First of all, brands that strike deals directly with influencers can expect different pricing than if they go through an influencer agency, which take out their own percentages—usually anywhere from 10% to 40%. Even among influencer agencies, brands can expect different pricing structures as well. Influencer agencies have taken it upon themselves to set competitive pricing guides with distinctive sets of criteria.
“In the early days of influencer marketing, pricing was all over the map,” says Eric Dahan, CEO at influencer marketing agency Open Influence. “Brands were focusing on follower counts, and influencers were charging massive premiums to brands and, in some cases, even getting them. A big role we played was keeping influencers’ pricing in check. As an agency, we have helped standardize fair pricing for both brands and creators based on several factors.”
Open Influence, which has worked on creator-heavy campaigns for brands like Amazon Prime, Bose and Barilla, weighs several factors beyond creator follower counts and impressions, like which platform is being utilized, if they are using video or static images, and usage and exclusivity rights. Photography influencers, for example, are far more expensive than fashion influencers. And if there's travel involved or event attendance required, that will also drive rates higher.
Some of this may seem obvious: A creator with millions of followers posting a video to YouTube, which requires more production, will be much more expensive than a creator posting an image to Instagram with the same audience. And an influencer granting exclusive rights to content will always be more expensive than ones who grant partial rights or post one-off images or videos.
It’s these types of benchmarks that make influencer campaigns even more structured and varied then digital or traditional ad campaigns. Influencer agencies have to manage many variables like talent aspect along with digital KPIs like CPMs (cost to reach 1,000 views) or CPVs (cost per view).
“Creator pricing isn't black and white,” says Eric Jacks, chief strategy officer at Collab, which works with brands like Coca-Cola, Nike, Bud Light and Dunkin’ Donuts.
At Collab, creator rates are based on a number of factors, with follower sizes oftentimes not even being the most important aspect. The general scope of the work—how many deliverables, across what platforms and the timing—come into play. With more platforms available than ever, more deliverables across multiple platforms over a short period of time can increase fees. Collab also looks at usage rights and brand ownership of the content, performance metrics where high engagement can make up for smaller followings, and the ability for a brand to run paid media to help boost creators’ content, which could also increase fees.
Meanwhile, the broader a brand’s exclusivity needs, the higher creators’ fees will be. For instance, an exclusivity around “cars,” will mean a creator will not be able to work with other auto brands, and therefore, the rate will increase to make up for potential missed income. Some creators also have costs aligned with their content creation process, especially those producing high-quality video, and might accept other perks, such as free travel, lodging and goods to bring their rates down.