Bringing social media content creators and leading brands together has been a challenge says IZEA founder and CEO Ted Murphy. “I wish I could say it’s been an easy path, but the reality is that it’s has been a long struggle to convince brands and agencies to let social media content creators produce ads on their behalf. And it’s been equally challenging to make creators feel comfortable about working with brands while maintaining transparency and authenticity with their audience. But we have done that –and the advertising world and the advertising ecosystem has evolved and caught up with us.”
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook….all major social media players are offering some form of native advertising; some sources predict ad revenue from social media sites will hit $15 billion by 2018. “What’s so exciting is that the market is finally waking up to the opportunity that working with social media creators provides,” says Murphy.
IZEA just announced it had another record-breaking quarter on multiple fronts:
* It had the best quarterly revenue in the history of the company. First quarter 2015 revenue increased 111% to $4.14 million compared to $1.96 million in Q1 2014. This increase was primarily attributable to the creation of a content-only revenue stream through the acquisition of Ebyline in January of 2015 and increases in the company’s existing sponsored social revenue.
*Content represented $1.4 million in revenue, accounting for 33% of total revenues for the quarter; sponsored social represented $2.7 million revenue accounting for 65% of total revenues for the quarter.
*Gross profit for the quarter was $1.7 million, up from $1.3 million during the same quarter last year, an increase of 29.6%.
“We see a future,” says Murphy, “that is going to continue to have hyper fragmentation of content creation and consumption. The tools exist to let everyone become a publisher and that is going to severely disrupt media as we know it. The old model of media companies as a large organization that invests in very expensive infrastructure is fading.”
An example of a blogger whose site grew from a pastime to a full time job is The Suburban Mom—one of the 400,000+ creators registered to participate in IZEA’s creator marketplace.
“I would say that experienced Mommy Bloggers, specifically those that focus on crafts and food, create some of the most amazing content for brands you will ever see,” says Murphy. “They put a lot of extra effort into integrating the brand message into something you would never have thought of. They are so coveted by brands because people share and engage in that content.
“The beauty of IZEA’s platform,” adds Murphy, “is that an advertiser will make a creative brief and on the other side, social media creators get to lend their own voice and experience to tell a story. Some of the content being created is of higher quality than what is produced by major media organizations and the scale of these campaigns are larger than anything an individual media company can do.
“While Americans like to think that everyone has an Internet connection and a smart phone, the reality is that there are still a lot of people who don’t yet have access to the social web. We can expect the creativity and the commerce to keep expanding and for more people to gain access to creation tools and for more brands to look to engage those creators to spread their message,” says Murphy.