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U.S. Marketers: Influencer and Content Marketing Messages Demonstrate Strongest Year-to-Year Effectiveness Gains

2018 “State of the Creator Economy” Study provides deep examination of Creators, Marketers, and Consumers

November 1, 2018 – ORLANDO, FL – As social media has moved from a “shiny new thing” to an integral element of everyday life, influencer marketing has maintained its chart-topping strength as an effective form of marketing messaging in the minds of marketers and consumers alike.  These and other industry-relevant findings have been revealed in IZEA’s 2018 “State of the Creator Economy” report, commissioned by IZEA Worldwide, Inc. (NASDAQ: IZEA), operator of IZEAx®, the premier online marketplace connecting brands and publishers with influential content creators, and conducted in partnership with research firms The Right Brain Consumer Consulting, Lightspeed GMI, and Research Now.

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The study, now in its eighth year and previously known as “The State of Sponsored Social,” is the industry-leading independent view of both the influencer and content marketing categories from the vantage points of creators, consumers, and marketers.

The 2018 study shed light on the impact of the maturation of social media as a part of contemporary culture and the seeming societal impact of widely-discussed topical issues related to media and privacy.

“This year’s learning must be interpreted through both a broad cultural lens and a narrow marketing-specific lens,” says Jana O’Brien, principal at The Right Brain and chief consultant on the study.  “We identified three broad trends that likely shaped the 2018 findings: social media maturation, natural selection, and cultural scrutinization.  Social media have clearly matured and become an integral part of everyday life rather than a ‘new thing.’  As a result, consumers seem to be naturally selecting their preferred platforms, picking and choosing which social media best fit into their lives and focusing more on those.  And third, in the wake of some shaken trust in all media sources, consumers are scrutinizing all marketing messages more than in any previous wave of our study.”


Against this broad backdrop, the study showed that influencer and content marketing retain perceptual strengths in the minds of both marketers and consumers, with key findings that include:

  • Within a general consumer-perceived decline in the effectiveness of all types of marketing messages, influencer marketing messages remain top-ranked in effectiveness within the full spectrum of marketing approaches among both consumers and marketers. Both influencer and content marketing messages also were seen by marketers as having made the strongest year-to-year effectiveness gains, increasing by more than 40 points as reflected by the Message Effectiveness Momentum measure.
  • Content marketing seems to absorb the overall image of its parent medium, performing as well or better than traditional advertising in the same medium in consumers’ minds and better in the minds of marketers. Using a credible or well-known source to create content marketing messages enhances consumer message impact.
  • The opportunity for consumer engagement in content marketing is rich, as the average U.S. and Canadian consumer engages online in 14 of the 20 diverse subjects measured in the study, with monthly or bimonthly engagement for most topics.
  • More than 50 percent of surveyed marketers’ companies now allocate budgets for both influencer and content marketing, with the median budget level edging up by two percent year-over-year and greater increases in budgets of $700K to $4.99M range.

“The four-year trends show steady perceptual gains for Influencer Marketing, while at the same time, traditional advertising approaches show a continued flat line or downward effectiveness trend line,” said Ryan Schram, Chief Operating Officer of IZEA. “We believe this demonstrates an incredible opportunity for brands and creators alike to connect with consumers by developing engaging, sharable content in the years ahead. Authentic, original content is what is driving results for Marketers and engaging Consumers.”

This year’s study also revealed insights related to other business topics on the minds of contemporary marketers:

  • Achieving industry-wide compliance with disclosure guidelines continues to be a challenge. While most content creators remain aware of the guidelines, this is far from the case for U.S. marketers’ understanding of FTC guidelines or Canadian marketers’ understanding of ASC guidelines. Again this year, nearly 3 in 10 content creators have been asked not to disclose compensation by their clients.
  • Ad blocking software usage is pervasive among consumers, far more present on computer desktops (56 percent) and laptops (55 percent) than on hand-held devices (roughly 30 percent on tablets and mobile phones). Most marketers say ad blocking does affect their marketing thinking at least somewhat, with the most prominent impact being reduced use of banner advertising.

A summary version of the 2018 “State of the Creator Economy” study is available today for free download in the Research section of the IZEA website:

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