UAE, Saudi social media influencers to earn more in 2018

New research from the Online Project finds that marketers are increasingly turning to cash payments to compensate influencers
Content creators and their fans on the opening day of VIDXB, an event that celebrated aspiring and established content creators, media influencers, fan communities, and industry professionals.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Thu 25 Jan 2018 11:49 AM

Social media influencer marketing budgets are likely to go up in 2018, according to new research from the Online Project, a digital agency that works with brands in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Jordan.

The research, which is based on over 1,000 interviews and surveys with decision makers for brands and Fortune 500 companies in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, found that almost 25 percent of markets spent over $25,000 in influencer marketing initiatives in the last 12 months.

According to Ramzi Halaby, the CEO and co-founder of the Online Project, noted that marketers are largely no longer resorting to freebies, invitations and compliments to compensate influencers.

“Marketers increasingly find themselves competing with other brands for influencers’ attention and commitment, which naturally gives these the power to negotiate cash deals,” he said. “Cash is now on the rise, and represents 43 percent of how marketers compensate influencers.”

Halaby noted that most markets “consider influencer compensation a complex topic”.

“This is due to the intrinsic subjectivity of evaluating content quality and the fact that compensation is determined, in most cases, before campaign results become available,” he said. “The number of followers, traditionally thought to be the most important, has secondary importance for marketers.”

The report also found that approximately two-thirds of marketers who run influencer marketing in-house say that the biggest challenge is finding the “right” influencer. More than half of marketers said they prefer to run their marketing initiatives in-house, while those who outsource said they prefer to work with social media agencies.

“Much like in the case of other marketing disciplines, marketers who opt for an in-house approach do so motivated by the idea of building direct relationships with influencers and to minimize costs,” Halaby said. “Marketers who choose to outsource their influencer marketing initiatives are motivated mainly by the belief that working with specialists yields better results.”

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