Charting Uncharted Territory — How Traditional Agencies Are Adapting to Influencer Marketing

How are traditional advertising agencies keeping up with the influencer marketing trend? Here, we look at how agencies are navigating this influential marketing genre.

Influencer culture has taken over the world — but has it completely conquered the marketing world? In this fast-paced space, brands continually seek smart ways to connect with their target audience. In recent years, the advertising world has been marked by a massive transformation — moving away from traditional advertising methods to embrace increasingly digital avenues for promotion. The rise of influencer marketing is one of the more significant trends helping reshape the ad industry in the last decade.

The Meteoric Rise of Influencer Marketing

Using celebrities and public figures to sell products is nothing new. After all, brands have long hired famous actors, athletes, and musicians to endorse their products and services on television, billboards, radio, and print.

However, the rise of social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and more recently, TikTok has minted a new class of social media celebrities — with massive followings and influence over their fans — commonly referred to as “influencers.” These influencers have become a marketing juggernaut for brands looking to promote their products and services to a younger, more digital demographic.

Influencer marketing strategically uses social media stars to promote brands, products, or services to their audience on their social channels — an approach that has grown exponentially in popularity, particularly among Millennials and Gen Z. As social media platforms thrive, influencers wield significant influence over consumer behavior.

Here are some of the top reasons influencer marketing has such an outsized influence on advertising.

Where Influencer Marketing Excels

Niche Audiences and Targeted Reach

One of the main advantages of influencer marketing is its ability to precisely target niche audiences. While traditional advertising can reach a mass audience, it often lacks relevance to more specific demographics. By leveraging the power of influencers, who have amassed loyal followings within particular niche groups, brands can connect with audiences who are genuinely interested in their wares or services — creating a more meaningful and significant engagement. This is a departure from the more traditional approach of reaching as many people as possible, whether they’re interested in the product or not.

One-Way vs. Two-Way Engagement

Traditional advertising is a bit of a one-way street, offering limited engagement opportunities with a brand’s target audience. Companies produce ads and hope people will see or hear them and act. Influencer marketing has upended that mono-directional approach by creating a space where brand promotion is more engaging, authentic, and relatable — letting brands partner with influencers who have cultivated a loyal following that essentially hangs on their every post, purchase, and stylistic whim. And this often enables them to promote a brand’s offerings more organically than traditional routes, making influencer marketing a go-to advertising tool because it offers a more tangible (and measurable) connection to their target audience.

Not Just for Big Brands

Influencer marketing has also disrupted the traditional advertising model by making it easier for smaller brands to compete with major industry players. In the past, large brands with big advertising budgets were able to dominate the market. Influencer marketing has upended this status quo, allowing smaller brands to work with influencers who actively engage their dedicated following and ultimately reach their target audience more effectively.

Measurable ROI and Engagement Metrics

In traditional advertising, success is typically measured by the reach and frequency of ad views but often struggles to measure the direct impact of its marketing and ROI. In contrast, influencer marketing offers more transparent, measurable outcomes, letting brands analyze performance, track conversions, and measure direct impact on their bottom line. Success is typically measured by engagement, such as likes, comments, shares, and saves — a more data-driven approach that empowers brands to make increasingly informed decisions which has led to a greater emphasis on creating engaging and shareable content.

However, there are also profound benefits to more traditional forms of advertising that we should keep in mind.

Benefits of Traditional Advertising

Broader Reach and Wider Audience

Traditional advertising excels at achieving a broader reach and vast audience because television, radio, and print — despite digital incursions — have retained sizable viewership and listenership. Recent studies have underscored the enduring power of television, with 88% of people watching TV daily, which means brands that advertise via traditional commercials can reach diverse demographics — including those less engaged with digital platforms.

Trust and Reliability

Consumers see TV advertising as more trustworthy, with 63% acknowledging its reliability. This legacy of trust is built from the presence of reputable brands on TV and print media, conferring a deeper sense of legitimacy.

Emotional Impact and Brand Building

Traditional advertising has a unique capacity to evoke emotions that can leave a lasting impression on viewers. TV commercials craft memorable experiences with masterful storytelling, visuals, and curated music choices. This kind of potential outsize emotional impact can help cement brand recognition, fostering deeper connections with consumers. When TV advertising is part of an omnichannel campaign, with print ads and out-of-home signage, the brand message can reach consumers at key touchpoints in their daily lives.

It’s a Complementary World — Traditional Agencies Are In a “Yes, And” Frame of Mind

Instead of choosing between marketing modalities, agencies are leaning into the strengths of both traditional and influencer marketing, finding ways to stitch cohesive, blended strategies together. By combining the two, brands can leverage the strengths of each approach, maximizing impact. While traditional methods cast a wider net, raising brand awareness, working with influencers can provide a more targeted approach that reaches specific niche customer segments more successfully.

Many traditional advertising agencies have created social-focused teams that specialize in leveraging influencer marketing and other social-based marketing. These teams sometimes partner with influencer marketing agencies, whereas others are beginning to manage their own influencer engagements. Perhaps unsurprisingly, every major agency holding company has been on “a shopping spree,” snapping up influencer marketing firms, revealing how forecasting gurus see the trajectory of the industry. Traditional agencies are learning to adapt more quickly to technological shifts in the landscape, and buying up companies with specific expertise has proven to be the fastest way to get up to speed — or, at the very least, not fall woefully behind.



Brands are approaching advertising by shifting focus from a brand-first approach to one increasingly centered on the individual, revolutionizing how success is measured. With the growth of digital-first marketing, smaller brands are better able to compete with larger ones, and smaller niche audiences are increasingly feeling more seen, with brands increasingly recognizing the value of leveraging influencers and even micro-influencers). New features, tools, and guidelines are helping make influencer marketing a more transparent and accountable avenue, ensuring that brands can engage across the spectrum and feel safe as they do so.

The more things change, the more critical it becomes to position your brand for future success. If you need help navigating the increasingly complex waters of advertising today, Creative Circle has social media and traditional marketing experts ready to help craft cohesive strategies for your brand — ones that will move the needle.