- Viacom acquired influencer marketing company Whosay, according to an announcement on Viacom’s blog. The deal helps Viacom expand into emerging digital platforms and go after next-generation solutions, which company CEO Bob Bakish recently identified as key focus areas of 2018.
- Whosay offers campaign strategy across multiple verticals, influencer talent vetting, casting, content production, distribution at scale and guaranteed performance. Its more than 400 campaigns have garnered more than 5 billion impressions, 800 million video views and 900 million engagements, according to data accompanying the announcement.
- Viacom has worked with Whosay on more than 50 campaigns over the past two years for several of its brands, including MTV and BET. The content featured influencers like singer-songwriter LeToya Luckett, rapper Lil Yachty and actor Keegan Allen.
As marketers are shying away from TV advertising because of declining viewership, the media conglomerate has found new ways to attract advertisers, with the Whosay deal the latest example of this strategy. By acquiring Whosay, Viacom is harnessing the power of influencer marketing, which saw significant growth in 2017, and energizing its own custom branded content solution Viacom Velocity and new Digital Studios unit. Viacom can leverage Whosay’s Match platform that links talent with brands to bolster its diverse verticals and advertising tools.
The news comes as influencer marketing matures beyond its early explosive stage, when numerous companies sprouted up to provide brands with ways to leverage influencers and best practices were unclear. In 2018, the space is likely to undergo consolidation — which the Whosay deal is an example of — as some of the early startups start struggle in an increasingly competitive space. There is also likely to be greater scrutiny of brands' efforts by regulators given that some sponsored posts have not been adequately labeled as such in the past.
Leveraging Whosay’s talent acquisition tools, Viacom can enhance its existing cable channels’ offerings, while gaining new digital viewers and followers and offering advertisers a multi-channel advertising campaign that goes beyond traditional TV buys. Influencer marketing continues to evolve and present new opportunities for marketers. A recent Linqia survey found that 39% of marketers planned to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2018, and more than half are looking to access different types of influencers.
In another example of the cable company expanding into digital marketing services, Viacom and Snapchat recently entered into a multi-year deal, where Viacom will sell ads on Snapchat’s behalf. The deal gives Snapchat access to Viacom’s major advertisers and lets Viacom promise marketers a mostly millennial or Gen Z audience.