“One person has the money, the other person gets it, and the person in the middle has nothing to do with it” – the humorous announcement made by moderator Pit Gottschalk for the ISPO ACADEMY stage panel on the topic “Influencer Marketing – Hype or Viable Business Model?”
Discussing with him, Chief Editor of Sports at Funke Medien and himself an influencer, were Lee Jakobs from Marker, Dalbello, and Völkl on the company side, Sebastian Canaves from off-the-path.com on the influencer side, and in the middle Dirk von Gehlen from the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, as a representative of the old media.
The three panel participants were exemplary for their respective genres and their respective stances on the topic of influencer marketing. ISPO.com summarizes the positions.
The influencer: Sebastian Canaves from “Off the path”
Sebastian Canaves is one of the most successful travel bloggers in the world. His site “Off the path” gets several hundreds of thousands of visits per month, he has over 100,000 fans on Facebook, and his business earns him a “decent six-figure sum” each year, which he exchanges among his four firm and six freelance employees.
As an influencer with a major reach, it’s important to him to remain independent, to not let himself be bought. “We get 200 emails with inquiries every day,” says Canaves, “But we accept not even one percent of them. We have to identify with what we’re reporting on. And truly stand behind something when we recommend it.”
Canaves terms the difference from journalism like that: “Journalists need to be objective. We report subjectively. And our users appreciate that.”
Influencer Sebastian Canaves: “The brands trust us, and the users do too”
On the relationship with the brands, Canaves says, “We have an agreement. The brands want awareness, and for that they say, ‘We trust you that your judgment will come out appropriately.’ Our users, who decided our success, also have this trust and expectation. And that’s why it works.”
The marketing man: Lee Jakobs of Marker, Dalbello, Völkl.
Lee Jakobs is Head of Marketing and Brand: Marker, Dalbello, Völkl. The marketing man from winter sports, whose company produces skis, ski boots, and ski bindings and also uses spokespeople for promotions who are more expensive than influencers, says: “The journey to the podium is more interesting than the podium for us.” And this journey also needs influencers.
“Influencers need to tell the truth”
“The best marketing for our products is the stuff that doesn’t come from us,” says Lee Jakobs, “But rather is initiated by third parties.” And for that he needs influencers who test his products, rate them, and – very important – stay credible doing it.
“Our expectation of influencers is that they tell the truth. And if sometimes they rate us poorly with a product where we don’t expect it: that’s okay, too. Then we get good ratings from somewhere else unexpected.”
The marketing man from winter sports, whose company produces skis, ski boots, and ski bindings and also uses spokespeople for promotions who are more expensive than influencers, says: “The journey to the podium is more interesting than the podium for us.” And this journey also needs influencers.
The modern journalist: Dirk von Gehlen, Süddeutsche Zeitung
Dirk von Gehlen is the Head of Social Media and Innovations at the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper in Munich and blogs on the topic “Digital Notes.” He’s a modern journalist from an old media publisher, and says: “Even the classic media like us are paying attention to the influencer topic. We need to come into the dialogue with them.”
The media “one size fits all” of the old days no longer applies: In times of Spotify, where every user continues to get their own custom generated playlist, “the news, too, needs to be filtered according to respective personal interests and arrive to the reader in a personalized form Only when we’ve succeeded at that do we have a chance,” says von Gehlen, who also just published a book on the topic entitled “Meta – das Ende des Durchschnitts” (Meta – The End of the Average).
Publishing media needs payment models – and loyal readers.
It’s more important for publishing houses to establish a payment model than it is for bloggers – and that is why von Gehlen focuses on the topic of trust, that readers will invest in the media brand and what they’ll be ready to pay for it. “We can’t unsettle that trust, we need loyal users.”
The representatives of the influencer faction didn’t contradict him on that point, either. In the end, they were all agreed: Influencer marketing is more than just hype. It’s a true value.