Influencer marketing agencies need to find a niche to grow, says Gautam Madhavan, Founder and CEO, MAD Influence

While most brands are still finding ways to spread awareness around the coronavirus, the influencer marketing agency in partnership with TikTok has come up with content videos and the #HandWashChallenge for Dettol to educate users globally. Madhavan tells how it provides a 360-degree approach to brands, from content production to execution to finding a right influencer

Akanksha Nagar
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We often see brands utilising the power of influencers to promote consumer goods. At a time when influencers are becoming natural advocates of products, it is high time for brands to collaborate with them to go beyond just promotional efforts.

In conversation with Gautam Madhavan, Founder and CEO of MAD Influence, found out how an influencer campaign can effectively promote a brand’s philanthropic efforts.

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, most brands are keeping the conversations cold with educational content.

However, MAD Influence, in partnership with TikTok, is using the power of storytelling via influencers to spread awareness around the virus with the #HandWashChallenge for Dettol.

It has helped the brand to garner user-generated content participation from over 50,000 people in just two days of its launch on TikTok.

Being a 60-day long campaign, the agency is expecting one lakh videos from users. It has generated over 2.5 billion views till now and expects to cross five billion by the end of the campaign. Being a global campaign, it is being run in the US, Europe and some parts of Asia and also has celebrity influencers on board, including Urvashi Rautela.

The agency provides brands a 360-degree approach, right from content production to content planning till the execution and also finding the right influencers while managing a particular campaign. It also does post-campaign analysis for brands.

With a team of 60 people, apart from providing the right set of influencers, the agency has two other arms: MAD Media, to take care of all the media buying on various portals, and MAD Production, to produce content for influencers. The team keeps a check on the hygiene and quality of the content that influencer puts online.

Apart from this, the agency is also into celebrity marketing and movie promotions and an exclusive partner of T-series. 

Madhavan said not just brands, but NGOs and government organisations can also benefit via influencer marketing.

The agency recently took on board a DCP of Kerala on TikTok to talk about women safety. He said such content via rational decision-makers is more authentic but is not suitable for new agencies as it only provides goodwill. 

The agency, which did more than 500 influencer marketing campaigns last year, is the mutli-channel network (MCN) partner of TikTok. Founded in 2018, the agency on-boards influencers from across categories from fashion to food and has 90% retention rate on the platform. It also works with Instagram and Snapchat.

Having witnessed 20% month-on-month growth, Madhavan said the agency works with 10,000-plus influencers.

Influencer marketing can be more beneficial only when a right influencer is selected. So, how does it select an influencer?

“We have one set of registered influencers with us, who get activated on a monthly basis. To keep the authenticity high, we filter out influencers based on the engagement rate, followers and social listening. Then we have a set of influencers who work exclusively with us,” he said.

For the exclusive influencers, the agency provides them the guaranteed business, while providing them full content support.

Defining an ideal relationship between an influencer and influencer marketing agency, Madhavan said, “For us, it the relationship first and then business. We work with them on a very close level because when you have a good relationship with them, you get things done in a more transparent manner. So, we always keep influencers in the loop while we collaborate with brands so that both of them have a better clarity.”

He suggested agencies to closely work with brands to better understand their roots and values.

Talking about influencer marketing in India, he said agencies today need to understand that they are not just a middleman for brands.

He added, “It's very important for any agency in this space to create their niche. They should start with the niche and then probably can go big. However, in the space, the early movers’ advantage goes to agencies or the platforms. Every platform has its own big players.”

The agency has location-based influencers from tier one, two and three cities as well. Currently serving in 30 cities, it plans to expand soon.

Talking about the measurement of ROI, Madhavan explained how the agency works on branding campaigns where there is no sales objective. For such campaigns, it aims to reach out to maximum people and it measures the ROI on impressions, followers, shares, comments or likes it has generated for the brand. For performance marketing campaigns, where sales is the objective, it measures the returns on downloads, website visit, purchases, etc.

We have seen influencers such as Bhuvan Bam acting as brand advocates not only on just digital platforms but also on television. So, does that mean the scope of influencer marketing is beyond digital?

Madhavan answered this by saying any influencer cannot work on any medium in isolation except for digital.

“One cannot really ignore the digital platform while working in isolation on other mediums, as it is a waste since their real audience is on digital,” he said.

MAD Influence Gautam Madhavan