May 15, 2024

PRophet's CMO on their Webby win

"We're all about helping our customers, and we are supremely focused on solving business challenges."

PRophet, part of the Stagwell Marketing Cloud family, offers a trio of solutions for brands and communications pros. PRophet Influence—an end-to-end tool to streamline influencer marketing—recently took home a 2024 Webby, an international award honoring "excellence on the Internet."

We sat down with PRophet CMO Jason Brandt to talk about how the platform makes life a little easier for marketers who want to find the perfect content creators to help share their messages.

How did it feel for PRophet Influence to win a Webby Award this year?

Look, we are all about helping our customers. We’re creating unique technology that we believe is the best out there right now for what our clients need. And we are supremely focused on solving business challenges.

That said, we couldn't be more thrilled and honored to be recognized by the Webby’s—and humbled, because of the competition that was out there.

We would have been perfectly fine with just an acknowledgment, but the fact that we won in our category is fantastic. There’s always a bit of “okay now, boom, let’s move on from here into the next thing that’s going to help our customers.”

But for now, you know, we’re still celebrating.

If you’re a brand looking to work with influencers or content creators, it can feel overwhelming—like you have to have your finger on the pulse of all contemporary culture. How does PRophet Influence take some of that pressure off?

All brands are currently struggling with how to tell their stories in a way that is going to land with different generations, people with different tastes, different outlooks.

For a brand that wants to have a relationship with multiple influencers, it’s almost impossible to manage those relationships individually in a way that guarantees impact.

You have to vet these people, you’ve got to look and see if their current and historical content is safe for the brand. Then you’ve got to contract with them, brief them, and so forth. It’s very daunting.

If a brand is going to work with two or three content creators who each have massive audiences...not difficult. But if you want to talk to 15, 20, 30 influencers with smaller audiences—micro-influencers, with under 10,000 followers—that’s really hard.

We work with one global CPG brand that basically has 300 different relationships a year with content creators. Imagine that to get to that 300, you have to vet 1,000. You can’t do that without some help. That’s where PRophet comes in.

Talk me through how creators show up on the platform.

Some other platforms purely exist by inviting creators into the platform to register, in which case they're only making a fairly small group of creators available to their customers. That's definitely a legitimate way to do it, and that's their decision.

We've taken a slightly different approach. Through our technology, we are pulling in 280 million accounts across TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. And then we also provide pro tools associated with 32 filters. So I have 280 million accounts available to me, and then 32 filters to focus on whatever topic I’m interested in, and I can bring it down to a fairly small number of people that I actually want to talk to.

I can then invite those content creators to be part of our platform, if they’re not already. And when I invite them to be part of that platform, I'm going to get some information that I wouldn't normally get through just looking at public accounts: rates, how they like to work, content they’re proud of that may not be readily available, evolving trends that they want to take part of, demographics, age,  things like that.

What’s the incentive for the creator to share this info?

By registering, they’re going to get invited to many of these briefs moving forward. They're just going to get more opportunities.

Is there a certain level of creator, in terms of follower count, that PRophet is the sweet spot for?

We do find much of the energy right now is with nano-influencers, micro-influencers, there’s different terms for this. Depending on the definition, that means about 20,000 followers and less. That is absolutely the sweet spot.

We also see ‘tastemakers’ as a growing segment of the creator community—essentially these are people who have 9-5 jobs that they’re great at, and they are creating content about their craft for their audiences. They are very powerful right now.

Can you pinpoint a few areas of the platform where AI is really woven into the platform at the moment?

At the moment AI is in support of creativity. There's a human element that's super important. There will come a point where AI might become more of the leading role, where it's actually starting to formulate smaller lists that might be right based upon the input of a creative brief. We are close to that.

One way AI is currently integral is in identifying what percentage of a creator’s followers are fake accounts, bots, or dormants. That way your company is negotiating based on the real number of followers versus the followers that the platforms are reporting.

We have AI that is being used for brand safety. So, for example, if I'm a company that wants to sell to moms, I'm going to want to choose a content creator who’s going to be brand-safe to a mom community or to a parent community.

It's very, very hard to go back in time and get a true read on if a content creator has content that's really, truly brand safe. If you could put a lawyer in a room for several days and watch thousands of pieces of content, fine. But who has time to do that?

One last example is AI that determines if comments made to content are positive, negative, or neutral to the brand or to the category. We will translate comments from any language and determine brand or category intent. Or simply, did the audience like the post? If the post was a hit, then we boost. If it didn't land, then we adjust or suppress.

PRophet Influence is a fully end-to-end platform. What are some of the areas where the tool is really eliminating grunt work or streamlining the process?

Think about a typical team. You might have one group that’s really effective at finding creators that are right for the brand. Then you have a slightly different team that's going to be in charge of putting together the media plan. Then you have a slightly different team that's going to be in charge of contracting; another team that's going to be involved in the briefing and the reviewing of the creative to make sure it's hitting all the brand marks; another team that's managing the analytics, and so on.

Not only does our platform speed the process up, but for groups that are smaller and want to leverage and manage margins in a different way—[with PRophet Influence] they can do the job of four, five, six, ten people, or even multiple departments, all with the bandwidth of maybe one or two individuals.

What’s attractive about this from the POV of the creators, especially micro-influencers?

They want to get jobs. They want to create relationships. But they're not necessarily always business people, they're not necessarily managers. They love creating.

They're happy to have one place where they can receive the briefs, they can have their copy or their creative reviewed and all the comments are in one place rather than having to sift through everything.

These creators are super busy. Often being a content creator isn’t their full-time job. They appreciate a tool that is easy to use, that's available to them, that is accurate and it's fair and free to them. And messaging is all through the platform, too. Just think about the emails that go back and forth in a partnership project with a content creator.

Is there one particular feature that tends to surprise people when you demo the platform to them?

People love the discovery opportunities, ways to find relevant content creators to work with. We've spent a lot of time making sure that our filtering is accurate and it's capturing all the information.

Another key feature is the ability to find an influencer who’s not talking to a competitor. If I'm a brand, I can put my competitors into the tool. When I look for a creator that's topical, then the results of that search will red flag any creator who’s currently working with one of my competitors.

What’s that time worth—avoiding tens of hours that you’d otherwise spend going back and forth, just to find out that okay, this creator is actually not even available to me?

And, you know, this sounds a bit boring, but we're affordable. We're trying to provide a better value.

What’s sort of things do you see being added to the platform in the near future?

We're always looking at new platform content to bring in. We've been asked about things like Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter/X. Right now, the platform’s focus is YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. What’s in our roadmap is bringing in other platforms, and we can talk more about that when we get closer.

We also believe there's a big opportunity to figure out a way for B2B marketers to take advantage of influencers. There's not a great B2B marketplace out there right now for finding individuals that are telling good brand stories that have a business audience.

And we’re also looking at AI to play a much larger role in how we’re discovering and rank-ordering influencers that might be best for a brief, rather than a topic—having AI digest the brief and determine the right creators to talk to based on those factors.

Interested in seeing what PRophet Influence can do to help take your influencer marketing efforts to the next level? We'd love to show you a demo.

Scott Indrisek

Scott Indrisek is the Senior Editorial Lead at Stagwell Marketing Cloud

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