Seth Jacobs (pictured) is a talent manager at Brillstein Entertainment Partners, representing top digital native talent like NataliesOutlet, Carli Bybel and the Funk Bros. A 15-year veteran of digital media and entertainment, Seth has expertise and deep operational experience in talent management, business development, and branded entertainment content packaging and sales. Prior to joining Brillstein in 2017, Seth was a senior executive at Victorious and EQAL, a pioneer digital media agency that created editorial properties for lifestyle talent including: Lauren Conrad, Michelle Phan and Jennifer Lopez. Seth is also an attorney and got his start in digital working on the iconic web series “lonelygirl15.”
In this week’s column, Jacobs discusses the growing popularity of influencer marketing and why he believes it is important for creators to branch out beyond their webcam.
Influencer marketing is growing in popularity, why? And what is your reaction to the claim that this spike in popularity is just a short fad?
Brand marketers and decision makers at ad agencies see how strong and unique the direct connection is between digital talent and their audiences. Leveraging this deep connection is a powerful proposition for brands, especially if the talent has a good team around them supporting the campaigns on the business and execution side. I’ve been working at the intersection of digital talent and brands for ten years. It’s the furthest thing from a fad given how creative and impacting these campaigns are now and have evolved over the years. In fact, most commercial endorsement deals with traditional talent now have foundational digital elements.
What do you think the influencer market will look like in 2019 in comparison to now? How would you like to see it evolve?
It will continue to grow and evolve. Decision makers at brands and agencies will push the envelope of these integrations to stand out in the market and deliver results. I’d like to see more brands fund new IP and creator driven productions. ‘Brand as studio’ has the potential disrupt to the traditional Hollywood system, and one that would be a lot of fun to see come to life. There’s real value in these formats, not unlike a TV show or film. Hollister’s The Carpe Life which featured the Funk Bros. is a great, recent example. Short of this, I’d love to see brands continue to give more and more freedom to digital talent to be the creative brain behind campaigns as they are in the best position to articulate what will resonate with their fans. This freedom breeds creative risk taking and authenticity which is at the root of a good creator led campaign.
Is it necessary for influencers to do more than just various types of vlogs (e.g. branch out to standalone businesses) to remain successful and why? Do you encourage your clients to establish their reach beyond the webcam?
It really depends on what the talent wants. My POV is if you want an enduring and successful career, and you are really willing to put in the work to get there, you cannot be dependent on any single platform, or even a single medium. Part of how I define my job as a manager is to challenge my clients to push their comfort zones and test new waters once they have found their stride creatively and built an audience. And that’s the beauty of this industry. You can do different things and reach different audiences in building a great business. So why not go for it? I feel strongly the only way to evolve your business is to diversify.
What are the most common mistakes you see influencers make when trying to establish themselves in the industry?
On the business side, not surrounding yourself with a team so you can focus on the creative, and the team can help with the business strategy and execution. The most successful digital creators all have a manager, agent, and entertainment attorney they trust and are aligned with. On the creative side, not having a core platform and audience before expanding. “Too much too soon” is a recipe for a diluted brand and burn out. Finding that content + audience fit is essential.
Recently –especially on services such as YouTube Red– influencers have been casted in scripted programming. Do you think this trend will continue, and is scripted content the right fit for creators?
The trend will continue as creators have a valuable spotlight to shine on a production in their audiences. Whether a producer should base a casting decision on a marketing lever is not for me to decide. Overall, scripted content is the right fit for creators who want to act. Many creators have acting coaches and put time into improv classes. If these productions afford them an opportunity to hone their craft and have some fun I’m all for it.