Are the Gaps in Influencer Pay Close to Closing?
As the marketing and advertising industry has continued to grow over recent years, many Influencers have made the decision to make this their full time occupation. Therefore, it's only fair that they want fair pay for their work. Many Influencers say that it isn’t about brands increasing their marketing budgets, but distributing the budgets they do have fairly, educating themselves and becoming part of the conversation and the solution. The Influencer Marketing Industry was worth $6 billion in the year 2020, and there is no doubt that this number is only going to continue to grow.
The ‘Influencer pay gap’ is a disparity between what some Influencers get paid vs other Influencers, despite doing the same kind and amount of work. A pay gap can happen in many different aspects including, race, gender, age and disability.
How do Influencers earn their income?
Payment can come from a number of sources which include brand partnerships, where brands pay Influencers to create content that promotes their products and/or services. Other ways are directly through the platforms themselves, ‘Snapchat paid out £200m to users globally from its spotlight programme last year. Parts of Instagram’s bonus programme are available for creators in the UK. YouTube’s partner programme for accounts with more than 1000 subscribers offers a 55% cut of advertising revenue’.
Although there were already whispers of the racial pay disparities, the pandemic highlighted even more. Adesuwa Ajayi created @InfluencerPayGap and Influencers from around the world anonymously shared their previous rates on campaigns along with the requirements of the campaigns and it was clear to see that there was something not quite right. UK Influencer, Stephanie Yeboah’s experience is another example of; she found herself accidentally CC’d into an email for a campaign she was working and within the email contained rates of a white Influencer on the same campaign. She quickly noticed that her rate was significantly lower, despite having more favourable insights.
Research also showed that men get paid higher than women. In a study by Klear into the Influencer Marketing rates showed that female Influencers were being paid 33% less than their male counterparts, despite making up 77% of the industry. Influencer Nicole Ocran and expert Kat Molesworth co-founded The Creator Union after discovering that "LGBTQ+, disabled, plus-size, black, and brown Influencers were being asked to do work for free, particularly during the pandemic." It could be argued that this is one of the reasons why 'gifting' Influencers has become unpopular, and Influencers are accepting gifting without the promise of posting. The original intention was to reassure brands when selecting the right Influencer to partner with. Aligning the right Talent with a brand is critical to campaign success. Are they suitable for the product? Do they fit the primary messaging? Is the content they create in line with the campaign's objectives? However, as time has progressed another perspective has been observed from the Influencer where it can be seen as a cheaper way to get content from a creator. The MSL UK Report on Influencers pay highlighted that when negotiating fees, white Influencers are nearly three times more likely to generate a positive outcome than their black counterparts.
Influencers, Content Creators and media personalities want their fees to reflect how they appropriately match with the brand and their key messaging, the quality of their work, their reach, engagement and other relevant insights.
Become part of the solution
To start resolving the issue, creator unions are starting to form in order to regulate the situation. Since the creations of these organisations and many others, the changes in pay disparities have increased, although no standards exist yet. Influencers, agencies and brands are also becoming more more educated, defining their rates and are increasing the awareness of the issues in pay gaps. SevenSix’s founder Charlotte Williams said that although there are clear inconsistencies in fees, being a successful influencer is more than possible.
Such pay gaps exist due to there being no set standards and fair rates that have been agreed as market value. An article in the Guardian stated that ‘MP’s have recommended that the government investigate pay standards in the industry as part of a wider review of the Influencer market, citing inconsistent pay rates and evidence of racial pay gap. The Advertising Standards Authority told MPs that a ‘’small minority’’ of influencers command the highest fees, while ‘many are not successful’. It is a competitive but growing industry from $6bn in 2020 to $24.1bn in 2025’’.
The diverse community has a massive impact on brand success in terms of influencer marketing. The culture has an undeniable influence on pop culture, fashion and beauty trends and music. As an agency that represents diverse Talent, we have made over £1.5M in brand partnerships alone in the year of 2022. However, as a Talent Manager and part of an agency that advocates for the diverse community, it is vital that we continue to shine a light on the issues that affect all our clients and stakeholders alike. With the backing of years of experience, VAMP stays clued up by having meaningful conversations and relationships that only increase our knowledge about the ever changing Influencer Marketing Industry.