What Influencer Marketing Studies Reveal About Creator Pay Gaps And Lack Of Diversity



Studies on influencer marketing have seem to hit an all-time high in 2019 as more and more brands and advertisers have begun to embrace the social trend. The Association of National Advertisers reported last year that 75% of ad companies employ influencers – but what exactly are the demographics of the most successful ones?

According to ZDNet, several studies were recently performed on influencer pricing according to platform, gender, and industry after surveying 2,500 social influencers – and the results are pretty illuminating. Namely, brands must be willing to pay top dollar for YouTube-based campaigns, or take the cheapest route with a Facebook post-based campaign. Instagram posts can range anywhere from $100 per post for nano-influencers (or those with less than 5,000 followers) up to just over $2,000 for celebrity influencers with over half a million followers. 

Most interestingly, regardless of platform, a significant pay gap exists between male and female influencers – particularly on YouTube. Despite the fact that women make up more than 75% of the industry, men reportedly make around $100 more a post in every industry category except for travel. In that industry, male influencers make up 39% of the demographic and earn $570 per post while females earn an average of $615 per post.

PhD candidate Sophie Bishop at Paper Magazine, meanwhile, has spent the last four years researching the demographics of UK-based beauty influencers, as well as the artificial intelligence that brands utilize in the industry. Her findings reveal something deeply problematic about not only A.I.’s role in influencer marketing, but the severe lack of diversity across the beauty industry. 

Prominent beauty brands like Sephora, Clairol, and CoverGirl implement an A.I. tool from influencer marketing network StyleHaul called The Eye. The Orwellian name refers to monitoring software that tracks “real-time, creator-fueled social conversation about products,” essentially measuring the success of social media campaigns with creator demographics like age, face shape, skin tone, and ethnicity. Simply put – the software scans faces to determine which “type” of influencer garners the most engagement socially.

Using the data gathered by The Eye, Paper Magazine created a composite of the “ideal” influencer – and it features a white woman with almond-shaped eyes, a button nose, and a heart-shaped face. Not only do these results suggest a sinister conclusion about the social audience, but pinpoints another result that Bishop addresses in her writing: some A.I. algorithms struggle to even recognize black faces, particularly the faces of black women.

These studies reveal that much work needs to be done when it comes to implementing influencer marketing across diverse creators. Whether discussing the pay gap between male and female creators, or advertisers prioritizing white creators over underrepresented minorities, there is much work to be done in the influencer marketing industry.

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Kat Manos

I'm Kat. I go to shows. Rock 'n' roll, alternative, indie, preferably. Born and raised in LA, spent a decade in NYC, then came back home. Social media expert, writer, music photographer, cinephile, philosophile, and cat mom.