Based in Los Angeles, Reach Agency is an influencer marketing company serving a clientele that primarily consists of Fortune 500 brands. Situated in a dynamic workspace in Venice, CA, the agency employs a team of dedicated professionals who excel in creating influential brand strategies. Co-founded by Gabe Gordon and Frank Catapano, Reach Agency places a strong emphasis on helping brands make a significant impact across various social media channels.
From Hollywood to Silicon Beach
Gabe Gordon, Reach Agency’s co-founder, recalls the early days with a hint of nostalgia, “When my partner and I had left William Morris agency 12 years ago, the landscape was vastly different.” At that time, social media agencies flourished but many lacked a clear understanding of video storytelling. On the other hand, traditional creative ad agencies had mastered the art of brand building and TV spots, but the dynamic realm of social video remained largely uncharted.
It was in this gap that Gordon and his partner saw an opportunity. “Originally, we started as a YouTube agency,” he mentions. This might seem narrow-focused today, but in 2011, YouTube was at the vanguard of video content, while many social platforms were still catching up. “As Facebook delved into video and acquired Instagram, along with the rise of platforms like Snapchat, our focus expanded,” he said. The digital landscape was no longer just about YouTube. With the emergence of platforms like Twitch and TikTok, it was clear that the world of social video was becoming multifaceted.
For Reach Agency, it was about understanding where these platforms fit into the broader ecosystem and how brands could leverage them effectively. Gordon elaborated on their approach, “We’ve always aimed to own the strategy and creative process. Our goal is to guide brands in finding their authentic voice and success on these ever-evolving social channels.”
What sets Reach Agency apart, according to Gordon, is their unique ‘secret sauce’: a deep understanding and collaboration with the creator class: “Our strength lies in tapping into this creative class. By understanding their pulse, their narrative style, and their audience’s preferences, we craft strategies that resonate,” Gordon emphasized. This singularity of focus means that every strategy, every collaboration, and every campaign is geared towards elevating a brand’s vision and goals in the influencer marketing sphere.
Gordon pointed out a notable trend among many influencer marketing agencies: representing talent and then pitching those very talents to brands. While this may work for some, Gordon believes there’s a gap in the market for something more genuine. “We perceive a clear opportunity to provide a transparent, dedicated resource for brands,” he emphasized. At Reach Agency, this translates into honest and open collaborations, devoid of any potential conflict of interest that may arise when agencies wear the dual hat of brand consultants and talent representatives.
Reach Agency positions itself as more than just an agency—it’s a guide. “Our aim has always been to assist brands in navigating the continually evolving landscape,” Gordon shared. The objective isn’t just about gaining eyeballs or likes; it’s about ensuring that influencer marketing occupies a significant and effective role in a brand’s overall marketing and communication strategy.
Brands, Creators, and the Challenges In-Between: Reach Agency’s Insightful Perspective
One of the most significant hurdles, according to Gordon, lies in the mindset of many established brands. “There’s a sort of muscle memory from traditional advertising that many brands still grapple with,” he observes. This ‘muscle memory’ manifests in a reticence to relinquish control—a hesitation to entrust creators with the reins of storytelling. Gordon believes this is pivotal: “Brands need to trust creators to craft stories that not only resonate with their audience but also align with the brand’s ethos.”
Beyond the challenge of control is the evolution in the understanding of what a ‘creator’ truly embodies. “Creators today aren’t just content producers. They are entrepreneurs, strategists, and, in many instances, they’re shaping the brands of the future,” Gordon points out.
He cites examples like Mr. Beast with Feastables and Logan Paul’s association with KSI in prime. These creators, unlike traditional Hollywood talents, often have entrepreneurial pursuits intertwined with their content, making them uniquely positioned to collaborate with brands in multifaceted ways.
However, Gordon notes that this potential isn’t universally acknowledged yet. “While we’re making progress, many still view collaborations with creators through the limited lens of sponsored posts,” he says. For brands to truly harness the potential of creators, a broader perspective—one that sees the multifaceted value creators bring to the table—is essential.
The Art and Science of Brand-Creator Collaborations
At the heart of any collaboration is the campaign’s primary goal. Gordon emphasizes that this is always the starting point. “Is the objective primarily awareness? Is it about kindling consideration among audiences, or is it squarely aimed at driving that crucial click, leading to a purchase?”.
The process of selecting a creator is not purely data-driven nor entirely instinctive; it’s an intersection of the two. “We delve into their engagement rate, assess the demographics of their audience, and evaluate their organic reach vis-à-vis the cost,” explains Gordon. This analytical evaluation ensures that the collaboration is efficient and aligns with the brand’s specific objectives.
Beyond numbers lies the essence of the creator—their voice, their ethos, and their alignment with the brand’s narrative. “It’s about identifying that genuine advocate, someone who resonates with the brand’s voice,” Gordon states. The ideal creator doesn’t just promote the brand; they embody its values and become an authentic storyteller, adding tangible equity to the brand they endorse. “It’s not always about collaborating with the biggest names out there. We seek the rising stars, those creators poised to make a significant impact in the near future,” he shares.
Gordon also taps into authenticity and underscores this sentiment, “Influencers are celebrated for being authentic. And how can one truly radiate authenticity if they’re oscillating between promoting multiple brands within the same niche over a short span?”
He further illustrates the influencers’ side, acknowledging that while they have their livelihoods to consider, many genuinely cherish certain brands. This affection, when organic, can be sensed by their audience, making their endorsement more potent.
Gordon believes that when influencers genuinely resonate with a brand and continuously bring fresh creativity to campaigns, brands should recognize and nurture this. “If someone’s passionately advocating for your brand and their contributions are evident, it’s only logical for brands to prolong and fortify that relationship,” he states.
From the brand’s perspective, long-term partnerships provide consistency. As brands evolve, launch new products, or target fresh demographics, having established influencer partnerships offers a stable base. These long-term influencer advocates can effectively communicate changes and introduce new offerings to their followers, ensuring a seamless transition in the brand narrative.
The Nexus of Data Analytics and Influencer Marketing
Gabe sheds light on the pivotal role data analytics play in shaping influencer marketing’s future and how his agency is harnessing its potential: “Data and analytics aid us right from the start—whether it’s pinpointing the ideal influencers or chalking out the broader strategy,” states Gordon.
But where the potency of data truly shines, according to Gordon, is in the realm of performance analytics. The ability to directly correlate influencer posts to revenue generation marks a monumental shift. Today, the metrics dive deeper, elucidating tangible outcomes: “Incorporating established metrics—be it brand lift, purchase consideration, or even return on ad sales—offers a comprehensive view of an influencer campaign’s impact.”
This amalgamation of traditional and novel metrics provides brands with a more holistic understanding. It showcases the multi-faceted benefits influencers can deliver, extending beyond just immediate engagement.
The Power of Influence: A New Approach Beyond Follower Count
The days when follower count was the primary metric to measure an influencer’s impact are waning. Brands are now valuing authentic engagements and the depth of influence more than ever. Gabe delves into this phenomenon, providing insights into how his agency views and leverages this.
“Influence doesn’t have a follower count”, he begins. This statement encapsulates the paradigm shift in influencer marketing. While reach is undeniably important, the essence of influence transcends mere numbers. At its heart, influence is about resonating deeply with a community, and that’s not exclusively the domain of mega influencers with millions of followers; “Influencing a community can’t be boxed into just those with immense reach,” Gordon points out.
The selection of influencers, be it based on their size or niche, largely depends on the brand’s objective. If the primary goal is to maximize awareness, sometimes collaborating with a larger influencer might yield a broader audience, giving brands a better bang for their buck. However, Gordon is quick to point out that the quality of content varies across the board.
Micro-influencers, with their close-knit communities, can often bring about genuine engagements and trust. On the other hand, if the campaign’s intent is purely content creation, the size of the influencer might take precedence, with brands potentially favoring those with a proven track record of high-quality content.
The Future of Product Co-Creation
Gabe firmly believes that influencer-led branding is the future. He remarks, “It’s hard to start a new brand.” But the dynamic changes when influencers come into the picture. Unlike traditional celebrities, who make periodic appearances in films or TV shows, influencers have forged a deeper bond with their audiences, especially Gen Z and younger millennials, through vlogs, entertainment content, and interactive sessions.
“This constant engagement over the years has endowed influencers with a unique ability to resonate with their audience,” Gordon observes. Their deep-rooted connection offers a fertile ground for them to co-create and introduce consumer brands.
While influencers undoubtedly have the trust and attention of their audience, starting a brand from scratch is fraught with challenges. Gordon appreciates the commendable efforts of influencers like Mr. Beast, Logan Paul, and KSI in the food and beverage space, terming it “tremendous.” Delving into the nuances, he notes, “Food safety, ingredient sourcing, and distribution are complex challenges to navigate.”
Gordon envisions a future dominated by creator-driven brands. But to reach there, a collaborative spirit is vital. He underscores the need for private equity markets and industry stalwarts to recognize this potential and partner with creators. By combining the influencers’ innate understanding of their audience with the industry’s operational expertise, brands of the future can be built on a foundation of authenticity, trust, and scalability.
The Dynamic Landscape of Social Media Platforms and Influence
While the core idea behind influence remains unchanged, Gordon observes that new platforms breathe life into fresh creator talent; “TikTok was the birth of a new generation of creators,” he notes. While established creators from platforms like Instagram and YouTube transitioned successfully to TikTok, the real story lies in those who emerged as stars purely through this platform; “you got a whole new generation of creators and that’s what excites me, and that’s really the principle behind social media, anybody can be a Creator and find their audience and find that stardom”.
Gordon’s excitement is palpable when he talks about platforms that promote active engagement rather than passive consumption. He points out platforms like Twitch and Discord as the next frontier. These platforms, particularly popular among gamers, are indicative of a trend where creators seek deeper, more active interactions with their audience. The emphasis is shifting from “watching” to “engaging.”
The Resilience and Potential of the Creator Economy
Gabe Gordon’s perception of the creator economy, especially post-pandemic, is both enlightening and optimistic. The rise of creators is a testament to the democratization of content creation and distribution. Gordon underscores this by highlighting how creators often start with the simplest of tools – a phone, a laptop, or a basic camera.
The pandemic brought about unforeseen challenges across industries, but creators showcased remarkable adaptability. This agility stems from their initial journey, where they navigated the uncertain terrains of the digital world, learned to engage audiences and adapt content based on real-time feedback. As Gordon rightly points out, creators are “paving their own way,” often transcending conventional industry norms. This entrepreneurial spirit is intrinsic to the creator economy and gives it an edge in the ever-evolving digital age.
The gig economy, coupled with platforms that empower creators, has heralded a new age of independence and self-determination. Creators aren’t merely looking to attach themselves to pre-existing structures but are carving out niches, setting trends, and redefining the content landscape.
For aspiring Creators, Gabe’s advice is rooted in authenticity and partnership. His insights highlight some fundamental principles for building a sustainable and impactful creator career.
Aspiring creators must find their unique voices and showcase their genuine selves, authenticity attracts loyal audiences and fosters genuine connections, which is invaluable in the long run, as Gabe says “Being yourself and showing your excitement for the brands always gets everybody excited and it’s really being a true partner, having a great relationship where you can be open and authentic and, working together to create the best work is always, always the best path and we’ll have the best success.”
Creators should focus on delivering high-quality content. Consistent, exceptional work builds credibility, attracts brands, and ensures long-term sustainability in the creator economy.
Gabe Gordon’s Vision: Refining the Creator Economy
“I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” says Gabe.
The effectiveness or value of creators is misjudged, leading to undervaluation or misuse of their unique skill sets. The involvement of various entities like PR agencies, social media agencies, big creative AORs, and standalone companies like Reach Agency adds diversity to the creator economy. However, this diversity can sometimes lead to a lack of standardized approaches or diluted strategies as everyone tries to harness influencers in their way.
Drawing parallels to the segmentation seen in traditional marketing — such as PR agencies, creative agencies, or shopper marketing agencies — Gordon envisions a similar future for the influencer marketing industry. He anticipates a shift towards specialized ‘creator agencies’ dedicated exclusively to the creator ecosystem.
These agencies would not only be more adept at harnessing the full potential of creators but also ensuring fair and ethical practices. As brands increasingly recognize the potential of influencer marketing, there’s a growing need to ensure that this recognition translates into tangible benefits for creators, whether it’s better compensation, more creative freedom, or respect for their personal brand, there’s still a long way to go.
The establishment of dedicated creator agencies would also validate and cement the influencer marketing industry’s position as a vital pillar in the broader marketing ecosystem.
Forecasting the Influencer Marketing Landscape: Gabe’s Predictions
As consumers become inundated with content, they are likely to rely more on trusted voices (i.e., their favorite creators) for recommendations. Thus, creators might emerge as the “new publishers” replacing traditional content hubs for gift ideas and holiday trends.
Gordon suggests that the reach and engagement achieved by investing in platforms like TikTok and collaborating with creators can be far more impactful and cost-effective than a fleeting Super Bowl ad spot. This transition emphasizes the growing power of digital platforms in capturing real-time audience attention.
With the rapid evolution of social platforms, particularly TikTok, brands are faced with the daunting task of generating multiple content pieces weekly. Traditional agencies, with their structured frameworks, might not be nimble enough for this dynamic environment.
Gordon predicts a shift where creators will start replacing or at least significantly augmenting the role of conventional social agencies. Given their innate understanding of these platforms and their audiences, creators can produce more authentic and engaging content faster and more efficiently. This shift could potentially disrupt the traditional agency model, especially for brands aiming to have a strong digital presence.
Live Shopping: The Unexplored Frontier in Influencer Marketing
“I think Live shopping has gigantic potential and people have been talking about it for a while”, states Gabe. “I think it’s just taken a little bit of time for us consumers to really understand the format and start utilizing it, and I feel like that is gonna be the next big thing.”
Live shopping showcases product demonstrations in real-time, engaging millions of viewers and turning them into potential consumers because the ‘live’ element fosters an authentic, immediate connection between the influencer and the audience and this real-time interaction allows for instantaneous feedback, making it a more interactive shopping experience.
TikTok, with its massive user base, is strategically positioned to further live shopping. The platform seamlessly integrates live streams into user feeds, making it easy for viewers to stumble upon and engage with these streams. The beauty of live shopping is the ability to merge content and commerce. With in-app purchasing mechanisms, the transition from viewing a product demonstration to making a purchase becomes smoother.
Live shopping is not just about pushing products; it’s about showcasing them in real-world scenarios. This organic portrayal can significantly influence purchasing decisions.
Gabe’s Reflections on His Influencer Marketing Journey
Gabe underscores the importance of trusting one’s instincts.
For any entrepreneur or professional venturing into unfamiliar terrain, such as the nascent world of influencer marketing, faith in one’s abilities and vision can be the driving force behind groundbreaking achievements. He emphasizes that it’s not merely about identifying and pursuing a lucrative niche or current trend, but genuinely seeking out what resonates personally and provides purpose to one’s professional journey.
Gabe also emphasizes the significance of maintaining high standards in all endeavors. While the allure of novelty and pioneering can be strong, it’s crucial to ensure that the quality of work remains uncompromised. This commitment to excellence not only distinguishes leaders from mere participants in a rapidly evolving industry but also ensures longevity and credibility.
The influencer marketing space, much like the broader digital ecosystem, is in a constant state of flux. The influencers, platforms, and audience preferences of today might evolve tomorrow. Hence, an open-minded approach, coupled with a robust foundation of core values and standards, can pave the way for sustained success.
“As long as you have standards on what you do and you have an open mind, you can do anything”, concludes Gabe.