This article is a follow-up to “Why Celebrity Endorsements Are Relevant in 2016 and Choosing The Right Match” originally posted on the Affinio blog.

Are celebrity endorsements losing their luster?

When the right celebrity is used to promote a brand or product, the results can not only be financially rewarding but memorable. But after some big celebrity endorsement disasters this year (Ryan Lochte, anyone?) and the growing popularity of influence marketing and smaller-scale influencers, have celebrity endorsements lost their luster?

Engaging celebrity influencers costs a pretty penny – from hundreds of thousands to millions, depending on the deal. Despite the criticism of the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements, in the past year alone we’ve seen numerous big deals arise that have propelled brands and products forward. One of the more notable endorsements of the year being Rihanna and PUMA. In 2016, the star released a line of PUMA sneakers that immediately sold out. Puma’s CEO shared in a statement, thanks mostly in part to Rihanna’s contributions, “We continue to see better sell-out of our products in the stores, as we feel consumers are getting more interested in our brand and products again.

When matched correctly, like in the Rihanna example, celebrity endorsements remain a powerful way for brands to engage consumers, stay relevant, and generate buzz.

However, how brands choose these endorsement partners is changing.

CEO and Co-Founder of Affinio, Tim Burke shares that historically, “An overemphasis on celebrity influencers and a hyperfocus on the large audiences they tend to bring has led many a marketer down a path that lacks depth and longevity.” (Quote via: CMO.).

You see, the name of a celebrity and the size of their reach does not correlate to success in today’s diverse media landscape. While attaching a name like “Katy Perry” to your product brings about a sense of notoriety and perhaps favorable publicity, at the end of the day, unless Katy is reaching your ideal audience and your values align with Katy’s, the endorsement lacks context and meaning. The result: an unsuccessful, ineffective, expensive, partnership.

How can brands enhance the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements?

As Tim shares, “If brands are going to invest hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, they need to understand the audiences behind the influencers and find quantifiable data that backs up their decisions.

To improve the effectiveness of celebrity endorsements, marketers and brands must understand the connection between their audience and the star’s audience, or if there even is one. They must then align the goals of their brand, the goals of the endorser, and the interests of the audiences targeted. This approach, made possible by data, applies to contracting the biggest names in the business, to the smaller niche “celebrities” making videos in their basement.

Affinio allows you to identify the celebrities and influencers with high affinity to a brand and vice-versa. By relying on interest-graph segmentation, marketers and brands remove the guesswork associated with endorsement deals and instead are empowered with data-driven recommendations.

Validating the Brand’s Audience

To show an example, I analyzed the audience of a haircare brand to identify what celebrities are a good fit based on audience interests and affinities. In analyzing the audience, we can see that interest-based communities of beauty fans and fashion fans are present. Looking at the top celebrity interests of the entire audience, we can see the likes of Khloe Kardashian, Lauren Conrad, Lucy Hale, and Ashley Benson to name a few.

Audience Visualization

Top Influencers

We have validated that these celebrities resonate with the haircare brand’s ideal audience – beauty and fashion fans. But what about the endorser’s audience? Do they attract these communities as well?

Validating the Celebrity’s Audience

Let’s say Lauren Conrad is our top choice as a celebrity endorser. Conrad, a reality TV star turned fashion and beauty mogul, sounds like a viable option. But unless the haircare brand can validate and understand what interest-based communities she is attracting, they may want to wait on signing the dotted line. Brands need to ensure that the communities endorsers are attracting align with the communities brands want to reach.

I then analyzed Lauren Conrad’s audience and identified twelve interest-based communities within her audience – including beauty and fashion fans (the ideal audience for the haircare brand).

Taking this one step further, we can even validate how many of Lauren Conrad’s followers are already following the haircare brand on Twitter. If the goal of pairing with a celebrity is reaching new audiences and Lauren’s audience were already customers, then the pairing wouldn’t serve its main purpose.

Other Important Factors of Consideration

Of course, any brand will need to consider other factors in their candidates aside from popularity and relevance such as the probability of risk and brand fit. Note, these celebrities were identified based on their relevance to the overall audience. However, depending on what type of campaign the hair-care brand is looking to produce, they can also use Affinio’s platform to dial into niche audience clusters and find the smaller scale, but highly relevant, influencers or “celebrities.”

Taking an audience-first approach when identifying which celebrity to tie to your brand, big or small, is key to developing an effective endorsement pairing leading into 2017.

To learn more about identifying celebrities or influencers for your brand, [Request a demo]

Originally posted on the Affinio Blog