Influencer and publisher whitelisting is all the rage: And it works!
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Brands are constantly on the lookout for the next marketing technique.
From using organic social to paid media, there’s one thing every brand would love to improve: the ROI.
As much as influencer marketing and working with creators is a growing trend for most eCommerce brands, there are still plenty of options to create brand awareness, drive traffic back to websites or landing pages, and build a community.
One such technique, often referred to as whitelisting, creator licensing, or creator listing (really, various terms mean the same thing here), has shown to be beneficial for particular brands.
Cody Plofker, chief marketing officer at Jones Road Beauty, shares this:
Some may already be working with influencers creating content and want to take it up a notch. For others, the concept of whitelisting/creator licensing might be completely new to you.
Before diving into the benefits and challenges of this marketing technique (and whether it’s a smart move for creators), it’s a good idea to talk about what it is in the first place and how it differs from other forms of advertising.
What is whitelisting?
In a nutshell, whitelisting is this: creators and publishers give access to their social platforms (usually Facebook and Instagram, though TikTok is growing) so brands can upload and boost posts.
Wondering what this looks like and how it connects to other marketing tools?
Here’s an example of an ad for Jones Road Beauty, created with the help of Savannah Sanchez’s agency, The Social Savannah.
Plofker directed traffic from the ad to a listicle featured on the Jones Road Beauty website, connecting visitors to a quiz. This quiz recommended products and shades to curious shoppers in exchange for an email address.
Even with early reporting, the click-to-purchase was 14% and a ROAS of 2.97.
For the average person, the concept of whitelisting might seem like a pretty questionable arrangement, but it has the potential to benefit everyone involved, as you can see with Jones Road Beauty.
Here’s a rundown on what whitelisting opens up for brands:
- Having access to analytics and audiences through a creator
- Boosting posts
- Creating the CTA and driving traffic to respective locations
- Monitoring real-time performance and making adjustments, as needed
Celebrities often do this for sponsored posts, too.
An example of this, shared by short-form video creator Mindy Thomas, is Mandy Moore’s partnership with Hello Fresh.
In essence, whitelisting boils down to brand ads > posted with creator or publisher handles > connected to specific pages (landing pages, for example) that allow brands to track data and conversions.
Don’t have the budget to work with celebrities? You’re in luck with whitelisting.
Depending on your audience, they may connect more with smaller creators than larger accounts, and there’s more trust for creators than celebrities.
There’s also this: creator-made ads consistently do better than brand ads in gaining attention and traction. Using data collected across a range of industries from beauty to CPG, creator ads outperform other ads by 20 to 50%, according to Lumanu.
To whitelist or not
Before moving forward and working with creators using this technique, it’s always worthwhile to consider any benefits or challenges first.
At this point, most consumers see an ad and scroll right past them.
The cost of advertising is through the roof; sometimes, there’s not much to show for it.
For that reason, marketing teams are increasingly tapping into creator marketing and looking for ways to redirect budgets to campaigns that bring in more revenue.
One of the biggest tips for brands interested in moving forward is to look for creators who’ve already done work promoting the brand. Ads will look more organic and trustworthy to an audience by having an authentic relationship between brand and product.
How many times have you seen a post by your favorite creator only to realize after watching that it was an advertisement?
This is a testament to the skill of the creator and the relationship between brand > creator > audience in a way that nearly goes undetected and gets more favorable results.
Brands benefit from whitelisting in that they can assume the creator's identity while maintaining control over the entire process.
As much benefit as there is associated with whitelisting, I’d be remiss not to include any potential challenges.
Creating relationships and moving toward the process of whitelisting isn’t easy.
Depending on the creator's platform, several hurdles must be met, and they need to be set up properly within Meta Ads Manager so they can designate essential permissions. Platforms like #paid help brands and creators work through this challenge with ease.
Creators are independent, which means they can create a contract that works for them.
Working with more than one creator? Keeping content and contracts organized might be challenging when they’re all different.
For smaller eCommerce brands, working with creators individually could prove beneficial; however, for larger brands with bigger budgets and more ad requirements, an agency might be the way to go.
Creators + Whitelisting: Here’s what creatives need to know
Whether a creator wants to include this whitelisting service is purely up to them, and each creator might choose to work in different capacities.
For Thomas, she explains her process: “I will only agree to (whitelisting) if I personally LOVE the product and if I feel the client and I have a solid working relationship.”
Whitelisting also serves as a unique benefit for creators.
Aside from making the content and then doing all the work promoting it to followers, creators hand over the reins to a brand once the visuals are created.
Brands usually have the budget to target a massive and diverse audience, allowing them to test and change audience parameters, if necessary.
This boosts the creator's visibility and being paid for the creative aspect.
A relationship between creator and brand is one of the most important foundations before going into something like whitelisting. It needs to be mutually beneficial and transparent for there to be trust on either end.