Chief executive of advertising giant WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell, does not think social media influencers are reshaping the media landscape.
Speaking at the ITP Live Conference in Dubai, via live video streaming, Sorrell said the impact social media influencers have on the digital industry has been exaggerated.
“[Social media influencers] are important [but] are they reshaping the media landscape? I think the answer to that is, they are influencing it, but not reshaping it,” he said.
"They have become important, but it’s a variant of traditional celebrity endorsement and word of mouth… [which] has become, in a way, even more important. When you look at the Middle East, if you look at all the media research that’s been done on the region, the role of influencers or word of mouth has become increasingly powerful.
“[They are] influential and growing in influence, but to say that they’re totally reshaping it is a little bit of an exaggeration. They’re important at a significant level, but they have not gained the power or the influence that other forms of digital, social and traditional [media] still have,” he added.
Sorrell, one of the advertising world’s most influential and highest paid men, said the rise of influencers has made celebrity endorsements more important. However, he claimed micro-influencers, those with 10,000 followers or less, are becoming the more dominant players.
“Influencers have started to develop in many ways; celebrity, executive, political, TV personalities, commentators… [But] more ordinary influencing, micro influencing, has actually become quite powerful… We’re talking about fairly small amounts, but they are becoming increasingly significant… [The industry might be] switching away from the big to the more middle-sized influencers and even the smaller ones,” he said.
Sorrell claimed spending in context of digital, while growing, remains relatively small.
“Google this year will make $100 billion in advertising. Facebook will make $40 billion. In context of those numbers, influencers are relatively small… There is a growing shift, but I wouldn’t put it front and centre yet as we see in terms of development,” he said.
Group M, WPP’s media investment management division, partnered with global media company Fullscreen last year to launch Playa, an influencer marketing platform.
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