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Juan Ortega: Insights on the Influencer Marketing Space in Colombia and LATAM

Juan Ortega

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Juan Ortega: Insights on the Influencer Marketing Space in Colombia and LATAM

Juan Ortega: Brands should beware of ‘vanity metrics’ such as impressions and likes. Impressions are only people that swipe up. Your brand appeared but not a soul saw your content. If you as a client receive impressions as a KPI, please push it forward with reach. Reach is how many people watched your content. And if you are able to, push it forward with things like qualified leads, conversion, CTR, CPA, CPE. There are so many KPIs you can ask for that can bring value to your business.

Juan Ortega started his work career at an engineering company before proceeding to France for his first master’s degree in international business specializing in banking risks. He returned to Colombia hoping to work in investment banking. Juan would instead find work at Caracol Television where he was brand manager for five years. 

It was while here that Juan had his first experience working with influencers. Awareness skyrocketed every time Caracol developed content with the creators.

“One day I received a call from my current boss asking if I wanted to help develop an innovation department. I said I don’t have a clue but I like it. So we started working in a little agency called Swim whose main clients were Falabella home centers, big retail stores like Walmart or Office Depot. We developed the innovation department for them. And it was very successful. We took this department to the rest of GroupM which has three agencies – Mindshare, Mediacom and Wavemaker.”

GroupM would later merge with Motion Content Group (MCG).

“MCG is the real content company at GroupM. They saw what we were doing and told us ‘You have to be part of us’. Since December 2019, I have been head of MCG for Colombia.”

Motion Content Group

MCG has four streams of revenue.

The first and largest is investment in productions such as movies, TV shows and series.

“The best example is this movie called ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’. It’s a Turkish movie. Financed by MCG. We get something called the first window to distribute that and get our clients product placement.”

Second, distribution.

“We take those and sell them to other companies. For example, ‘Miracle in Cell No. 7’ was first sold to a TV channel in Turkey and then sold to Netflix.”

Third, licensing rights.

“We can create hoodies or whatever you want from the movie, TV show, etc.”

Fourth, brand productions.

“This has to do with creating content for our clients. And 80 percent of what we do here in LATAM in branded productions has to do with influncer marketing.”

The wealth of market data MCG and GroupM own is a competitive advantage in the influencer marketing space, Juan believes.

“We have the view of a company that historically has been working with traditional media. We have all the data. Reach, awareness, frequency. That mathematical and administrative side is very important for clients. But also have the sensitivity from the creative space. When you mix those worlds into one, you create an outstanding product.”

Influencer Marketing Versus Traditional Media

Juan sees influencers as having the ability to reach people that traditional media cannot. That was one of the main reasons for his interest in the influencer marketing space. He however realized he could not approach influencer marketing in the same way he did traditional marketing.

When you work with traditional media, you just tell them what to do. Like give an order. ‘This is the advertisement’, ‘This is the campaign’, ‘You broadcast this one’, ‘I need 1,000 TRPs. See you next month and give me the report’. The first time I worked with an influencer here in Colombia, the first time I talked to him he told me, ‘You know this campaign will cost you like 60 million Colombian pesos’. And I was like, ‘This is way out of proportion’. It was a shock for me to see how expensive it was to work with the YouTuber. But I started to understand, you cannot compare influencers with traditional media.”

He had to develop a different technique of approaching and measuring influencer impact.

“You have to start developing a different narrative for influencers. If you fall into the same game of radio and television, you will lose all the time. But if you take a conversation on how this will create a better brand or get new consumers or reach new audiences or create virality, this is a conversation that has nothing to do with television. Qualified leads, conversion rate and so many other things have nothing to do with traditional media.”

Key Observations on Influencer Marketing in LATAM

Juan has made several observations of LATAM’s influencer marketing space.

First, celebrities charge what they want.

“It has nothing to do with real reach or real metrics. They are charging whatever they feel like. ‘I just woke up feeling that I want a million dollars’. But do the numbers support the amount of money you are charging? It’s something that has to be changed because if you don’t change that behavior of influencers charging whatever they want, traditional media is going to win that money.”

Second, brands do not understand the power of a good narrative.

“Brands normally tell you, ‘I want him to come out showing my product and say this is the value’. That’s not what consumers want to hear. They don’t want to see boring, crude placement. As content creators, we want unbranded productions.”

Third, ‘vanity’ metrics are misleading.

“Influencers tell you ‘I did this campaign and reached 100,000 people or had 100,000 likes’. We don’t really care about likes, shares and comments. Those are vanity metrics that are not adding value to the business. What we want is how many qualified leads are you able to bring to my webpage? How many conversions are you able to create for my company? How are you able to tell a story that maximizes my reach?”

Fourth, brands, agencies and influencers don’t always factor ‘double eye viewing’.

“If I pay you to contract 100 influencers with 1 million followers each, of course they’ll share an audience because that’s the nature of social media. If you tell me the unique reach is 100 million persons, that’s not true. In reality, you will probably reach 80 million and the rest is shared audiences. If you are able to bring that information to the client and tell them the real data supported by these kinds of facts, they will start to see influencer marketing as a real deal.”

Fifth, brands sometimes perceive influencers as a nice-to-have and not a real opportunity for them to increase brand awareness.

Offering Guidance for Brands Learning the Ropes

Juan aims to guide brands that are still in the early stages of content marketing so they can transition to more sophisticated forms of influencer marketing.

“Here in Colombia, content marketing has a long way to go. Normally clients want basic content. You have to give them your hand and walk with them and guide them to really good content. We have had experience with other clients that start like that. But then we started working with them and created snackable content.”

Still he believes the industry is on the right trajectory.

“The content world in Colombia is going through a very good patch. Companies are becoming more aware of the need for a content/influencer strategy in their campaign. Our job is to make it more visible and explain the benefits of doing content marketing with influencers.”

Common Mistakes according to Juan Ortega

Juan sees a major mistake creators make is to have arbitrary fees.

“It’s a mistake. They should perceive themselves as media and like a TV channel and not as celebrities. They have to watch out for the content they create for themselves. They have to be aware of all the accounts they make through all the media. If you work with a brand then go ahead and start talking about religion or politics, then you are shooting yourself in the foot. You have to be aware that you are a brand and behave like that.”

Brands on the other hand sometimes have an incorrect understanding of how influencer marketing works.

“Brands think that if influencers talk about and mention their brand all the time, and the core characteristics, they are going to increase brand equity. That is false. Brand equity is constructed by good narratives, good storytelling, salience, significance, share of bucket and several brand health metrics that we have to be aware of and it’s not only selling.”

Brands fail to give influencers space to create their content.

“If I hire you, you are an expert in creating content for your social media. And if I tell you what to do, that’s micromanagement. If on the other hand I tell you, this is the campaign, this is what I expect from you, these are the objectives, and you come up with your idea, it is going to work better. You as an influencer will be more satisfied. The brand will be more satisfied because it will reach the KPIs.”

Influencer Marketing Tips for Brands

Juan offers a number of tips for brands looking to prioritize influencer marketing in their marketing strategy.

First, brands should beware of ‘vanity metrics’ such as impressions and likes.

“I do think Impressions and impacts say nothing whatsoever. Impressions are only people that swipe up. Your brand appeared but not a soul saw your content. Impressions have to be eradicated. If you as a client receive impressions as a KPI, please push it forward with reach. Reach is how many people watched your content. And if you are able to, push it forward with things like qualified leads, conversion, CTR, CPA, CPE. There are so many KPIs you can ask for that can bring value to your business.”

Second, trust the people behind the content creation.

“For example, if you hire us to create content, I have been working with creating content since 2010. I really know my business, so let me do my job. I will come up with a good idea that will meet objectives and have very good storytelling.”

Third, stay involved throughout the campaign.

“Some clients, after approving a campaign, disappear and only come back for the result. Brands have to be involved in the creation, have to go to the production, and participate in the process. Be there. Be present.”

Fourth, approve work on time.

“Because sometimes you send a video and it’s approved two weeks down the road.”

Looking to the Future

Juan is working to increase MCG’s market share.

“We have so many boutique companies creating good content but are really small compared to MCG. But our clients (we have more than 195) are going to those companies instead of working with us because they don’t know if GroupM and MCG provide the service. That money flowing into smaller companies? I want to take it for MCG.”


Juan Ortega
Juan Ortega

Juan Ortega is Head of Motion Content Group (part of GroupM) of Colombia,. He is a marketing strategist focused on helping brands connect with consumers through powerful, captivating stories. Juan previously worked at Caracol Television. He has a degree in industrial design from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, a masters in international business from Iéseg School of Management in France and an MBA from the Universidad de Los Andes. Juan lives in Bogota, Colombia.

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