Unveiled during Ogilvy's signature digital series Ogilvy On, the report explores the emerging trends, hot topics and strategic approaches that will define campaign activations in 2022 and beyond.

The report reveals that influence work performs best when integrated into the wider communications and marketing efforts. By integrating with paid media and testing against traditional ads, it can be evidenced how influencer-led creatives impact the bottom line.

Ogilvy found that for every channel that influence is added to, the potential to increase ROI by up to 30% is introduced. At the intersection of the marketing mix, PR and influence are increasingly integrated.

"Influence is a key ingredient, not a garnish," says Rahul Titus, Ogilvy's head of influence for the United Kingdom and EMEA. "It's growing and growing fast. In the last 11 years, I've seen the industry mature right from its infancy, through to the bourgeoning adolescent we know today, with no sign of slowing down."

"Throughout our report, we showcase the key growth areas — the industry's confidence and indeed the newfound infrastructure — which makes its positioning undeniable. The future of influence is the future of marketing, and in 2022, the brands who recognise this will be the brands that we’re talking about in 12 months' time," adds Titus.

According to Ogilvy PR, in 2020 the B2B influencer industry was estimated to be worth $4.6-billion; this trend is expected to continue in 2022. The report shows the reason for this shift is that online content drives purchase decisions, no matter the industry.

But for B2B influence to be effective, brands must identify the right people and platforms for content, says the report. Best B2B influencers can be a business's own employees — serving as a real human face for products, addressing audiences as individuals. Beyond LinkedIn, the report reveals some of the best channels can be podcasts or audio, where longer-form storytelling can shine.

Ansley Williams, Ogilvy's head of influence for North America, says, "I've been fascinated to watch and grow with the influencer space since it was called 'blogger marketing'. But 2022 is truly the resurgence of real; we're growing up."

"The industry is focused on real people calling brands out for not being real regardless of platform, environment, or experience changes. It's doubling down on real and dropping the 'r' from influencer marketing to focus on real influence," adds Williams.

Insights from the report also showed that inclusive influence equals better results, but brands must mind the pay gap. Data showed how certain demographics were being underpaid.

In response, Ogilvy has launched the Maximum Margin Rate, the first initiative of its kind, to ensure influencers will be paid fairly for their work. Ogilvy now also runs quarterly diversity audits for its influencers in the United Kingdom.

This has increased diversity casting across Ogilvy United Kingdom campaigns from 5% to 15%, a number that is reflective of the United Kingdom population. And individual brands within Ogilvy's roster have now increased diversity in casting by 46% as a result.

In the report, Ogilvy also explores what the metaverse will mean for influencer marketing. Although the plans for the metaverse will not be fully realised for at least five to 10 years, consumers are already gravitating towards the technological suite that underpins the concept.

The report predicts that authenticity will be the key draw for audiences. Post-pandemic, the façade of many digital personas is fading, allowing raw, unfiltered personalities to prevail.

Individuals are encouraged to download Ogilvy’s 2022 Influence Trends Report.

For more information, visit www.ogilvy.co.za. Alternatively, connect with them on Facebook or on Twitter.