It used to be that the celebrity endorsement game was mainly played in an arena wired with TV, radio and print. Now, with Facebook and Twitter at brands' and celebrities' fingertips alike, the rules of that game have changed. Witness the uproar over paid tweets, as CNN highlights above.
It's a tricky area, which has created an opportunity for firms such as Ad.ly to help brands and celebs navigate the choppy seas of celebrity endorsement in a highly social, visible and transparent era.
“We are pioneering the celebrity endorsement market in digital media, tapping the $50 billion spend on endorsements worldwide as well as the $35 billion spent in digital advertising," comments Ad.ly CE Arnie Gullov-Sing to Online Media Daily.
The social matchmaker pairs brands and celebrity endorsers on social networks, and recently completed a beta test on Facebook – which Ad.ly finds at least twice as effective as Twitter “in driving actions, including 'likes' and comments among social network users.”
"Social actions happen more naturally on Facebook than on Twitter, because as a consumer, you can easily see who else has liked or commented on a piece of content, which makes you more likely to join in the conversation," says Gullov-Singh.
The trial compared comparable endorsements on Facebook and Twitter based on six marketer's brands and 12 celebrity endorsers. Facebook generated 50% to 100% more actions per celebrity endorsement — not surprising since Facebook is the planet's social networking giant, with six times more monthly uniques than Twitter.
Ad.ly has announced that for 2011 they are updating their “fan / follower minimum to 25,000 for Facebook “Like” Pages, as well as Twitter and MySpace accounts.
Ad.ly states, "If you are an Ad.ly Influencer with fewer than 25,000 fans / followers, we have taken you out of market until such time as you reach the new minimum on at least one network."
Now sharing its metrics, Ad.ly's new Consumer Influence Index tracks the celebrities that drive the most consumer traffic to advertisers’ sites.
“If people are the new publishers, then people are also the future of advertising, and celebrities are the new ‘prime time.’ That’s why we define influence as the ability to get people to visit places on the Web. This simple metric is essential to social media marketing. It’s how brands will decide where to spend their money,” said Gullov-Singh.
Currently Top 10 on its Consumer Influence Index:
1. Lauren Conrad
2. Kim Kardashian
3. Khloe Kardashian
4. Snoop Dogg
5. Kourtney Kardashian
6. Paul Pierce
7. Michael Ian Black
8. Jenny McCarthy
9. Lamar Odom
10. Mark Cuban
The weirdness of that list (Mark Cuban? Michael Ian Black?) shows that the celebrity endorsement game remains elusive and unpredictable.
Still, you just have to look at the celebrity endorsement disasters — Tiger Woods/Nike, Michael Phelps/Kellogg, Michael Vick/Nike + Reebok, Kate Moss/Burberry + Chanel, etc. — to see why brands might reach out to a firm for help.
Naturally, skeptics abound.
“No amount of celebrity endorsement can replace a well-crafted message and execution," says Ace Metrix CEO Peter Daboll.
"A celebrity is not a cure-all. It's not something where if you add a celebrity in you don't have to worry about the ad anymore…It's the message and how it resonates with consumers that matters. In most cases it's a contrived relationship between the message and the celebrity, and people look at it and go, 'what?'"
Are brands wasting their time with paid celebrity endorsements on social media? Post a comment below.