My 2 Key Takeaways from WORLDZ: Influencers Are Still Influencing and Podcast are a (really) Big Deal

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By: Scott Zakheim, Landmark Ventures

Thanks to the generous and warm hospitality of my friend Robin Zucker, CMO of WORLDZ, I was afforded the opportunity to head out to Long Beach, CA, last month to attend WORLDZ, one of the fastest-growing and popular global communities for marketing innovators. It was a both a fascinating and educational experience, in which I made valuable contacts and gleaned tremendous insight on the latest trends and movements in the digital marketing and media ecosystem.

At Landmark Ventures we are very selective about the conferences we attend (outside our own Dealmakers platform), and I found that adding WORLDZ to my annual conference slate was well worth it from both a thought leadership and networking perspective.

I wanted to share a couple of interesting takeaways I pulled from the classes I sat in on (WORLDZ doesn’t do break-out sessions, but instead creates more of an interactive teacher-class set up for the non-main stage content). There’s obviously a ton I missed out on because I didn’t have the bandwidth to catch all the classes, so I’ve shared two interesting thought that I’ve been mulling since I left Long Beach, which I’m happy to share and start a conversation with you about as well….

Influencer is Still a Thing

It seems that calls for the demise of influencer marketing in the wake of the FYRE festival and its ensuing documentaries were a bit premature. This space is active, growing and maturing, and as brands continue to find creative ways to engage their customers via smart, relevant, and personalized content, it sure isn’t going anywhere. We see this on a daily basis with our own portfolio company AspireIQ, who is helping major brands tell their stories to customers – not just catchy stories, but instead stories that are specifically relevant to their value proposition, a critical ingredient that many brands don’t emphasize enough when developing content.

Organic content development goes beyond influencer identification and beyond a pay structure. Brands need to leverage all types of advocates and engage those who are already passionate about that brand. Most importantly, brands need to enable seamless content-building, or story building, leveraging platforms, who allow for an easy framework to develop, create and share content via an ecosystem of rand advocates across a multitude of digital channels.

One piece of the puzzle in influencer marketing that clearly still challenges brands is how to create meaningful KPIs or success metrics. How do you know influencer is working? One interesting tidbit I heard from a brand at WORLDZ was that they correlate lower call center volume as an indicator that they’re telling their product story in a smarter way. Ultimately if a brand or product story is told well and the end user sees a relatable, applicable use of a product, the chances are they won’t need to call for additional information on how to use the product.

And that’s just one potential way brands are seeing concrete ROI from influencer marketing, there are certainly many others as well.

Podcasts are a Sneaky Monster

I listen to a podcast, heck, I even produce my own podcast, and I obviously realize that podcasting is hot. That said, I really had no idea just how large the market has become. Podcasting and the marketing and advertising ecosystem around podcasting is growing exponentially: the content, the listeners, the advertisers, the channels and the dollars – it’s all exploding.

The facts here speak for themselves:

– One in five (and iHeart believes one in three) Americans are now active podcast listeners

– Podcast listeners are better educated and more affluent (score for advertisers!)

– iHeart podcast listening is up 312% in the last year