Viacom is acquiring influencer marketing company WhoSay as it looks to regain its cachet among young viewers who have been increasingly turning to platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to consume content.
Since 2010, WhoSay (with financing from CAA), has worked with influencers and celebrities like Cassadee Pope and Vanessa Williams, matching them with brands like McDonald's and Aveeno to create and distribute content.
Viacom has certainly been on the hunt to partner with next-generation platforms that can help it keep up with the multitude of outlets claiming the attention of viewers.
In October, the company tapped social influencer Matthew Patrick, known to his fans as MatPat, to consult on its social media and branded content strategy.
Viacom has been working with WhoSay for the the past two years on campaigns for brands like Hellman's and Burt's Bees, as well as to promote its own content.
While Viacom certainly has built its own social presence, most of its efforts center around its own tent-pole events like MTV's Video Music Awards and the BET Awards, says Sean Moran, head of marketing and partner solutions at Viacom.
"This partnership gives us the ability to go from spiked periods of excellence to 52-weeks of excellence," he says.
With WhoSay, Moran says Viacom can now quickly turn around solutions for a consumer package goods client looking to launch a new product, for example. Within a few days, Moran says, Viacom can work with WhoSay on a linear campaign that gets talent involved and can be distributed across social channels.
Moran also points to WhoSay's shopper marketing capabilities, which help speak to consumers at the time of purchase.
The acquisition is also expected to help fuel Viacom's new digital studios unit under president Kelly Day, who joined the company from AwesomenessTV in November.
And as brand safety continues to be top-of-mind for marketers when working with social influencers, Moran says WhoSay has safety parameters that don't leave marketers wondering if their creative has been seen by a human or not or if the talent they partner with will get them in trouble. Moran says he is confident in WhoSays' human and algorithmic solutions that matches talent with brands.
This is especially important following the backlash over a video posted by the immensely popular YouTuber Logan Paul that showed a dead body in a forest in Japan known as a locale for suicide.
WhoSay will remain in their current offices in New York and Los Angeles and operate independently from Viacom. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.