Pulse Advertising is an independent agency co-founded by Lara Daniel and Christoph Kastenholz in 2014 with the mission to make advertising meaningful, particularly in the social media, influencer marketing, and paid social advertising spheres.
Pulse Advertising has a team of over 100 people and offices across multiple countries. Pulse’s clients include creators and brands of all sizes, from massive stars like Billie Eilish to small creators crafting fantastic content.
Today, we’re speaking with Christoph Kastenholz, CEO and Co-founder of Pulse Advertising, about Pulse’s influencer marketing process, social media trends, and the company’s successful Beats by Dre campaign.
Christoph holds Forbes 30 Under 30 recognition and regularly speaks at events and institutions such as TEDx, Online Marketing Rockstars, Fashion Weeks, NYU, Imperial College, Transformamus, and Bocconi.
When asked about the key factors that have contributed to your company’s success, Christoph shares, “Sales. Persistence. And culture.”
At Pulse’s founding, many brands were not on Instagram and thought influencer marketing was more of a “nice to have” but not a necessary part of their marketing strategy. Christoph and the Pulse team took a strong sales approach across markets globally, which allowed them to build a large team without the help of investors.
In terms of persistence, the Pulse team has consistently done advertising for brands, but they’ve also launched direct consumer brands and started brands with creators. Experimenting with different niches helped the company develop a clear idea of what they are the strongest at – influencer marketing results.
Lastly, culture contributes to a strong belief in the same values and mission across the team.
Social Media Trends
A continued social media trend is the increasing amount of time the average person spends online. As a result, brands are spending less money on TV advertisements and prioritizing social media ads.
Another prominent trend has been a large increase in the demand for measurable influencer marketing results.
Christoph shares, “It used to be that you would book influencers for personality and content, so more for qualitative. It was more of a nice to have for many brands, at least when you talk about the large established brands. What changed is that people spend more and more time on social.”
In recent years, the Pulse team has paired influencer marketing with paid advertising solutions to create engineered solutions to ensure the ideal organic audience is reached to address this challenge.
Christoph shares that managing and measuring influencer marketing campaigns’ effectiveness is more straightforward than traditional marketing, like magazine or TV ads. Influencer marketing campaigns can be measured with views, clicks, reactions, comments, and more.
Another significant trend is what social media platforms are favored. TikTok and Instagram are the two most popular social media platforms that the Pulse team works with. However, other platforms like Pinterest can have good returns for specific brands.
For example, a furniture brand will benefit from Pinterest posts because people find furniture over time. However, Pinterest wouldn’t be ideal for a beauty brand trying to get immediate results from its new product launch.
Crafting Authentic and Engaging Content
A key pillar of Pulse Advertising’s strategy is creating authentic and engaging content with brands and influencers.
Christoph explains, “We always felt there was an opportunity working with people, telling brand stories, and what that meant though is you have narrators – people telling that story that need to believe in it. Sure, you can look at some quantitative factors, and you can look at how many ads they do.”
One thing to consider when choosing influencers for campaigns is whether they have previously worked with advertisers.
For some brands, like a fashion brand, this may not matter because people have many fashion brands in their closets.
However, a brand like Apple likely wouldn’t want to work with an influencer promoting other phone brands because people usually have one phone at a time, so this sends a mixed message.
Ultimately, Christoph shares that quantitative data is critical when choosing influencers for brand campaigns. However, the final decider is often a gut feeling about whether the creator truly aligns with the brand.
Successful Brand Campaign Case Studies
Pulse Advertising has worked with many household names, including MAC, Beats by Dre, and Jumanji.
For Beats by Dre, they crafted an innovative campaign with TikTok star Ashnikko. Ashnikko gave her audience four color challenges inspired by the Beats Studio3 Headphones, inviting her followers to make response videos for a chance to be featured in the final music video made with TikTok user-generated content, a world-first creation.
This campaign drove tremendous results, including over seven billion hashtag challenge views and a 15% engagement rate. The campaign also won a Fold in the Horizon Interactive Awards for Social Media.
Christoph shares, “We found people who had a very strong account and really believed in the campaign, so they produced what was contracted, but a lot of people did more than what was expected, and then in the end, it was a campaign across North America and Europe and even into Asia, and it achieved billions of views on TikTok.”
Another impressive TikTok campaign with MAC aimed to drive awareness of the MAC VIVA GLAM and the Keith Haring collection. One of MAC’s key pillars is supporting equal rights and healthy futures for girls, women, and the LGBTQI+ community. This campaign was a massive success with five million views, twenty content pieces, and a 13% engagement rate.
The Future of Influencer Marketing
Christoph shares, “70% of all advertising is digital. It’s still trailing behind consumer behavior. When you look at how much time people spend on social media as a share of total media and how much the budget of brands goes to social media as a share of overall media, we’re still trailing. We have a big wave ahead.”
One of the changes Christoph has noticed is more and more brands are looking to integrate influencers early in the advertising process. Brands are also frequently giving creators more control over how they present the information to their audience, which is a win for both brands and creators as the content is far more authentic this way.
For brands looking to invest in influencer marketing, Christoph recommends the following:
“I think as a first step. It sometimes helps to do it yourself to run an influencer partnership, try to do a TikTok post on your own, and so on. I think the more you understand and know what you want, the clearer you are.”
This experience can help brands craft their in-house team or better understand what to ask for when working with an agency like Pulse Advertising.
As for Pulse Advertising, Christoph shares that they plan to continue “innovating and succeeding in the influencer marketing industry. We have engineered the best product in influencer marketing, and we’ve brought it to many markets, but we want to do more.”
Amy DeYoung is a freelance blog post writer covering influencer marketing and business topics. As the daughter of two business owners, she's been fascinated by all things business from a young age, which led her to graduate from college with a bachelor's degree in business. When she's not typing away, she spends her time reading nonfiction books and mystery novels, baking scrumptious desserts, and playing with her dog.