Jack Koch, SVP of research and insights at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), shares findings from a new study about the role creators play in people’s lives, media diets, and purchase decisions — and what marketers need to know about the state of the creator economy going into 2024.
At the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), our mission is to empower the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. In an era when digital video consumption is growing at an accelerated pace, we’re witnessing an unprecedented shift to creator-driven content.
It was clear to us from this evolution that our industry needed a better understanding of creators’ impact. We wanted to know: What role do creators play in consumers’ lives and media habits today? What does this mean for the future of marketing? And how can advertisers make the most of the creator economy opportunity?
To get the full picture, we partnered with Talk Shoppe on a first-of-its-kind research study that combined quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews of not only consumers but advertisers.
Our interviews and surveys of advertisers showed that confidence in creator marketing is high: 89% of advertisers feel positive about advertising alongside creator content, and 92% agreed that creator-produced content can be considered “premium.”1
Meanwhile, our consumer research revealed that creator-driven content plays a unique role in viewers’ media diets, purchase decisions, and relationships with brands. Here are some of the top takeaways we uncovered in The Creator Economy Opportunity: Where Authenticity Meets Impact.
Digital video consumption is at an all-time high, fueled by creators
Creator-driven content is not just part of digital content growth; it’s leading the charge. Our consumer research found that while digital video consumption overall is on the rise, the audience for creator-driven content is growing faster than studio-produced content. In fact, 39% of consumers are watching more creator-produced content than they were a year ago, compared to 22% watching more studio-produced content across devices and services.2
“Before, you only saw creators in the social space. Now, it’s not uncommon to see a creator getting interviewed on TV or showing up to the Met Gala,” one advertiser from a media agency told us. “They are getting more visibility, and with that visibility comes more power, and more dollars are naturally going towards working with them, because they’re easing out into the entire ecosystem.”
To advertisers, creator-driven content is now a must-buy
Sure enough, we found that advertiser dollars are following the creator viewership trend. As viewing continues to shift from linear to digital, advertiser spend is rising to capitalize on the growth. Nearly half of advertisers report they consistently allocate budgets toward creator content marketing, and 44% of advertisers plan to increase investment in creator content in 2024, with an average increase of 25%.3
Creator content was, at one point, an experiment limited to straightforward deals with creators. But the medium matured and advertisers who invested have seen their efforts gain credibility and increase in impact. As one advertiser at a media agency put it, “My use of creative content for advertising used to be focused on reaching niche audiences. Now it is a channel I use as a mass vehicle.”
‘Quality’ content is all about personal relevance
In the world of media buying, “quality” content is often associated with sleek production. However, when considering what consumers truly value about video content, the concept of quality is diverging from traditional assumptions.
In fact, people find video content most valuable when it’s personal and relevant. As one consumer told us, “I value authenticity and relatability as high-quality traits within content. For me these are just as important as audio and video [quality].”
Quality content is about more than just high-quality production. Consumers value personal relevance and engagement above all else. Our research found that viewers were more likely to agree that creator-driven content appeals to their personal interests, features a topic that personally interests them, and is highly engaging compared to studio-produced content.4
Creators drive impact across every stage of the purchase funnel
Our research evaluated the impact of marketing alongside both creator-produced and studio-produced content at every stage of the consumer purchase journey. While both types of content have a strong influence throughout, the ads that ran alongside and within creator content had greater impact in key stages. Appearing next to or within creator content yielded 1.23X higher research and consideration, 1.42X higher loyalty, and 1.3X higher advocacy than appearing next to studio content was observed to do.5
Why? Consumers told us they watch creators to learn about new products and trends, benefiting from their expertise and honest reviews. Compared with studio-produced content, creators bring a level of authenticity and trust that can’t be found elsewhere, and their content allows consumers to visualize products in their daily lives. This compresses the purchase funnel and leads to faster, more confident purchase decisions.
As the channel has evolved, it’s increasingly become a powerful tool for driving action and results at every stage of the funnel.
“Many marketers still think of creator marketing as a brand awareness driver only,” said one advertiser at a media agency. “But, as the channel has evolved, it’s increasingly become a powerful tool for driving action and results at every stage of the funnel, from awareness and consideration to conversion and even advocacy.”
The evidence is undeniable: Creator content is now pivotal to transforming marketing strategies. Armed with deep audience connections and an innovative approach to video, creators craft captivating stories that engage and convert, driving a profound consumer impact.
As the digital media landscape continues to evolve in 2024, taking a proactive stance is essential. Just as the creator economy has matured, so have the opportunities for brands. When you partner with creator-driven platforms and tap into their advertising solutions, you can drive next-level performance and impact. I’m excited to see how advertisers will continue to pair their brands with the depth of audience connection, the breadth of subject matter, and the storytelling magic creators bring.