Your Go-To Guide: Influencer Usage Rights

Understanding The Value of Content Itself

This article first appeared on INFLUENCE

Source: Lee Litumbe of Spirited Pursuit

Source: Lee Litumbe of Spirited Pursuit


We know that influencer pricing can vary wildly depending on an influencer’s reach, engagement and content category. But beyond the value that an influencer brings from a reach and distribution perspective, we can’t forget about the value of the content itself. According to ACTIVATE’s 2019 Research Study, brands are repurposing influencer content more frequently than ever before. Beyond an influencer’s feed, we’re seeing marketers share content across:

  • Social: Organic reposting on brand social channels, paid social amplification and whitelisting

  • Digital: Digital marketing including O&O websites, email marketing, programmatic and digital banner ads

  • IRL (In Real Life): Out of Home, In Store and Point of Sale

As brands continue to increase their influencer marketing spends, decision makers are demanding to see more value out of those partnerships. Owning and maintaining usage rights over influencer-created content is an incredibly efficient way to walk away with studio or agency quality work at a fraction of the investment, and paid amplification ultimately allows brands to reach a high volume of desirable consumers at a reasonable CPM, CPC or CPE. Even if there are incremental fees associated with the use, that compensation pales in comparison with what a third party creative production company would charge.

But as brands get savvier about repurposing content, so too do creators and their managers. Usage rights, once considered a bit of an afterthought in talent negotiations for sponsored content, are now a primary factor in influencer pricing and one of the first questions that come up in partnership discussions. Brands should be prepared to provide clarity. Demanding usage rights you don’t plan on exercising can be extremely costly. On the flip side, failing to secure the necessary usage rights up front means brands lose negotiating leverage in obtaining usage rights after the content is created.

Working on an influencer partnership where usage rights may be a factor? Here’s what you need to know:

Understand That Usage Comes at a Price

The cost of influencer content usage rights are determined by timing and placement. Marketers generally approach usage rights in the following time increments:

  • 1 to 3 months: Little to no incremental fee; Can usually be negotiated into an influencer’s baseline fee

  • 3 months to 1 year: Small to moderate incremental fee; Can raise influencer fees up to 2x for macro creators

  • More than 1 year: Significant incremental fee; Can raise influencer fees exponentially for macro creators

And when we layer in where the content will be repurposed, that further complicates things:

  • Social — Most commonly requested usage right. Organic repurposing does not usually warrant an incremental fee. Paid social and amplification typically require a small incremental fee.

  • Digital — O&O website and email marketing use frequently requires modest incremental fees, while banner ads and programmatic require more moderate fees.

  • IRL + Beyond — Generally the most expensive placement for usage. Often reserved for more traditional endorsement deals or ambassadorships.

ACTIVATE makes it easy to set specific usage rights in collaborations and communicate usage term and placement expectations to influencers

The last piece of the puzzle is ownership. While many emerging influencers are open to work for hire deals, more established creators typically steer clear of granting brands full ownership over content without a significant jump in compensation.

Of course there is no exact science to usage right pricing. There is room for interpretation and negotiation. Rates ultimately come down to the tier of influencer, whether the creator has representation and the category of the partnership in relation to the influencer’s primary content category.

Negotiate Efficiently Using Exposure as a Shared Value Proposition

As a rule of thumb, ACTIVATE strives to create partnerships that support a creator value proposition extending beyond compensation. When it comes to repurposing or amplifying content, micro or emerging influencers may think of this as a major value add. Creators at this level are looking for opportunities to assert their category credibility and gain more followers and engagement. Content amplification gives a micro influencer all of these things.

Avoid Over-Scoping

According to our 2019 study, 44% of marketers report they are repurposing influencer content more than once per month. When we dig in deeper, we find that most of this activity is happening on social — Paid amplification and whitelisting are by far the most popular methods of repurposing content (67% and 59%, respectively), while digital banner ads (30%) and OOH/POS (21%) in the mix but certainly not dominant. Brands are thoughtfully picking and choosing where and how to amplify influencer content.

Before you begin securing the finer details of your campaign and casting creators for your next partnership, try to have a general sense of time & placement for content usage. As we now know, this will have a direct impact on pricing. A few key considerations you should be mindful of to avoid paying for usage rights you won’t need:

  • Seasonal content won’t be relevant beyond 3–4 months from the initial publishing date unless you plan on repurposing it the following year

  • If you’re putting significant paid amplification behind a piece of content, that content will likely be fully tapped within 1–3 months

  • We have found Instagram content to be generally most impactful from a native amplification standpoint — You can specify usage according to platform

  • If you may want to repurpose influencer content but aren’t yet sure of your amplification plans, consider pre-negotiating and inserting options into the influencer’s contract

Don’t Relinquish Full Creative Control

Influencers are highly knowledgeable about the content that performs best with their core audience, but when amplification is in the mix it’s important that brands play an active role in defining content expectations.

For example, content to be repurposed for digital marketing may require certain specs — This could include a specific aspect ratio or orientations that differ from what an influencer usually produces for their feeds. In some instances, this may even require an influencer to capture content in multiple formats entirely separate from the content created for their own channels. In fact, our annual study found that over 59% of marketers are tapping into influencers for content creation only partnerships — carving out extensive usage rights up front for content that an influencer may never distribute on their own social channels. ACTIVATE is uniquely positioned to support these type of asks through our Content Only Collaborations feature.

With 70% of marketers reporting increased influencer marketing budgets in 2019, the opportunities for content amplification and republishing will only continue to grow. As influencer content creeps its way across the full marketing mix, we’ll be standing by to see how this practice impacts creator contracts, fuels negotiations and shapes partnerships for years to come.

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Lauren McGrath Shaftel

Lauren McGrath Shaftel is VP of ACTIVATE Studio and Strategy where she leads the team responsible for managed services and SaaS.