Grant Deken is the co-founder and CEO of Grapvine, an influencer marketing platform that enables consumer brands to find and book content creators for YouTube and Instagram sponsorships. During his time at Grapevine Deken co-facilitated venture funding totaling more than $2.5m and led the product and engineering team from pre-product to seven figure revenues.
In this week’s “5 Questions,” Deken explains the importance of influencers, and which data points one should consider when trying to optimize reach and engagement of branded content.
During your time in the industry, what have you noticed to be the biggest issues influencers face when working with advertisers?
Successful engagements always come down to making sure the right expectations are set on both sides. Some influencers are naturally good at working with advertisers. They approach it like a partnership, and they want the outcome to be successful. The ones who tend to struggle approach it in a more “one and done” fashion. They struggle to empathize with the brand’s goals and concerns. We really push to ensure that our influencers are delivering quality and authenticity because we know it works well for the creator, the brand, and the audience.
There have been rumors that the age of the influencer is just about dead. What is your counter argument to this assumption?
I think now is actually the best time to be a creator. There are more people consuming digital content than ever before. There are so many ways for creators to monetize their content. More than a third of millennials have bought something they saw in a sponsored post and new research further suggests that Gen Z is even more engrossed in influencer content than millennials. The way influencer content is consumed and sponsored will continue to evolve, but brands who don’t have influencer as a key part of
their marketing stack are missing out.
What are the most important data points to look at when trying to optimize reach and engagement for branded content?
People often focus too much on vanity metrics like “total reach”. You want to find creators with consistent distribution and high audience engagement. You should compare engagement behavior between branded and unbranded content. Don’t look at averages, look at medians, and limit your analysis to
recently published content — 90 days or so. We generally steer advertisers towards up and coming creators whose audiences are really fresh and highly engaged.
In 2015 Grapevine’s viewership was made up of about 95% women, what would you say are a couple behaviors you see in terms of responsiveness to ads and engagement? Do you see any differences among the behavior of other demos?
We had a few thousand creators in our network when that article was written; it was mostly beauty vloggers. We have more than 125,000 now across a range of demos and industries. Generally speaking, people like to discover and try new products, and YouTube is one of the best ways to introduce those products to consumers. It’s the perfect combination of show and tell mixed with the emotional connection that a creator has with their audience. Results can dip when creators over-saturate their audience with
every sponsorship they can get. Because we track “intent to buy” on all of our sponsored content we can see when someone is doing too many sponsorships and help them course correct.
If an influencer can potentially get a much higher return from contacting an advertiser directly, what is the benefit of going through Grapevine?
Creators can charge whatever price they want on Grapevine. In addition to that they get our full suite of tools and services to help them win. That includes access to hundreds of pre-qualified opportunities from brands, addressing any legal issues with major brands who have complicated vendor requirements, holding payments in Escrow for creators, providing advice and guidance from talent and account management teams, and so on. We’re able to do all of that without locking them into exclusives or taking a percentage of all their ad revenue. Here is what creators are saying about us.