An interview with CampaignDeus’ CEO: Bringing transparency to influencer marketing


From the fundamental questions every marketer should ask before embarking on an influencer marketing campaign to where he sees the industry heading. I sat down with CampaignDeus’ CEO, Muhsen Syed, and asked for his insight into the burgeoning influencer marketing industry.

What are the most important questions brands and agencies should ask before starting an influencer marketing campaign?

I think this question is best is split into three:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Who are the best-fit influencers for helping you achieve this goal?
  • How will I measure success?

1) What’s the aim of the campaign?

Is it to grow brand awareness, promote a product, drive downloads, push an event / competition, etc.? Marketers should have a clear aim in mind before launching the campaign – this will largely define the types of influencers they should target, and also how much the campaign will end up costing.

2) Which influencers are going to be right for the campaign?

From picking influencers who match your brand aesthetic or campaign message, to properly evaluating their expected performance, to knowing how much to pay each one. This part usually takes the longest. We cover this process in our earlier post on which metrics marketers should review before picking their final shortlist of influencers.

3) Which KPIs should I measure to evaluate the success of the campaign?

Clients with a clear view of what success looks like before the campaign has started tend to be more satisfied in interpreting the results.

KPIs can vary from views or engagement metrics to conversion based (clicks or downloads) or even whether the campaign leads to a brand uplift.

What's the one question that customers ask CampaignDeus most often?

The most common question we get from clients is ‘where does our campaign rank within our vertical or category?’ For example, we worked with a large automotive brand who ran a campaign with travel influencers over the summer.


It’s hard for them to link this campaign to actual vehicle purchases, so what they cared about as a secondary performance measure was how well the engagement for the campaign tracked against our CampaignDeus vertical benchmarks. We were able to identify that their content ranked in the top X% of our Automotive vertical and in the top Y% within our Travel vertical.

The typical questions we get asked in the planning stage are - ‘what are the current engagement rate benchmarks for vertical X or across different products, and how should we work with influencers to maximise performance? Do posts shot outdoors with friends perform better than posts of products in bathrooms etc.’ Our technology is built to answer these kinds of questions.

What question should people ask you, but don’t?

What I’m always surprised by in the influencer marketing industry is the lack of in-depth data-driven insight that exists in other channels. Marketers spend the majority of their time on campaign planning and execution, with post-campaign evaluation often an afterthought.

The questions I think people should ask influencer marketing vendors are:

  • How did the campaign perform against the average for these influencers’ branded posts?
  • What types of posts performed the best? Did full influencer posts perform better than product only posts?
  • Which location was best for influencers to shoot at?
  • Which influencers performed the best and how can I refine their message in future campaigns to maximise impact?
  • How did these influencers perform relative to their usual organic posts?

Tracking return on investment is critical to influencer marketing success. As the prices influencers can command for sponsored content continues to rise these are just some of the questions I’d want to have answered in every campaign I was managing!

What gap in the influencer marketing industry does CampaignDeus fill?

There are three major problems we’re addressing that we feel are missing in the industry:


Let me explain what I mean:

1) Lack of campaign data – there is no central repository capturing which brands have worked with which influencers, and how they have performed. This creates a lack of transparency in the industry.

2) Lack of industry benchmarks – there are no industry-wide benchmarks enabling marketers to evaluate where their campaigns rank within their vertical or against their competitors.

3) Lack of independent reporting – all of the above insight should be provided by a player that has no ‘skin in the game’ with regards to pitching influencers or managing campaigns, and be able to provide in-depth reporting with qualitative advice on what went right or wrong in the campaign.

These are the structural industry problems that we are working on fixing – we covered how we’re doing that in our recent blog post about building a data company

What makes you qualified to lead an influencer marketing startup?

I’ve worked in his industry for over five years now. My first role was for a large media conglomerate helping decide their investments and strategy in this space in London, Los Angeles and New York.

I then managed influencer campaigns, structured partnerships and helped develop technology for clients all over the world, while working for one of the largest global MCNs.

Before launching CampaignDeus, I consulted for startups and brands in the influencer marketing space in the UK, US & Middle East, making sure I was fully aware of trends across markets and helping refine what our value proposition to brands & agencies should be.

What are your forecasts for influencer marketing in 2018?

My top five forecasts for influencer marketing in 2018 are:

1) Increased focus on ROI -  As Influencer Marketing investment Increases, measurement, evaluation and benchmarking will become fundamental part of influencer marketing campaign planning process.

RELATED: Influencer marketing benchmarks: how to measure success

2) Video as dominant force - Video content will continue to rise in popularity- think Facebook, Instagram and maybe LinkedIn as well as YouTube.

3) Disclosure - Regulators will get even tougher with those flouting disclosure regulations

RELATED:  Why disclosure is good for business in influencer marketing

4) Fewer, long-term relationships - Marketers will focus more on building brand advocates than one-off campaigns with rotating groups of influencers

5) Beyond reach - Reach will further give way to engagement, as brands get smarter about the real value generated from influencer campaigns

CampaignDeus is the leading independent provider of influencer marketing campaign data for Instagram and YouTube. Our platform identifies and classifies brand sponsored influencer campaign performance metrics, tracking hundreds of thousands of posts.

We use this data to provide Brands & Agencies with industry insights across verticals, benchmark campaigns against vertical & competitor averages, and equip clients with in-depth reporting and recommendations on how to make campaigns more effective. Get in touch for more details.

Scott Guthrie works with companies to drive business growth in the social age through strategic insight and technical know-how. A former digital director of influencer relations at Ketchum, Scott is now an advisor at CampaignDeus. You can find Scott on LinkedIn and Twitter, or on his blog.