Marketers take note…your best investment is in the creator economy, by Whalar’s Marco Bertozzi

By Marco Bertozzi, President, Whalar EMEA.

The creator economy has arrived, and there’s no turning back. Creators command attention on an epic scale. They are true cultural gatekeepers who build their communities based on trust. Creators know and are highly accountable to their audiences which is why they are so effective in influencing behaviours.

We know this from experience, but also by data having conducted the first neuroscience study on the power of creator content, The Science of Influencer. The study found that when compared to TV adverts, influencer content is 277% more emotionally intense, and 87% more memorable. It is also more emotionally intense and memorable compared to ads on social platforms as well: 64% more emotionally intense when compared to Facebook adverts for example, and 182% more memorable.  The study also found that consumers are 58% more likely to feel positive towards a TV or social media ad if they saw content from the campaign through influencers first. Brands and advertisers globally are increasingly taking note. From 2016 to 2021, the value of the global creator economy grew over 800% from 1.7 billion USD to over 13.8 billion USD and it shows no signs of slowing.

I won’t bore you with the much-reported stats related to this youthful region and its social media saturation. We know the opportunity that exists in the MENA region at the intersection of youth and social media, but do advertisers and brands fully know how to leverage it? More importantly, do they know how to support it?  In the context of the creator economy, these two questions are inextricably linked.

Let’s start with partnerships, with creators, between creators and brands, and also with wider stakeholders. Partnerships and collaboration are at the heart of the creator economy and what keeps it moving forward. For brands, it’s about building an authentic relationship with creators giving them the freedom to unleash their creativity and speak to their audiences in a way that sparks engagement and true fandom.  Amongst stakeholders, partnerships, such as those with social media platforms provide key insights and data to both optimize creator partnerships as well as reinforce their power to key decision-makers. As the creator economy grows and evolves, partnerships will deepen.

Investment is key in the creator economy. Brands and platforms reaping the full benefits of the creator economy are those investing in it.  Supporting creators and paying them fairly for their work is crucial and marketing companies or agencies that say otherwise are doing brands a disservice. It is vital to compensate and support creators, many of whom are building businesses around themselves and their craft, which in turn allows them to do what they do best, create.

Underpinning the creative economy of course is technology. The platforms that host creator content but also new technology that increasingly allows creators to innovate and brands to implement campaigns at scale. Current technology allows brands to now engage creators from all corners of the world, fully manage the creative process with full visibility and also provide real-time reporting.

The sum of these parts adds up to highly strategic, innovative, and effective creative work that resonates with key audiences. The creator economy has moved beyond the days of simple promotion into increasingly sophisticated partnerships between brands and creators across brand building, social commerce, storytelling, and more.  Brands have also begun using creator content as their key creative production strategy. Creators are nimble, flexible, highly creative and their content’s quality matches, and often exceeds that of traditional agency work.  The result of these brand & creator partnerships is not only compelling content and creativity, but a real connection with the audiences those brands are trying to reach, all through the lens of trusted, relevant, and diverse creators.

Looking back on the rapid growth of the creator economy, the future looks equally exciting, particularly in the MENA region.  As one of the earliest companies operating in this space, we have been active within the region since 2015 and have seen first-hand how the vision of regionally based, international brands can grow and come to life in the most compelling of ways through working with creators.  These early adopter brands saw the value in investing in the creator economy and perhaps it’s no coincidence that they are now widely known globally.

As for the future of the creator economy, I have no doubt that it will continue to grow, evolve, and innovate in ways that are beyond imagination. With 12 years of regional experience in a number of marketing roles, I can unequivocally say that this is one of the most vibrant and exciting areas of marketing that I have been in. I would challenge those brands who are still not actively investing in the creator economy to ask themselves how the marketing they’re doing at present would look through the lens of the future. If the answer is predictable, it’s time to invest.