Behind the Buzzword: How to Make Authenticity Measurable!

Photo credit: John Schnobrich


Undoubtedly, authenticity is one of THE buzzwords in influencer marketing. If you ask five marketers you would probably get 5 different explanations – so we asked ourselves, how can we make authenticity measurable? As outlined in our previous article there are several factors to consider. 

This post focuses on the quantitative side of things and shows the most important factors you need to consider when assessing the authenticity of an influencer. 


The Audience Insights  

The first factor looks at the obvious: the followers of an influencer. When collaborating with influencers, brands should always keep their target audience in mind, hence also having a closer look at the influencers’ audience or followership. To assess whether their followers are real and/or trustworthy, it’s recommended to look at the following data points inside their audience data:

• Audience Location: Look at the top countries and top cities where followers are based to check if these fit the influencers’ location. High amounts of followers based in countries other than the country where the influencer is usually located should be looked at closely. Huge differences might be a sign for fraudulent followership. 

• Audience Credibility: Besides the audiences’ location, brands should also filter influencers based on audience authenticity factors such as the avatar, posting habits, the bio description, and their reachability based on the followed vs the following ratio. It can be quite time consuming to research all these factors manually by yourself, but we’ve summed them all up in the Audience Credibility Score on the Collabary platform. It shows you how likely it is that the followers of a selected influencer are authentic.  

• Audience Reachability: Based on the followed vs the following logic, the audience reachability indicates the likelihood of an influencers’ content being seen by their followers. The fewer channels the audience is following, the higher is the chance that your sponsored post is seen by them.

• Follower Growth: Last but not least, a sharp increase or decrease in followers can be a sign for fraudulent influencers – meaning influencers buying followers to increase their audience. 


The Influencers’ Posting Behavior 

Besides looking at the audience data, it’s also advisable to have a look at the ads to content ratio of an influencer. Imagine you found your picture-perfect influencer match, but it turns out that he or she is really into the branded content game and posts one sponsored post after the other. You wouldn’t want to have your brand message appear between 10 other brands in his/her Instagram feed or stories. That’s the moment when you should consider checking the influencers’ ad to content ratio

Introducing the ad to content ratio

The ad to content ratio calculates the ratio of organic to paid posts. It sets the number of posts that have been published and marked as an advertisement by the influencer in relation to all posts of the chosen influencer. These paid posts are defined as posts where the paid partnership tag from Instagram or relevant hashtags such as #ad, #advertisement, #Werbung, etc. were used to declare the posts as ads. For example, if the ratio is 0, there have been no paid posts in the last 90 days. 

But what can be considered as a decent ad to content ratio? 

To answer this question, we ran an analysis of 50,000 influencers in the DACH region and found that there are some differences between influencer tiers, countries as well as the level of professionalism. 

Germany has the highest ad to content ratio of the three countries with 7% of posted content by influencers being sponsored ads. Looking at influencers who are more experienced (endorsed influencers) the rate is more than twice as high with around 16%. 

With 7%, Germany has the highest ad to content ratio.

Having a  closer look at the size of influencers, macro influencers (100 to 250k followers) have the highest ad ratio with 14% in Germany. On a country level, Austrian content creators classified as Giga influencers (500k to 1M followers) on average have the highest ad ratio with 21%. 


Source: Collabary 


As a rule of thumb, everything below 20% can be considered a good ad to content ratio. However, when looking at this key performance indicator (KPI), one should also consider market-relevant factors as well. For example, during the time of the lockdown, the ad ratio decreased on average by 16% in Germany as stated in our recent article. Additionally, checking how frequently an influencer is publishing content is also helpful in this context. 

Less than 20% can be considered a good ad to content ratio.


Create a Relationship Of Mutual Trust 

In the process of assessing how authentic an influencer and his/her audience is, the above mentioned KPIs definitely help to build a solid base and can underline a first visual impression. However, working with influencers is and always will be a people business. Behind every account – be it Instagram or any other channel – is an individual with his/her very own story, personality, and values. Creating a relationship of mutual trust is as important as understanding the data behind, especially in a business environment. 

Working with influencers is and always will be a people business.

So after checking hard facts and numbers mentioned above, brands should take the time to really get to know the creators they want to engage in a campaign, eg. in a short personal conversation via chat or by inviting them over to your office (only if possible of course). This becomes especially relevant for long term collaborations and ambassador programs. Some concrete examples were shared in our first piece on authenticity in influencer marketing as well.


Key Takeaways

• Don’t trust your gut feeling (only): Have a closer look at the key factors that help to measure authenticity. 

Check the audience data: Location, credibility, and reachability of the influencers’ audience, as well as the follower growth, are crucial indicators of how authentic their audience is.

Understand an influencer’s posting behavior: Make sure that your branded content isn’t overseen between too many other ads. Consider working with smaller influencers – those feeds are less saturated with sponsored content. Accounts with ad to content ratios below 20% can be considered as good.  

See the individual behind the data: Checking the data is a good first indication, but influencer marketing will always be a people business. Taking the time to get to know the creators is advisable, especially for long-term collaborations. 


What’s Next?

Interested to see how it works in practice on Collabary? No matter if you are already convinced to run your next campaign or if you simply want to understand the audience insights of your influencer selection, we are here to help you with every use case you have. Get in touch with us via