Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: How to tell if a brand's sponsorship strategy is successful

By
Elsie Bernaiche
,
Account Executive at ThoughtLeaders
October 8, 2020


When coming up with a sponsored content strategy that works, it’s not enough to just look at the success of individual channels. Once you’ve found what works, it’s time to look at how to make these results replicable and scalable. 


Click here to learn how to understand the different metrics for measuring success. 


In influencer marketing, repeated sponsored mentions of a brand on a channel is the biggest indicator of ROI. Why? Almost no brands buy more than 1, 2, or 3 videos from an influencer channel as a test. There are few reasons for this practice, mainly that average video costs on YouTube start at $1000-$3000 per 30-60 second mention, so the cost-benefit risk is too high to buy more than 1 video to start. Also, while YouTube and podcast content is “evergreen” and can be accessed long after being published, the majority of engagement: views, clicks, web traffic, and sales, occurs within the first 30 days, max. Therefore, it’s really easy to test 1 video, wait for performance measurements to come through, and then consider buying more ads on that channel. 


With this insider knowledge, we can easily identify the best-performing channels and hone in on which content drives the most engagement within these channels. 


If brand spending patterns indicate potential ROI on a channel, we simply need to assess brand “testing success rates”. 


A brand’s testing success rate will tell us a few things: the rate of return of a brand to a specific channel, content vertical, or format; how many total possibly successful channels there are to test for our brand; and how much a brand has spent testing those unsuccessful channels that can be avoided through this risk-reduced approach. 



This chart can be replicated easily for YouTube, newsletter, blog, or ALL 4 formats if desired. Segmenting by format can show you whether a brand is testing more successfully on YouTube vs. podcast and where your brand should therefore invest more of your media dollars to maximize profits. 


This chart sorts channel/brand relationships by total number of sponsorships, total length of relationship, and recency of sponsorships. 


It’s nearly impossible to create this chart without some sort of analytics platform that can show you appearances of brands on long-form content like YouTube and podcast, so we’ve included a few screenshots from our platform to show you where this info is coming from!


Let’s take Skillshare as an example since they’ve tested widely across YouTube.


We need to sort by FORMAT first:


When we go down to the list of THOUGHT LEADERS, we see they’re sorted by keyword (Skillshare vs. Skillshare.com vs Ski.sh and other derivatives of their sponsored links). You can select only links to eliminate channels that frequently mention the brand organically. 


From there, we can count the total # of mentions and whether the last mention occurred within the past 3 months, which we currently consider to be the recency time limit. 


It’s a simple process of count and sort from here: 

  1. Count the total number of channels with 11+ mentions (217). 
  2. Complete the counts for 6-10, 3-5, 2, and 1 mentions. 
  3. Then, take the channels within the 11+ mention category, and sort them by only the channels ALSO sponsored in the past 3 months. Of the 217, we get 136.
  4. Complete this recency sort for the other channels in the 6-10 mentions, 3-5 mentions, 2, and 1 mentions categories.
  5. Add the final target channels together: with 6-10 mentions, or 11+ mentions within the past 3 months, these channels are successful ROI drivers for your guide/competitor brand, or Skillshare in this example. 


With Skillshare as our example, it’s absolutely astounding to see how much the testing success rate tells you: Skillshare has appeared on a total 1188 YouTube channels since 2012, but only 136 channels represent their longest and best profiting partnerships. That’s only 11.45% successful channels of Skillshare’s total tested channels.


Would your new, start-up brand want to test potential influencer marketing channels at only 11.45%? Absolutely not, that’s already an assumption that 90% of marketing budget allocated will not result in any replicable activity! No CMO is signing off on this plan! 


Furthermore, it’s invaluable to know that Skillshare has a higher testing success rate of 16.37% on podcast, even though they’ve only sponsored on 202 podcasts.Perhaps your service-based brand would find more ROI from investing on podcast than YouTube… more datapoints would need to be assessed, but these metrics give major guidance. If your brand does decide to invest more heavily on podcast after looking at other similar brands and their most successfully tested formats, you’re able to sort from the 33 successful podcasts that Skillshare is being mentioned on with confidence that the remaining 169 podcasts are more risk than reward for your brand. 


It’s worth noting that some channel-brand relationships burn out due to the “maxxing out” of the channel over time: there’s only so many potential customers within a set audience and the audience can be exhausted after a brand has purchased millions and millions of views over time on that channel. Therefore, the recency measurement of 3 months can be adapted or removed, depending on the brand strategy. And that’s a topic for a different article… (sign up here to get it hot off the press when I get around to writing it!). 


SECTION REVIEW:
  • Brand repetition on influencer channels is the best measurement of ROI.
  • Only channels that have been sponsored by a brand between 6-10 or 11+ times can be defined as a successfully tested channel. 
  • Sorting by recency is not always necessary.
  • Comparing a brand’s testing success rates between formats is important to planning total budget allocation.


QUESTIONS SOLVED FOR:
  • Which channels are working for ____ (guide/competitor) brand?
  • How often is ____ (guide/competitor) brand returning to the same content creator channels? 
  • Is ____ (guide/competitor) brand succeeding more of the time on YouTube vs. podcast vs. another digital format? 


Talk money to me

Since we’re talking about returns of all kinds in this article, let’s conclude by discussing the bottom dollar: using analytics like this can actually help your brand save hundreds of thousands of media dollars in channels that won’t perform. 


Take Skillshare for example: the 136 YouTube channels they’ve returned 11+ times surely have earned Skillshare way more than they’ve wasted, but do keep in mind that we determined that nearly half of the 1100+ channels Skillshare has been featured on were a 1-time test failure.

Our platform calculates the average spend on a channel based on average views * average CPV, which should make a lot of sense based on section 1 of this article! Therefore, we can estimate how much $ Skillshare has spent on these 1-time tests. Based on our platform data, we’re talking about nearly $600,000 that Skillshare has paid out to creators for a 1-time video that they most likely saw little to no activity from. 


In reality, it’s possible that Skillshare has spent a lot more since 2012 on underperforming channels: they’re showing to be spending a current $1M a month on the 200 or so channels they’re currently averaging per month:


AUG 2020: 220+ channels, 400+ video mentions


SEPT 2020: 220+ channels, 400+ mentions



Skillshare has gotten it down like clockwork: even though COVID-19 has hit 2020 hard, they’re barely showing a change at all according to their activity/investments in AUG 2019:


AUG 2019: just shy of 200 channels, 400+ mentions


Spending nearly $1M a month on YouTube views alone means that, yes, perhaps Skillshare has a more flexible budget than other brands… but that’s all the more reason to measure testing success rates of these top brands to understand the level of their investments over time. You can easily improve your testing success rates as much as 24% compared to a big name like Skillshare using our platform and the methods outlined above. 


Don’t believe me? Contact us to get a copy of our case studies, where we dive into our client success stories using the same calculations mentioned in this article