We trust other people’s opinion rather than ads.

It’s not only a matter of preference but also an industry shift. We ignore most of the ads on the internet. Whether it’s thanks to an Ad-Blocker or due to the common ad-blindness. We skip ads and trust reviews and endorsements.

We get to know new products and services through people we trust. It happens with friends and family and also with our favorite social mavens. When they mention the restaurant they visited or a new outfit they tried, we get intrigued. We become curious.

That’s why brands are looking for influencers. Their content lands organically in our feeds and ends with higher engagement rates and wider exposure.

With that baseline, the question marketers ask is what part of their resources should they allocate to influencer marketing? Which part of the budget to dedicate to paid media vs. earned media?

The Paid vs. Earned Media Debate

There’s a great debate about the value of earned media. Some marketers say it’s worth the alternative costs (CPC, CPM, etc.). Other marketers don’t want to hear about it. They say that if money is involved in the relationship with the influencer, you haven’t “earned” that media. As Pam Moore puts it, “If you are paying for travel, accommodations, fancy dinners and entertainment it is not earned media.”

We won’t argue here in favor of any of the sides, but we do want to have a benchmark for the monetary value influencers bring. To get this number we’ve studied one interesting case that we want to share here.

We recently analyzed a major fashion event and looked into the influencers who made a difference over there. On this blog post, we would like to put a spotlight on one influencer in particular: Tyler Oakley. We’ll see how Oakley’s presence in the event made a difference and quantify the $ ROI value for brands he mentioned.

A Surprising Help from an Influencer

The New York Men’s Fashion Week was wrapped up earlier this month. It hosted 60 shows by known brands along with emerging designers.

The high-profile event, known as the NYFWM, got coverage by journalists, bloggers, and social fashion gurus. 50k mentions later, there was a clear picture of which brand got most of the attention. Tommy Hilfiger reached 1st place with 1,600 mentions, way more than the runner-up, Michael Kors, with only 1,200 mentions.

Tommy Hilfiger didn’t get there by chance. Its way to the top was paved with the surprising help of Tyler Oakley.

Who is Tyler Oakley?

Tyler is a YouTube sensation. He started uploading videos way back in 2007 and since then grew his fan base to millions. He’s got 8 million YouTube subscribers, along with 6m on Instagram, 5m on Twitter and 3m on Facebook. He is a phenomenon. His videos cover all sorts of topics, from LGBT rights, to interview with One Direction. He is funny, witty, and masters the art of YouTubing.

Tyler visited the New York Men’s Fashion Week and enjoyed the spotlights. But his presence was not like anyone else in the show. 4 out of the top 10 most popular NYFWM pieces of content were made by him.

This is amazing, considering that all the brands there were using their best social tactics to draw attention to new collections. Let’s see the numbers:

Tyler had 2,400 mentions during NYFWM. His pictures and tweets reached 9 million (!) fans. The most shared tweet of Tommy Hilfiger during the week wasn’t from catwalks but one featuring Tyler and Tommy Hilfiger himself.

Analyzing Tyler’s demographics reveals that Tommy Hilfiger couldn’t wish for a better influencer to be seen with. Tyler’s fans are from New York, LA and London, quite similar to Tommy Hilfiger’s. More than half of them are in the ages of 18-24 – just like Tommy Hilfiger’s. The similarity goes on and on, but the picture is clear: we have a match.

1 Influencer = $131k in Earned Media

Ok. Enough with social stats. Let’s talk about money.

How much was this exposure with Tyler Oakley worth for Tommy Hilfiger and the fashion week organizers?

The average CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) in the fashion vertical is $1.61, according to this Monetize Pros’ research.

Tyler’s content reached 8.9 million people. This figure is not some general impressions number but actual engagement with his content. This makes the fashion week’s direct earned media worth $14,329. But we shouldn’t stop here because an endorsement from Tyler is worth so much more than any ad you’ll see.

92% of consumers trust recommendations from others over branded content, such as ads. We multiplied Tyler’s exposure by the conversion factor, which is 9.2. That sums up NYFWM’s earned media from Tyler at $131,826.

earned media value formula

Put the Money Where your Results Are

Opinion leaders like Tyler are priceless for brands. They advocate in favor of the brand without being pushy or over-promoting. With such grand outcomes as seen at the NYFWM, it’s clear that marketers need to allocate more resources to influencer marketing and enjoy the earned media.

With the major shift in online advertising, influencers serve brands a solution. They offer brands a way to stop throwing money on outdated marketing tactics and observe the new way to reach their audience.

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