Brands should pursue long-term influencer partnerships: Pulpkey's Amit Mondal
Pulpkey, founded by Amit Mondal in 2017, is an influencer marketing company with a network of over 1.5 million content creators and influencers across different categories. Pulpkey works with Fortune 500 brands like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Instagram, PayPal, Zara and top companies like Rebel Foods’ portfolio, Hotstar, Kingfisher, Taco Bell, Godrej, Mother Dairy, CureFit, Kent, OPPO, The Times of India, and UltraHuman, among many others. In an interview with Adgully, Pulpkey Founder Amit Mondal dwells at length on his company, the trends in the industry, and more. Excerpts:
How is Pulpkey creating success by bringing brands and influencers together? What are your unique strategies that make you stand apart?
So far, Pulpkey has worked with more than 200+ brands. It’s a full-service influencer marketing company that combines art and science to craft modern marketing strategies with content creators. Pulpkey’s current mission is to empower modern brands to adopt creator-powered storytelling and on the contrary help anyone on the planet to pursue the passion economy. Pulpkey has been a unique combination of working partly from home and partly from the office. The reason for this has always been to get talent from every part of the country. Currently, there are 22 full-time members working at Pulpkey from across the country: Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Surat, Jaipur, Guwahati, and more.
Under the full-service model, the start-up works with brands or their agencies to develop full-service, scalable influencer marketing campaigns from scratch. Brands or their agencies can create a campaign brief from Pulpkey’s website, setting goals, target groups, brand persona, and KPIs.
How do you invest in budding talents? Do you have any criteria for choosing such talents?
Right now, we don’t represent talents. We are a full-service influencer marketing company, where we create strategies. The Pulpkey team then works closely with the brand to understand their needs, develop a strategy, and identify the ideal set of content creators and influencers for the respective campaigns. Pulpkey has really young talents in the team and its members either have worked in the advertising industry or are influencers themselves; the service quality, thus, has been admired by brands like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and many others.
How are the roles within the influencer marketing sphere evolving?
In this sector, both client-side and influencer-side roles are evolving. Many companies are setting up internal influencer marketing teams, while influencers are taking on more serious roles, such as working on long-term deals, pursuing acting careers, and stand-up comics. We’ll see hundreds of proper job posts in the next two years.
How big and evolved is India’s creator economy? What are its unique traits?
Due to affordable smartphones and Internet-access packages, as well as digital media, it has become easier to be a creator. Globally, there are 4.2 billion social media users; over 200 million of them are creators and 500 million are part of the ‘passion economy’. In India, the creator economy has flourished tremendously over the past few years; over 30% new creators have started making content over lockdown and slowly but steadily discovered their secret passion.
It will take some time for the Indian creator economy to be distributed evenly among all types of creators. In terms of income, Instagram and YouTubers dominate, and brands with the highest marketing budgets target online spenders in Tier 1 cities. Platforms like ShareChat, Moj, MX TakaTak and Chingari dominate the vernacular segment. Over the course of time, these platforms as well as Instagram and YouTube will start paying a fair amount to all types of creators.
In India, we have seen a shift in advertising and movies, where local stories are getting celebrated versus Bollywood showing the aspiration of rich families; similarly, the creator economy is being distributed among all cultures and all types of designs.
Influencer marketing, a key component driving the creator economy, faces the problem of fake followers. What are the other challenges and how can they be dealt with?
Current creator landscapes are closely related to existing economic systems. Real-time economic inequalities affect creators' economies as well. It only benefits the top influencers and creators, while the vast majority makes a pittance. In contrast to popular belief, not all creators prioritise fame. Rather, the long tail of creators are building, growing and nurturing communities to continue doing what they love. They are not able to sustain their new careers due to a lack of resources, tools, and solutions.
Rather than trying to apply existing models (mid/ pre-roll ads, creator funds) to this long tail, we should look at what is already working and deliver better tools. The creators receive money from their fans. We must continue to focus on what's working, make receiving support easier, and create more enjoyable experiences for fans. A reliable infrastructure can be built by providing sustainable tools to the long tail to ensure continuous support.
A few other problems that creators typically face in today’s time are:
- Growing an audience
- Knowing how to monetise
- How to work with brands and how to sell content
What are the various business models will emerge around influencer marketing?
There are typical agency models where influencers and brand matching happen. The influencer manager roles will keep on spreading across categories. A few interesting blockchain or metaverse start-ups in this space are also evolving.
What are the emerging patterns in terms of vernacular platforms and influencers?
Vernacular platforms like ShareChat, Moj, MX TakaTak, and Chingari dominate short video platforms. As the user base of these platforms grows, more creators will emerge, and then brands will spend money on them. While Instagram caters to the cream layer of the creator economy, these platforms are trying to replace how TikTok emerged in India and its current gap. In the future, these apps might also share revenue with their creators via live shopping, tipping, etc.
How evolved is influence marketing in India? What will be the trends?
The Indian influencer marketing industry is keeping up with the times. Currently valued at Rs 900 crore, it is expected to reach Rs 2,200 crore by 2025 at a CAGR of 25 per cent. The global influencer marketing market size was valued at $4.6 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow by more than 25% annually from 2019 to 2025. There would be more than 10X job opportunities in this space for people who don’t even need to finish the typical education system.
The Indian market is becoming fairly regulated as well as digital marketing budgets are growing significantly. I have gathered the following points or trends that we will see more in the coming days:
- Brand should pursue long-term influencer partnerships
- Shifting from influencers to real content creators
- Brand should create open-ended briefs with a lot of ideas
- Focus on videos. Not always short-form video. Do what suits you
- Brand should use influencers in co-creation
- Purpose-driven influencer marketing is on the rise
- Engagement metrics and comment quality dictate success
- Influencers in the podcast Industry going to be popping up more
- LinkedIn is going to be the new home for a lot of content creators
Influencer marketing is the greatest invention for the advertising and marketing industry and we are heading towards an interesting decade, where videos, NFTs, creator economy tools, etc., are going to change the way we promote our products. Every company will become a media company that creates the content of its own and partners more with the creator side of influencer marketing.