketing is not without its challenges. Issues such as influencer fraud, where individuals artificially inflate their follower counts or engagement rates, can undermine campaign effectiveness. Additionally, mismatched partnerships between brands and influencers that lack genuine alignment can lead to audience skepticism.

The Future of Influencer Marketing
Looking forward, influencer marketing is poised for continued evolution. Trends suggest a growing emphasis on long-term partnerships over one-off campaigns, prioritizing relationships where influencers embody brand values and can serve as authentic brand ambassadors. Additionally, the rise of AI and technology, like deepfake technology and virtual influencers, introduces new opportunities and ethical considerations.

Moreover, platforms are continually evolving, and with them, the nature of influencer marketing. The rise of video content on platforms like TikTok, and the introduction of shopping features directly within social media platforms, underscore the increasing integration of commerce and content, offering fresh avenues for influencer campaigns.

Influencer marketing’s journey from the early days of celebrity endorsements to the nuanced, digitally driven phenomenon it is today illustrates a broader shift in marketing towards authenticity, engagement, and direct connection with audiences. By leveraging the trust and rapport influencers have with their followers, brands can engage with consumers in a more personal and effective manner. However, the key to successful influencer marketing lies in genuine partnerships, transparency, and a deep understanding of the target audience. As the digital landscape continues to evolve, so too will the strategies brands use to connect with consumers, with influencer marketing remaining a pivotal element of the marketing mix.

Here are a couple of influencer case studies on CROWN’s website:  influencer marketing case study #1 and influencer marketing case study #2.

The debate over whether advertising (ad) agencies or public relations (PR) agencies are better equipped to handle influencer marketing is a nuanced one. Both types of agencies possess unique strengths that can be leveraged in influencer marketing, but they approach the strategy with different philosophies and tools. To understand which might have the edge in executing influencer marketing effectively, it's essential to delve into the core competencies and strategic approaches of each.

Ad Agencies: Masters of Creative Campaigns


Creative Expertise: Ad agencies typically excel in crafting compelling narratives and visuals, which are crucial for engaging campaigns. Their ability to produce high-quality, creative content can significantly enhance influencer collaborations.
Strategic Planning: With a strong focus on campaign objectives and KPIs, ad agencies are adept at creating structured campaigns that aim to achieve specific goals, whether it's brand awareness, engagement, or direct sales.
Media Buying and Analytics: Ad agencies often have in-house capabilities for media buying and analytics, allowing for the efficient allocation of budgets and detailed measurement of campaign performance.


Influencer marketing through ad agencies might lean heavily towards content that, while highly polished, could sometimes risk appearing less authentic or organic from the influencer's usual content style, potentially impacting audience trust.

PR Agencies: Building Relationships and Authenticity


Relationship Building: PR agencies specialize in building and maintaining relationships, not just with media outlets, but increasingly with influencers. Their approach to influencer marketing often involves fostering genuine connections between the brand and the influencer, leading to more authentic endorsements.

Crisis Management and Brand Reputation: PR agencies are skilled in managing public perception and dealing with crises. They can guide influencers in aligning with the brand's message and handling potential backlash in a way that maintains or even improves brand reputation.

Understanding of Earned Media: PR professionals excel in generating earned media, an invaluable skill in influencer marketing, as the goal is often to create buzz and encourage organic sharing beyond paid partnerships.


PR-driven influencer campaigns might sometimes lack the creative flair and strategic marketing focus that ad agencies bring, potentially leading to content that, while authentic, might not be as visually engaging or strategically targeted.

Making the Case

Ad Agencies: If the primary goal of an influencer marketing campaign is to create visually stunning, creative content that captures attention and is highly targeted towards specific marketing goals, an ad agency might be the better choice. Their expertise in content creation, strategic planning, and media buying can ensure the campaign not only looks good but also reaches the right audience effectively and provides measurable ROI.

PR Agencies: For brands prioritizing long-term relationships with influencers, authenticity, and brand reputation, a PR agency could have the upper hand. Their focus on building genuine connections, coupled with their expertise in managing brand perception and leveraging earned media, can lead to influencer partnerships that feel more authentic and trustworthy to the audience, potentially yielding longer-term benefits for the brand.

The Verdict
The question of who does influencer marketing better isn't black and white. The choice between an ad agency and a PR agency should be guided by the brand's specific objectives for influencer marketing, the type of influencer content that aligns with the brand's identity, and the long-term strategy for brand positioning..