Guest post by Mason Adams
Compared to print and web, mobile advertising is cheap. A print insertion can cost $40 CPM (Cost Per Thousand) while popular sites like Gawker sell banners for $10/thousand. Mobile averages $2.85.
This summer Mercedes hired 5 Instagrammers with the mobile-centric agency Tinker Street to shoot their own road trip in the new CLA class - the person with the most likes at the end of the trip won a 3 year lease on the car.
“Take the Wheel brings together some of Instagram’s most influential photographers including: Paul Octavious(432,000 followers), Tim Landis (523,000 followers), Michael O’Neal (487,000 followers); Alice Gao (538,000 followers); and Chris Ozer(503,000 followers). Each “like” from their followers will bring them closer to the car.”
It’s a direction many brands and agencies are experimenting with and it begs the question: are the photographers being paid for their images or for access to their followers?
According to the Mercedes social media lead, the CLA Instagram campaign reached almost 90 million impressions (number of photos multiplied by the number of followers on the 5 accounts). At $2.85 CPM that comes to a media buy of $256,500, or a minimum fee of $50,000 per photographer (on top of the normal creative fees and expenses). Except that engagement on Instagram is normally 18 times higher than other mobile services. On the upper end, that’s $900,000 per photographer. Even without knowing the exact numbers, it’s easy to speculate that by hiring Instagrammers, Mercedes got the deal of a lifetime in advertising.
Photography is still the most important and impactful tool for advertisers to spread their message. This isn’t just an opinion, it’s reflected over and over in the statistics of companies that use photos to promote their products online. If educated about the true costs of advertising, I imagine that photographers with a large online audience would think twice about selling their followers out for a 3-year car lease.