Influencer Marketing: Viacom Agrees to Acquire WHOSAY

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Why Viacom’s acquisition of WHOSAY will make it easier for marketers to get creative.

Jan 09, 2018

It’s the great irony of the advertising industry right now: There are more ways than ever to reach consumers, yet it’s increasingly difficult to capture and track their attention. The shifts in the marketplace are even more complicated for marketers thanks to ad fraud and brand safety concerns. And yet, the importance of a good story remains. Now more than ever, premium storytelling influences what people buy and where they shop.

In the year ahead, Viacom’s ad sales team will continue to focus on helping our brand and marketing partners drive measurable results—whether with Viacom Velocity’s branded content solutions, Vantage’s advanced audience buying capabilities as a part of OpenAP, or our original brand programming. The most recent indication of this commitment, announced this week, is Viacom’s agreement to acquire WHOSAY, a leading influence marketer. It’s a logical partnership, as WHOSAY also believes in the power of premium content, data-driven optimization, and young, diverse audiences.

In general, influencer marketing exemplifies how data and technology can open up opportunities for audience engagement. It’s is one of the fastest growing segments in advertising, and is increasingly in-demand as an efficient way to change the buying behavior of receptive audiences. According to data published by eMarketer, 70% of agency and brand marketers say they will increase influencer marketing budgets in the year ahead and more than half of marketers plan to run campaigns that leverage multiple types of influencers. Mary Meeker, the Kleiner Perkins partner who releases an annual must-read on the state of the internet, even mentioned influencer marketing as a top trend last year.

When Viacom started working with WHOSAY two years ago, the idea was to drive awareness for our programming and expand the distribution of our brands. Since then, we’ve collaborated with WHOSAY on more than 50 campaigns. Being on the client side made it possible for us to play with the format and explore the storytelling possibilities. It also exposed us to WHOSAY’s creative production process, influencer matching platform, and omnichannel distribution. It was clear from the early days of the partnership that our scale mixed with WHOSAY’s specific expertise strengthened the operations of both companies.

The acquisition will mean that we can offer marketers a more holistic solution to meet their goals across platforms and audience segments. WHOSAY was an early mover in the influence marketing industry, and to-date has executed more than 400 media campaigns for major brands. It will add more social media marketing to our linear, digital, and mobile solutions, and will fuel our new digital studios unit, led by Kelly Day, to produce short-form content at scale. Thanks to WHOSAY’s shopper marketing division, we’ll also be able to offer omnichannel content and retail activations for brands within physical stores.

The acquisition is another way we will expand into next-generation platforms. It will mean, for example, that when an advertiser comes to us wanting to drive awareness and sales of a new product, we can devise a campaign strategy that identifies a custom target segment across networks and platforms, create a cross-channel content and distribution plan, and provide platform-specific results. All of which are great for business, and for content. It will be a new opportunity to work with brands and marketers to find the cool, creative stories that will entertain our young and diverse audiences.