The Survey that Shocked Us.
According to a survey from GroupHigh, more than 68% of influential publishers say they want to work directly with brands instead of agencies and networks. GroupHigh asked for feedback from 4,000 of the top publishers in their network. These are the publishers who consistently get approached by brands to work on campaigns. They specifically looked for publishers who were being pitched the most often through their platform.
One point GroupHigh made is that agencies often do best when they focus on managing long-term partnerships with publishers . So rather than just one sponsored post, they have ongoing campaigns – some are up to a year long.
From our perspective at Monumetric, there are benefits to going through an agency that may have been overlooked in the survey. Communication is one. Agencies can also fill a role by handling a lot of the back and forth that can be quite intense when you work with a large number of bloggers. Of course, an organization like Monumetric can also bring new opportunities and capabilities to publishers they might not otherwise get.
5 Reasons Working with an Agency is Good for Brands and Publishers
1. Agencies cut through the noise and find the best pitches.
As publishers who gets pitched frequently know, some good pitches get overlooked. You’re busy and blogging has so many facets that are time-consuming. Sometimes more work goes into managing a site than the creative and writing part. Agencies can help by managing this part of your work with you. This part of the agency job aligns with our mission at Monumetric, which is to Save Publishers Time.
Publishers in this survey get offers all the time to work with brands. What we’ve heard from them is that it’s difficult to go through all that email every day. Pretty soon every offer starts to sound the same. It takes publishers a lot of time to weed through it to find the offers they know they want to pursue. You can miss the best offers. It can be worth giving up a cut because it’s so time-consuming for publishers to wade through the massive number of emails.
2. Brands get to work with publishers who deliver results.
Another time constraint is finding the right fit for both the agency (brand) and publisher so that there is a positive ROI on both sides. Brands have told us there is a huge difference between performance with publishers. They don’t see consistency. The publisher with the highest pageviews may not be the best publisher for a particular campaign. Agencies manage the criteria and the accountability part to make sure everyone meet the requirements. It’s a lot of work to make sure it all works (publishers do the social media shares, include the right information in the post, etc). The agency can fill that role.
It’s in everyone’s best interest that a campaign performs well. If a publisher doesn’t get results or is not a fit for other reasons, they aren’t picked for future campaigns. In other words, the agency has a view that an individual publisher doesn’t have and can see what works and what doesn’t. An agency selects publishers who they know will perform and selects the publishers. They also see the overall trends of what works because they’re working with a large number of campaigns.
Nate Bradshaw, director of business development at Monumetric, shared an example that illustrates this. He drew from a recent sponsored posts campaign (with an affiliate marketing piece).
Publishers were asked to write a review and that’s all many did. However, other publishers wrote a series of posts. First, they wrote a product review. Then they wrote a general list piece related to the brand. In the second post, the product is listed as number one on the list and links back to the first post. Last of all, they wrote a lifestyle-type post which told a story about their life with how they use the product worked into the post (again, linking to the other posts). The publishers who put more into the relationship got better results both for them and for the brand.
4. Agencies show results with reports that most brands want.
Agencies have the capacity to give reporting that most brands want to show results of campaigns. Compiling all of that data and proving ROI is time-consuming and hard. An agency represents the site to the brand and is their advocate to show how great their sponsored post was.
Agencies have tools and tracking that can accurately gather performance and draw out success stories from a campaign. Monumetric can serve and report on the display ads piece to further reinforce the message of the posts. This extra level of reporting improves the chances that publishers get future work from that brand and possibly extra publicity too.
5. Larger upsell and campaign possibilities.
You can often get more out of brands by working through an agency. If publishers work with brands directly, they may not know all of the other types of services they could offer to brands. By working with an agency who has a past relationship with the brand, the agency is more aware of their budget and the brand’s goals. A sponsored post could turn into a prolonged ambassador program, extra PR, or even a live event. It could include an affiliate marketing piece so publishers get ongoing revenue for their work.
While it may not make sense for every publisher to only work with agencies, we’ve learned from experience and from our own influencer network, the value of being represented by an agency.
After considering some of these points, would you rather work directly with a brand, with an agency, or both? We’d love to hear some of your experiences below.