In today’s complicated media landscape, the content crush is relentless. Tech start-up inPowered has come up with a way to help brands leverage third-party expertise through sharing. “Promoted content that contains third-party affirmation is clearly the most effective type of earned media,” inPowered Co-Founder and CEO Peyman Nilforoush says.
inPowered has come up with its own system for identifying category masters, the Expert Index, which ranks authors by how frequently they write on a topic, how deeply it is covered and how often their content is shared. The material is aggregated and clients can customize a feed by topic or product. Skimming a voluminous stream of information, brands can use the rating scale to quickly identify which articles consumers are likely to find most interesting or helpful, and thus share. Once identified, the material can instantly be served up as native content — reformatted and distributed with the click of a button on the inPowered dashboard.
It’s an elegant solution to a time-consuming task — wrangling the content tsunami into a manageable stream. “We’ve put a firehose on the gusher,” Nilforoush says. In the socially-charged environment in which brands are trying to capture attention, Niforoush says it’s a given that earned media — that which is originated by a third-party and/or shared peer-to-peer — is more sticky in terms of consumer influence, and that third-party validation measurably heightens the value of promoted content. The phenomena is explored in detail by a study inPowered commissioned from Nielsen.
Among the findings:
- Expert content is the only content type to exhibit a strong lift in all three areas of the purchase cycle — familiarity, affinity and purchase (88% more effective than owned content and 50% more impactful than user reviews)
- The independent and unbiased aspect of third-party content such as that collected by inPowered is very important to consumers: 50 percent said they “wouldn’t trust a product’s branded website” for a product assessment, and 61 percent were “less likely to trust product reviews paid for by the company selling the product”
- Expert content is most effective at influencing high price point
purchases (i.e. $1,000+)
“We focus on driving engagement,” says Niforoush, who calls the inPowered approach “real-time content amplification.” The inPowered feeds serve clients only content that has been originated by a third-party (a distinction that can sometimes be tricky for consumers, but sponsored content must be identified, as per FTC rules). To close the loop, inPowered promotes the content to people predetermined “most likely to engage.” The way Nilforoush sees it, inPowered is offering the antidote to click-baiting, “a big problem for consumers but an even bigger problem for marketers.”
Citing a slew of cat and bikini photos accompanied by fun-magnet headlines that click to unrelated articles, Nilforoush saw a market opportunity. And he’s putting the company’s money where its data is. Starting in December, inPowered abandoned the per-click fee structure and began charging only for engagement of 15-seconds or more, or content that is shared.
Clients set their budget, create a log-in and customize their feed and the meter tallies engagements. “If you’re a big brand, you might be focusing on a new product launch — just blasting that out broadly and creating a big impact. A smaller company might be more interested in explaining the product.” Either way, Nilforoush says, “We’re designed to be highly scalable and turn-key.”
Peyman and his brother, inPowered Co-Founder and President Pirouz Nilforoush, are no strangers to market solution startups. The duo founded NetShelter in 1999, building it into the largest community of tech publishers focused on consumer electronics, computing and mobile communication before selling it to Ziff Davis in 2013. They’re hoping to repeat that success with this latest venture, which since its launch in 2014 has amassed clients including Motorola, LG, Disney, Delta Airlines and UPS.
Presenting a case study at the Brand Innovators Mega Trends @CES event earlier this month, Nilforoush emphasized the effectiveness of
real-time content amplification with new product launches, using as an example Motorola’s Moto X phone, reintroduced to market in 2014 after a 10 year absence. “We were able to increase share rate by about 40%, and favorable impressions by 55%,” Nilforoush explains.
“We want to be known as the platform to drive brand engagement,” Nilforoush says. “It’s kind of like we’re helping marketers spread good things about their products while providing consumers information in which they find value.” It’s a credible assessment. After all, with his background, it’s not a stretch to categorize Nilforoush a category expert.
For more information, visit inpwrd.com.