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Saurabh Varma

Influencer marketing will play a very important role in the future and will form a substantial portion of the digital marketing business, said Saurabh Varma, Founder and CEO at Wondrlab. Varma shared that the decision to acquire Opportune was taken as the organisation wanted to own an influencer marketing platform, rather than collaborating with others, to stay on top of the curve.

“Influencer marketing will be a key marketing pillar in the future. In fact, 25% of Digital marketing will be formed by influencer marketing. We wanted to own an influencer marketing platform than partnering with someone for our influencer marketing needs,” Varma said. 

According to Wondrlab, the opportunity will give them the power to structure campaigns for brands based on the need for premium and mass influencers on the same platform. Opportune currently has more than 300 clients and a team of 45-50 people, this widens the doors for Wondrlab. 

As per Varma, Opportune has a fantastic tech stack, something that aligns with Wondrlab’s approach when it comes to acquisitions. “Secondly, we resonated with the vision of the Opportune Founder, both from the technology and business perspective. Fundamentally we agreed that we need to focus on consumption first and influencer later as a strategy. That is where we will move towards over a period of time.” 

Varma further suggested that Wondrlab is on the lookout for more acquisitions in the influencer marketing space. “We will be acquiring more companies going forward. Opportune covers a significant ground in this space but nothing stops us from acquiring more. We will acquire more companies in this space if we find the right partners and chemistry,” he stated. 

How will Opportune's acquisition help Wondrlab stand out in the influencer marketing space?

Varma stated that the agency understands the importance of influencers as well as the power of creativity and storytelling. He said their tech solutions sets them apart from the rest.

We know exactly what clients need and want, which many don’t. You are either a media and a creative agency which doesn’t understand how influencers think and behave or you are an influencer agency which doesn’t understand the magic of creativity and storytelling. To have a bridge between the two is our fundamental differentiation that comes in,” he added. 

Varma stated the agency will focus on micro and nano influencers and will leverage multiple publishers and bring them on the platform. 

Different models that will shape the influencer marketing space in the times to come

According to Varma, there are several possibilities that will shape the influencer marketing space in the times to come. “There are so many possibilities at the moment in this space. One possibility is that you create a B2C model, where influencers engage with the consumers directly through the platform. The second model is a consumption-first model, which means I will first get people to buy the brand’s product and then the influencer will be rewarded basis how many conversions they are able to fetch. There are several other possibilities like these and many of these worlds will collide.”

“We as a platform have to decide where we will play and have a right to win and scale. That is the biggest question and challenge. It is not just about winning for today but deciding and building for tomorrow,” he explained. 

They have also come up with ‘Opportune score’, an in-house algorithm that will create a currency for influencers on the back of reach and engagement. He said there is a certain remuneration attached with the job that influencers will do. As the influencer becomes bigger, their remuneration level changes.  “This is a very transparent model from the influencer and brand perspective.”

Challenges in the influencer space today  

According to Varma, one must focus on creating authentic content based on the brand’s objectives and insights. He said creators must be given enough freedom to create their content as many brands continue to remain satisfied with the ages-old narratives and patterns. 

“This is absolutely wrong. Imagine creating three ads which look the same and with the same message. This problem is happening because a lot of communication specialists don’t understand the concept of a narrative and how it is built. The brand purpose and essence shouldn’t change in content, but the way an influencer creates the message has to be unique and authentic. If you don’t give the influencer the power to create her own magic, you will not succeed. The worst thing you could do is to be overtly prescriptive on what you want out of the deliverable,” he said. 

Varma added that in the future there will be a bigger push toward performance marketing and brands will want influencers to be in line with the brand’s vision. “Some of the influencers will become bigger than the brands over a period of time. So, how do you really find a way to work with them in a manner which is systematic? Consumption first, influence later. Brands will want you to really buy the product and then on the back of your real experience, create a genuine UGC. I believe several of the platforms will combine with fintech. You will see neo banks emerging and targeting the same influencers and using them to drive consumption,” added Varma.