Is Influencer Marketing More Effective than Paid Advertising?

There are certain conversations in each industry that continuously make their rounds as new players rise up, and experienced ones evaluate performance in search of optimizations in strategy. Marketing is no different. With the success (most would say necessity) of omnichannel marketing in most industries, the best thing a marketer can do is ask questions and seek answers that will ultimately maximize ROI pertaining to whichever KPIs you’re after. 

In the world influencer marketing, one of these questions that gets asked is around the effectiveness of influencer versus programmatic paid advertising via display, native, or anything of the sort. Well, the short answer is that these aren’t mutually exclusive. Both sides have their strengths and many of the top performing influencer marketing campaigns include both sponsored social media and paid advertising. 

Benefits of Sponsored Influencer Content and Paid Advertising

As mentioned, both sponsored content and paid advertising have their advantages and when combined in the correct ways, you create the potential for an extremely effective marketing program.’s co-founder, Bill Hildebolt, touched on this topic as a part of his Math & Science of Influencer Marketing series where he provides in-depth breakdowns of popular topics in influencer marketing and eCom. 

To summarize his thoughts and to add a couple of extra key examples: 

Benefits of Sponsored Influencer Content 

  • Evergreen value around the content which helps long-term SEO 
  • High production value 
  • Ability to repurpose content into other assets 
  • Ability to organically connect with your audience 


Benefits of Paid Advertising 

  • Lower CPM, CPC, CPV, etc. 
  • Easy scalability and targeting options 
  • Easier comparisons to other marketing activities 

Combining both gives you the best of both worlds. Using only one or the other can limit things like your chance of virality or your ability to index appropriately, but those polarized strategies could still make sense given a very specific set of campaign goals and circumstances. If you’re not sure, it’s best to ask an influencer marketing professional for guidance and recommendations. 


How to Combine Paid Advertising and Influencer Marketing

There are several ways to combine paid advertising and influencer, but two stand out as the most optimal by providing the tools needed to truly capitalize on the benefits both areas have to offer: 

Utilize the Built-in Advertising Tools Provided By the Major Social Platforms

Meta, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn all have their own versions of an advertising tool that is designed for the specific purpose of streamlining ad production and scalability. 
All of these platforms provide the ability to whitelist the organic content that is turned into an ad, so all ads can come from an influencer’s handle instead of a brand’s handle. That’s where the value comes in as you’re able to utilize paid advertising to hyper target, scale, and get low CPx’s, while at the same time putting a friendly, real face behind the message. 

Repurpose the Influencer Content Itself into Ads to Run on Traditional Display or Other Areas 

When marketers think of repurposing content, they think ‘Earned value on budget that I’ve already spent, awesome!’. This is no different in the influencer/paid advertising combination, but you also get additional added value that you don’t receive by repurposing photos or videos sourced from a photographer or videographer. 
Targeted display and native advertising using influencer personalities opens up some interesting doors when it comes to brand lift studies and A/B testing creative types. Attribution is one of the stepping stones of a successful marketing program, especially if you’re in an innovation phase with your budget. 


How to Combine Paid Advertising and Influencer Marketing

Which Social Platforms Work Best for Combining Influencer & Paid?

When thinking about which platform is best for these efforts, your KPI is going to drive your decision in most cases.  Here are some common examples of which platforms would be best for particular brand goals:

  • If you're focused on getting the lowest possible CPV, then utilize:
    • YouTube
    • TikTok

  • If you're focused on getting the lowest possible CPC, then utilize:
    • Facebook

  • If you're focused on getting the lowest possible CPE, then utilize:
    • Instagram

If you think about it, these findings make perfect sense.  Video-based platforms naturally garner the lowest CPVs since that's what people are there to do.  CPVs on YouTube paid media can get as low as $0.04 per view, even on their 'Search' placement which requires users to click on your ad before you pay for their interaction.

Instagram being more visual and photo-focused makes for a fantastic option for CPE-focused brands looking to drive awareness.  Facebook is similar, but more information-focused as you have more users reading longer text, so CPC prices drop as people are more interested in the topics that the ads are covering.

All in all, the value of both influencer marketing and paid advertising entirely depend on your goals and KPIs. In most cases, it’s extremely valuable to combine both and not run them against each other. The holy grail of these programs is figuring out the correct way to balance your budget per program. 

Not sure how to figure out the best ways to balance your budget? Chat with our team of experts today for free and we’ll help you on your journey.