Speakers and moderators (L to R): Vicki Wilkerson, Marianne Jackson, JeanAnn Nichols, Jennifer Kenny, Jasmine Shih, Susan Akbarpour.
Mavatar CEO Susan Akbarpour recently spoke at the Women Architects of the Future of Work event on October 29 in San Francisco. Women Architects of the Future of Work was hosted by the organization How Women Lead to discuss how female leaders can adapt to and capitalize on the changing nature of the workplace. Susan is also a member of the Silicon Valley Executive Board of Advisors to How Women Lead, where she helps provide strategic direction to the organization.
Susan posited that this is because in remote work, it’s less important to look like the traditional definition of a leader, in other words male. What matters in remote work is delivering results, which women are just as capable of doing as men if not better as studies indicate women are more capable of managing multiple tasksflowing simultaneously, while men get irritated when they have to do several things at the same time. Scientists have found this is has to do with gray and white matter within the brain. Women have more white matter while men rule in the gray matter category.
Remote work also, Susan added, better allows women to balance their work with other life goals like parenting, pregnancy and caring for the elderly. They can take care of these obligations as needed and get the work done when they’re able. There’s no need to be bound to a 9 to 5 when you can do the same work more happily from the comfort of your own home on a more convenient time table.
Mavatar CEO Susan Akbarpour presenting at ICSC Asia-Pacific
Omnichannel commerce may be the current hot trend for retail, but it’s not enough to keep retailers and malls competitive in the age of Amazon & Alibaba.
For brick-and-mortar retail to compete and grab the market share back from these traditional ecommerce marketplaces, the only way is to evolve beyond omnichannel to cross-pollinated and enhance the experience of high-maintenance users.
At the Tech Runway of ICSC RECon Asia 2019, Mavatar CEO Susan Akbarpour discussed how malls and retailers can utilize the mCart PaaS to realize a cross-pollinated digital platform that successfully serves the needs of a broad number of adjacent verticals influencing the path to purchase.
Her presentation covered how mCart can truly close the gap between online and offline shopping, sales and advertising where the convergence of media, retail, technology and service will wow shoppers with a unified experience Amazon and other online marketplaces could never offer!
The three day ICSC Asia-Pacific event featured some of the most innovative commercial real estates and retail projects and uncovered the emerging trends in real estate and retail technologies with live demonstrations and hands-on access to products.
During her visit and official ICSC tours, Susan went to to some of the world’s most advanced shopping centers, such as the Jewel at the Changi Airport and the Marina cBay Sands complexes among others, as well as the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Susan was deeply impressed by Singapore’s futuristic and sustainable design, but noticed that there is still room for greater digital transformation in commerce—and how mCart can help realize this vision for Singapore and its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific.
Mei Chou, the Group Director of Conservation & Urban Design at Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA) giving Susan a dazzling tour of Singapore’s fast pace of advancement since independence in 1965.
Photo By Susan Akbarpour visiting the Jewel, the new airport shopping complex set in between the three terminals at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Visitors from around the world lined up in long queues, with tickets they’d obtained weeks in advance to be the first to see the new structure.
Susan Akbarpour in the Jewel at the Changi Airport. Highlights include: an indoor jungle and life size waterfall falling from the fourth floor freshens the air cheaply and sustainably. Toddlers and youth turn invisible in a cloud of mist every 5 minutes in “Foggy Bowls.” Robots greet and offer water to visitors! And most importantly, hotel rooms here “transit shoppers” can rest overnight and start their shopping over the next morning!
Singapore’s Marina Bay Sand, an integrated resort with a hotel, casino, retail mall, as well as convention facilities and entertainment venues including theaters, nightclubs and a museum!
The Modern Retail Apocalypse or Renaissance?
As Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC, alluded to in his opening remarks, the “retail apocalypse” has been overhyped. Rather, retail is undergoing a renaissance of radical digital transformation.
Tom McGee delivering the opening remarks at ICSC Asia-Pacific 2019.
Consumer expectations have adjusted, led by millenials and Gen Z, who are less brand oriented, have the constant expectation of instant gratification, and aren’t used hearing no.
This means retailers and malls have to adapt to the modern consumer’s digital tastes and needs. We can’t expect customers to visit 100 stores in three malls or visiting 100 of websites and downloading 50 apps to buy an outfit that she saw in a movie. That process must be streamlined, bring people from content to transaction in one place.
This challenge of digital transformation has been felt particularly acutely by malls, who by their very nature are grounded in the physical world. This is why 80% of malls are concerned about the shift from physical shopping to online stores.
Data from Retail Dive
To meet the modern consumer’s demands, malls and retailers have to bridge the online and offline gap while keeping the following objectives in mind:
Adjusting to millennial shopping behavior
Direct to consumers models while sustaining the tenants
Increasing traffic to the mall
Shopper retention & engagement
Tapping into new source of revenue
Crossing Over to Cross-Pollinated Commerce
In order to meet these objectives and offer the unified experience that modern shoppers mandate, malls and their retailers need a single integration platform as a service” (IPaaS). An IPaaS connects tens to hundreds of players, touchpoints, concepts, point solutions and business models in a centralized location where different entities come together to create and distribute values.
With a comprehensive integration layer like an IPaaS, we can move beyond the current generation of omnichannel retail to cross-pollinated commerce, in which all relevant parties share data and work together for their mutual benefit, ensuring consumers a better experience throughout the entire shopping journey.
If retailers and malls could work together with media, technology and service companies to share their data, create and distribute value for this modem cross-pollinated supply chain, they could create a more unified retail experience for consumers and streamline the 2st-century path to purchase, removing friction at every point.
The modern path to purchase is long winded and needs to be streamlined with a cross-pollinated platform!
With cross-pollinated commerce, malls would enter the ecommerce space, retailers would better understand their customers and advertisers would have a better idea of what’s actually driving sales. Even influencers (micro, macro and mega) —the main driver of experiential shopping—could better track their content’s influence to sales dollars and be fairly compensated for it. Such a IPaaS would allow these parties to collaborate in ways never before possible and create entirely new business models.
So how can we create cross-pollinated commerce to move malls and retailers beyond omnichannel?
Solution: The mCart Cross-Pollinated Marketplace and Influencer Marketing Platform
Find out about how and why mCart is creating cross-pollinated commerce here, initiated by the startup Mavatar that—according the legendary VC Skyler Fernadez in his keynote at ICSC— meets all the characteristics of a unicorn!
Disruptive technology and business model
Sustainable competitive advantage
A vision greater than itself
A team that can execute that vision
Skyler Fernandez conducting the keynote speech at RECon Asia-Pacific 2019 in Singapore.
mCart is a cross-pollinated platform that streamlines the entire path to purchase in one integration layer. Malls can license their own mCart platform and onboard the inventories of all their retailers and collaborate with social and traditional media to create a digital mirror of the mall itself which is promoted by an integrated salesforce.
Shoppers can get directed by shop-able content all around them to malls or browse the mall’s integrated marketplace and influence marketing platform for products. They carry their mCart next-gen shopping cart, which is the mall’s universal and consumer-centric shopping cart, between offline and online in different touch points on the web, mobile, and in-person kiosk.
Shoppers then choose to buy online (in an innovative patent-protected hybrid checkout), pick up in person from partner retailers, or communicate with salespeople to hold and try products out.
For promoting, facilitating and shortening the sales process on the mCart platform, malls can aggregate substantial affiliate sales commission from their partner retailers using mCart’s transparent blockchain-powered affiliate sales system. The mCart platform also lets malls distribute affiliate sales commission between themselves and influencers.
Additionally, mCart makes it easy to offer rewards to shoppers for being an integrated part of this journey for sharing mCarts, coupons, signing up, gain followership and many more activities in this fully gamified system.
Blockchain is already empowering powerful industries like advertising, law, finance, real estate, brick and mortar retail where trust has been always a major barrier. Blockchain removes the trust barrier by letting the relevant parties collaborate on trustless platforms using smart contracts. The terms between parties are tracked and executed automatically on a public ledger that can be freely audited by all parties.
In mCart ecosystem, retail partners and marketplace operators use their personal dashboards to enter smart contracts with each other. In a back and forth process, they agree on affiliate sales commission, set the influencers’ commission, shopper’s rewards, and fees for all other partners and touch points involved in a single transaction. Everything is visible on a public ledger hosted on the Ethereum network. This blockchain system allows participants to create a pool of value for everyone to tap into with minimal back-office cost, no costly and opaque middlemen, and zero overrated metrics like CPC, CTR, and CPM.
mCart lets its marketplace operators sign up featured influencers who act as the platform’s integrated sales force and promote offline/online inventories leveraging their content, social base or other assets. And Influencers are only paid on commission, meaning no fat fees spent on channels that aren’t delivering. Influencers use mCart’s built in shop-able content publishing platform to share curated collections of products from a marketplace along with the shop-able content they’re already producing. And their followers see this content on their social media feeds, blogs, video, print and wherever else they’re consuming content.
For every sale coming in through this content, influencers receive a 1-20% affiliate sales commission from the retailer while the mall marketplace operator collects commission as well!
And mCart has partnered with Sharp Electronics to create the Shop-able Wall, a kiosk version of the mCart platform that can be deployed across retail centers. The Shop-able Wall lets consumers start their journey at the mall, and then continue on their personal devices to shop at their leisure.
The Shop-able Wall bring your mCart marketplace inside your retail center, allowing visitors to enjoy the online experience in-person, search your inventory and create smart shopping carts that can be carried offline and online.
mCart Creates Cross-Pollinated Commerce
With mCart, every step on the path to purchase is being tracked monitored and monetized. All relevant parties driving consumers to purchase–from the mall marketplace operator, to retailers and influencers are fairly compensated for their role in the customer’s purchase. And since all this actively occurs within the mCart ecosystem, the data is centralized and actionable.
To realize this lofty vision, mCart has been built on top of over 300 APIs, and has 5 dashboards, tool sets, analytics, and AI-powered CRM and many more systems for the mall admin, shoppers, influencers, retailers and their sales teams.
Mavatar Technologies Inc. today announces that it has become a Google Cloud Technology Partner. Google Cloud customers can now buy the flagship mCart omnichannel marketplace & shop-able content publishing platform-as-a-service from the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) Marketplace. This partnership allows Mavatar to “make the world around us shop-able,” a promise that seemed simply impossible until a few years ago.
“Google Cloud may be one of a handful of organizations in the world with the resources and willpower to vet a powerful partner ecosystem to meet its enterprise customers’ visions. Google Cloud is not only offering their own state of the art technologies and services, but also introducing and supporting start-ups to innovate complementary technologies that Google Cloud’s customers need to address their short and long term objectives,” said Mavatar CEO and Co-Founder Susan Akbarpour. “We appreciate that Google Cloud empowers its teams to find, support and fund moonshots such as mCart that can address complex problems preventing major enterprises from capturing new opportunities like building lucrative new business models, and not just obtaining a marginal improvement.”
“The retail sector has to make a dent in Amazon’s aggressive efforts to accelerate the demise of struggling retail players. The mCart platform-as-a-service is here to help retailers close the gap between online and in-store experience, partnering with a network of unconventional channels. mCart marketplaces are driven by the assets Amazon can’t own overnight, such as content, experience, userbase, relationships, service, real estate, and technology,” Akbarpour said.
mCart smart shopping carts direct shoppers from every movie, magazine, social post, event, living room or any corner of a shop-able world right to retailers’ checkouts only on cost per transaction (CPT) basis, without any costly and opaque middlemen such as affiliate networks.
As a Google Cloud Partner, Mavatar enables Google Cloud customers to establish their own turnkey mCart platform that leverages a series of cutting-edge technologies such as blockchain, AI, image search, and more. The mCart ecosystem fairly distributes value between the relevant parties for every transaction, from retailers to marketplace operators, influencers and shoppers.
Warren Buffett once said said, “I am a better investor because I am a businessman, and I’m a better businessman because I’m an investor.”
Mavatar Co-Founder and CEO Susan Akbarpour truly believes and lives by this motto and has always offered unique views and approaches to ecosystems that she is involved with as investor/entrepreneur. She plans to share her coined “Investomer” (investor/customer) mindset when she will speak on the investor panel at VC Fast Pitch Conference on Thursday, November 7.
Being an Investomer
Susan has been putting her investomer philosophy in her work as the co-founder and CEO of Mavatar Technologies and a partner at Candou Ventures. In fact, Susan and her partners at Candou Ventures, Shahin Hedayat and Faraj Aalaei, two other successful serial entrepreneurs with multiple exits under their belts, have a unique investment philosophy, which is being hands-on investors and not only a financial resource provider.
Candou helps their portfolio companies and sometimes even entrepreneurs that are not an investment target for them to succeed in their goals to move to the next phase, productization, go to market, fundability, exit and more.
Susan’s outside the box investment philosophy of leveraging her portfolio companies technologies in her venture, Mavatar, or investing in the solutions that her team found interesting and worked for Mavatar, has created a lucrative win-win situation for both Candou and Mavatar.
She has turned Mavatar into the first customer and a testing lab for new technologies and Candou Ventures into a hands-on backer who can help even in streamlining the direction of the product of companies she invests in as an “Investomer.”
More on the Investomer Mindset at VC Fast Pitch
Here more about the Investomer mindset from Susan at VC Fast Pitch. The event will be held at San Francisco State’s University Downtown Campus between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM. VC Fast Pitch will provide the public the opportunity to pitch and network with VCs, angles and accredited investors.
The event is hosted by Black Dog Venture Partners, which provides VC consulting to help startups get financing and engage in rapid growth in addition to investing itself. The San Francisco event is part of the VC Fast Pitch series, which holds events connecting investors and startups looking for funding around the country.
When you inspire your cousin to buy the coffee maker you saw at from Macy’s you should get a commission from Macy’s!
When you spot a jacket in a movie, google search and find it at Neiman Marcus, the producer, celebrity and network and all other parties involved should get a commission from Neiman when you buy it!
Everyone and every entity—from micro to macro, to mega influencers—should get a commission for their influence on people purchasing anything.
Mavatar has launched its Kickstarter campaign for the Global Influencer Platform to help these people and organizations track their influence to sales and receive direct compensation for it.
What is the Global Influence Platform?
The Global Influence platform connects influencers to the network of mCart marketplaces, aggregating millions of products from the top retailers that shoppers know and trust. The platform serves as a single home for influencers to monetize their influence on social media and in the physical world and to promote their content across the whole mCart network. mCart marketplace operators also use the Global Influencer Platform to recruit influencers.
From the Global Influencer Platform, influencers can add their stories to curated shopping carts (mCarts) they are creating in these marketplaces and share the link (URL or QR code) of the mCart using this novel and powerful system with others in traditional and social media, video or even physical places.
A Wireframe of the Global Influencer Dashboard.
It also provides one control panel or personal dashboard for the influencers to track their performance within the network of mCart marketplaces in one place easily and transparently in real time.
Influencers can gain followers and see their sales ramp up quickly—it’s the UBER for retail sales!
The mCart Shop-able Content Publishing Platform allows creators to track the sales of their mCarts within major marketplaces that are run by major entreprises and receive a 1-20% commission depending the participant retailers and marketplaces agreement.
These agreements are set in stone on blockchain smart contracts, and therefore transparent and unchangeable for everyone within the ecosystem.
Want to join the mCart Global Influencer Platform? Apply Here!
You can sign up to be a Global Influencer today here.
Once influencers are accepted to the Global Influencer, they will become part of the mCart Global Influencer Network. The Network is a distributed salesforce that is incentivized to promote products in the content they’re already creating.
Together, we can create a new paradigm for shopping, sales, and advertising, end junk mails and build a greener world, leveraging influencer marketing on the Global Influencer Platform.
Contribute to the Kickstarter Campaign Today
Why should you support the Global Influencer Platform? Because you’re an influencer too!
Influencers can be anyone—from everyday people to social media influencers with 10,000s of followers, to celebrities with millions of adoring fans, or to a TV network or magazine with hundreds of millions of viewers and readers.
You deserve to get paid for your influence on shoppers. Those shoppers deserve to not be shadowed, targeted with ads or lose their personal data in auctions. And the retail industry deserves not to get its money wasted with high rates of bot-generated traffic and CTR on bogus ads.
To realize this vision, first we need to create the Global Influencer Platform. And to do that, we need your help. We are trying to raise $52,500 on Kickstarter to make the Global Influencer Platform & Network possible.
We have some really great rewards prepared for you when you contribute at well like day-1 access to the platform, mCart collectibles and exclusive access to the Mavatar team.
Mavatar CEO and Co-Founder, Susan Akbarpour is all set to present at the Technology Runway at this year’s ICSC RECon Asia-Pacific in Singapore, on October 23rd, between 12-1pm.
Susan’s talk will cover how blockchain can revolutionize the retail real estate industry by closing the gap between offline and online and turning the world to a connected mall leveraging user-generated advertising. She will elaborate on how shortening the path to purchase from discovery to transaction by processing a massive amount of data for and by consumers will empower them and expedites decision-making process much more effectively than current push advertising models.
Susan will cover new models for increasing sales per square foot and decreasing the cost of sales in a drastic fashion. She will elaborate how the mCart platform is the foundation of a consumer-centric and transparent commerce where blockchain helps distribute the created value among the main constituencies of the supply chain that influence transactions, removing middlemen, phony metrics and bot-generated click-throughs to the end the era of push advertising.
In attendance will be 350 key decision-makers from across more than 25 countries. The event will be supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Retailers Association, Malaysia Shopping Malls Association, and Japan Council of Shopping Centers.
The Technology Runway will cover emerging trends in retail technologies, have live demonstrations and hands-on access to products.
About ICSC RECon Asia-Pacific
ICSC is the largest trade organization in the world for retail and commercial real estate, and brings together the largest and most influential retail and real estate companies. ICSC RECON will include some of the largest players in Asia.
This year’s ICSC RECon Asia-Pacific is themed “The Space, Place and Future of the Retail Experience.” The event, which runs from October 21-23 in Singapore’s Raffles City Convention Center, is the Asia-Pacific region’s premier and largest event for networking in the retail and commercial real estate space. RECon brings together regional leaders for networking, discussion of the latest trends, and learning from industry leaders.
While digital and static push advertising are becoming less effective, “transitional” out-of-home (OOH) advertising is making a comeback with digital billboards and interactive displays. These benefit from the same modifiability and data-driven potential as online advertising, but they less intrusively grab the undivided attention of the captivated commuters with hard-to-ignore ads.
At this year’s Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas on March 26–29, I explored some of the biggest concepts in the OOH advertising industry. Here are four OOH trends defining the ecosystem:
1. 3D Holographic Images
As rich user experience becomes a commodity these days, advertisers are resorting to novel OOH techniques to make people pay attention to their messages. I think that consumers and advertisers should look out for new cutting-edge concepts in digital signage like 3D holographic displays. The novelty of 3D holograms makes them useful OOH that may be able to hold viewers’ attention better than the highest-quality displays.
Hypervsn, for example, has created 3D holographic images with a device made up of four blades covered in LED lights. When the device spins, it creates a 3D image that looks like a higher-quality version of R2-D2’s hologram of Princess Leia in Star Wars.
Hypervsn’s novelty makes them useful OOH, holding viewers attention better than the highest quality displays. Evidence has shown that a Hypervsn in-store can improve customer acquisition by 47%!
Consumers and advertisers should look out for new “cutting-edge” concepts in digital signage like Hypervsn’s 3D holographic displays — although probably embodying the phrase less literally!
2. Cloud-Based Peer-To-Peer Content Creation And Delivery
Billboard advertising used to be the domain of a few select operators. However, the industry is democratizing as digital signage makes it easier to publish ads and web-based platforms facilitate connections between billboard operators and prospective advertisers.
One company, Adomni, has created an OOH advertising marketplace for ad creation, delivery and audience analytics. Advertisers can choose from over 50,000 screens supported on the marketplace. Depending on operator processing time, an advertisement can be up in minutes.
Digitization is probably the biggest trend in OOH advertisingin general, but OOH advertising platforms that facilitate peer-to-peer or user-generated advertising, customization and personalization can empower traditional players to advertise smarter while bringing in a new generation of OOH advertisers.
By deploying dynamic digital signage in airports, operators can create experiences relevant to specific events, local inventories and contextual ads to target travelers.
80% of business travellers say that while at the airport, they feel a sense of excitement for their upcoming trip. To monetize this excitement before it’s too late, airports can provide them with the “first impressions” about that destination and optimize shopping journeys right after leaving the airport.
Lamar Airport Advertising and display maker Nanolumens teamed up to engage this excitement by installing 60 new Nanolumens LED displays in Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport’s Terminal 1 baggage claim. Travelers arriving at McCarran for Las Vegas’ many large-scale events see beautiful digital ads throughout the terminal customized to relevant events of the day, giving advertisers a powerful new tool to give new arrivals a “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” experience before they hit the Strip.
4. More Software And Hardware Options For Large Format And Captivating Billboards
Large digital displays might get more attention in OOH advertising, but they also need powerful software and hardware to run as smoothly as an iPad. Powerful back-end software and hardware are increasingly important for large format, interactive digital OOH advertising. Since the modern consumer has become accustomed to a high-level touch-screen experience, interactive OOH advertising screens may need to keep pace so the consumer stays engaged.
BrightSign’s XT1144 Expanded I/O Player is one example of this trend that’s currently on the market. The player features touch screens, 4K video, motion sensors, barcode scanners and more.
5. Evolving Mounts And Accessories
You may produce the best content and digital displays, but without the right frame and framework, you can’t make them eye-catching, safe, accessible and compliant. In the world of high-quality displays and captivating content, the frame often means subtly designed mounts integrating multiple moving parts to deliver greater public engagement, customer support and seamless content updates.
While mounts will likely never get the same attention as the displays, I believe that mount and accessory providers will continue evolving to keep pace with the innovations in display technologies. At DSE, Peerless-AV showed some of its products, such as the Smart City Kiosk and the All-in-One Kiosk, an LCD display terminal that lets advertisers deploy powerful content.
As we become increasingly numb to digital push advertising, I believe that innovative OOH advertising trends like what we saw at DSE this year will push the advertising industry in a new direction.
Last night influencers along with executives from MasterCard and Evite, joined us for the soft launch of the FX Group marketplace, powered by mCart. FX Group is a creative agency poised to ignite shoppable content in every medium with mCart’s stellar technology.
Krempel says, “They [major awards show] do a large red carpet build-up but it’s not monetized in any way, shape or form. [mCart] creates transparency immediately. I believe this is the next revolution and if the rest of Hollywood catches up at our pace, we’ll see.”
Lauded by industry insider publications like Fashionista, Apparel Resources, WWD, Fashion News and others we’re thrilled to offer the first marketplace for everyone from micro to mega influencers to use mCarts to make the most of their original content in any medium.
mCart leverages AI and blockchain technology to introduce fairness, transparency and speed to maximize the reach of Content Publishers like you, who are truly responsible for influencing shoppers. The mCart platform provides all the necessary tools such as coupon validation, rebate, price drop alerts, look-a-likes, product locator, and over 100 innovative acquisition, retention and monetization features. Each of these features is designed to stop third-party tools publishers from replacing the content publisher’s cookies in the penultimate step, a practice that has contributed to a drastic margin of error in attribution analysis.
It’s love at first sight: with your friend’s new sofa, or maybe your boss’s handbag. You want to know where you can get one, but you never get a chance to ask. Or maybe it’s a dress worn by a celebrity on the red carpet catches your eye. You sift through one Google search result after another to find it. You even post a picture on your social media, hoping friends can help.
Every time something like this happens, it represents not just a dissatisfied shopper, but also a lost sale. Monetizing the influence of these contexts, something I’ve been working toward within my own business, can be an enormous marketing opportunity. I call it “influence marketing.”
Influence marketing should not be confused with “influencer marketing,” which focuses on individuals pushing products to consumers. Instead, it’s about the power of content or context and empowering consumers with relevant data throughout the entire path to purchase, from brand awareness and consideration to purchase decision, which includes comparing products’ quality, price, popularity, proximity and even relatability.
In a world hyper-saturated with advertisements, an influencer waving a new “must have” lip gloss on Instagram can become just another part of the whirl. In contrast, influence marketing doesn’t push products but rather presents them in the context of a narrative. The success of eco-friendly marketing, like Patagonia’s “Don’t buy this jacket” campaign, shows the power of an authentic, positive narrative.
To create a shoppable world, we first need to categorize sources of influence.
I divided influencers into three categories to better define my influence marketing concept: micro, macro and mega influencers.
What is the difference between influencer marketing and influence marketing?
Micro influencers are everyday people, including those we know, who typically have fewer than 10,000 followers. They create content, or what I call “shoppable context.” They are a powerful force with a high engagement rate: 80% of Americans seek recommendations before making a purchase.Spotting a sofa in the comfort and sincerity of your cousin’s house, for instance, creates a context that sells.
Despite their high engagement rate, micro influencers are not an official part of the value chain because they’re small fries, even if they could be considered the most powerful force in the aggregate.
Macro influencers range from social media notables with tens of thousands of followers to celebrities with tens of millions. This large and influential group has been one of the main drivers of influencer marketing so far. Because they advertise to a wider audience than micro influencers, brands often work with them through affiliate networks or agencies.
While there are many examples of macro influencers making tons of money from brand and product endorsements, it is often less clear how much sales they actually generate.
Take David Beckham, for instance. The former soccer player earned 30 million pounds annually from brand and product endorsements. From the affiliate sales point of view, based on our own experience with 30 top retailers and the traditional affiliate network’s average 5% commission rate,his endorsements should have created 600 million pounds gross merchandise value (GMV). But the reality is no one knows whether he’s overpaid or underpaid.
How much influence on brand sales does Beckham possess? Does his influence still sell after his contract ends? Maybe if he could accurately monetize his influence, he could afford to be more authentic, relevant and selective about his endorsements.
As we move from micro influencers toward macro influencers, we see higher potential payout opportunities, but experience less authenticity. Consumers could be more likely to trust their friends than David Beckham, as world-renowned as he may be.
In my opinion, as a former journalist and publisher, mega influence is created by a collective consciousness that influences consumers even more than superstars like Beckham do. Sources of mega influence include mainstream media, movies, TV, red carpet shows, festivals and experts. These influencers set trends, swaying millions of consumers with their content or context.
Studies show that video — be it a YouTube video or Hollywood blockbuster — profoundly influences product awareness, as people watch video not only for entertainment but also to learn about new trends. This influence drives people to buy, leveraging the power of storylines that create immediate and powerful emotional connections between consumers and products. Accurately monetizing this diffused mega influence has proven difficult because it’s impossible to accurately measure its extent.
Using Micro And Mega Influence
I previously mentioned that I believe blockchain has the power, DNA and bandwidth to make influence marketing a reality, scale digital marketing and enable micropayments. For micro influencers who are too small to get paid using traditional accounting and brand management, we use blockchain technology to automatically reward them with micropayments to realize peer-to-peer advertising, as GDPR and FCC limitations imposed on influencer marketing become a bottleneck.
We’ve found that mega influencers, who create shoppable content and engage with millions of consumers, can also see rewards via micropayments on blockchain. For instance, a movie studio could be instantaneously paid via blockchain for any sales generated by content connected to a film.
The benefits of blockchain-backed influence marketing for micro and mega influencers don’t necessarily exclude macro influencers. David Beckham could also leverage blockchain to support and endorse products he loves for his fans to shop. He would get a fair commission for the sales he generates, making his value more accurate, affordable and authentic.
There have been a number of blockchain-based technologies introduced to the industry, such as the new tech from Comcast’s Advanced Advertising Group that uses blockchain within a network of participants to allow brands to make media buys on both broadcast and over-the-top (OTT) TV. Computer giant IBM is another big player in the space, as reported in Forbes. But perhaps more exciting is the effect of this technology in pull model advertising.
I believe blockchain could become an industry standard to realize cross-pollination efforts between media, consumers and retailers to make the world around us shoppable and track influence to sales dollars.
Learn more at Iranian Americans’ Contribution Project.
Decoding Silicon Valley, showcases some of the successful Iranian entrepreneurs and VCs working in technology and examines their key to success. The series boasts viewership of 5–6 million young Iranians and is available to download for free. Decoding Silicon Valley offers an exciting inside look at Farsi-speaking Iranians working in tech and is produced by IranWire. IranWire is a media outlet focusing on citizen journalists, enabling a community of young Iranian journalists with a place to discuss local and global news in one place.
Mavatar co-founders Brom Mahbod and Susan Akbarpour discuss projects at their Silicon Valley office in Menlo Park.
The first 25 minutes episode of the Decoding Silicon Valley video series features Mavatar co-founder and CEO, Susan Akbarpour along with other Iranian-American tech figures. Akbarpour discusses shifts we’ve seen in work culture in Silicon Valley versus old, outdated methods of working. She also discusses the best mix of Iranian culture and family values which center around education and hard work with those of her adopted country. She believes that these practices morph with Silicon Valley’s culture of sharing, transparency and tolerance that has led to all of the accomplishments that we are witnessing coming from this community.
Mavatar co-founder and CEO Susan Akbarpour appears the Iran Wire series, Decoding Silicon Valley.
Akbarpour explains how transparency led to new forms of incubators, accelerators and open platform workplaces in the valley where multiple companies share space and resources without the fear of giving away their secrets. “The workplace is really your second home; I’m spending over 10–12 hours of the days here, so it’s not fair to go to a depressing and isolated place everyday.” Collaboration even beyond the border of your own company, bring-your-pup-to-work days and working outside of traditional work hours are all part of startup life for Iranians like all other tech gurus experience as a way life in Silicon Valley.
There are thousands of young Iranians who want to better understand the key to success of their expatriots and how their fellow expatriates are navigating the fast-paced space in Silicon Valley: the utopia of entrepreneurship for millions of innovators around the world . The series goes beyond living and working in technology and also aims to, “to highlight the importance of the values that bring about the success of technology companies in this habitat. Values such as: appreciating failure, tolerance, transparency and sharing, and the important role of minorities, especially women and immigrants in shaping Silicon Valley,” according to the site.
Recently Intuit announced its CEO is stepping down and will be replaced with Iranian Sasan Goodzari. Goodzari’s current role focuses on QuickBooks Online, which primarily serves the self-employed and small businesses. Goodzari’s global insight is expected to serve him well as he takes on the top position at a company with several well-known technologies. Born in Tehran, Goodzari said, “It was an amazingly tough childhood that shaped a lot of what I am today. It shaped me in terms of being a dreamer and also in appreciating diversity.”
The TechCrunch piece discussing Iranian Dara Khosrowani, who served as CEO of Expedia and now serves in the same outpost for Uber. “Venture capitalist Pejman Nozad, who was practically penniless and unable to speak English when he moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1992, says that neither Khosrowshahi’s success, nor that of his extended network, should come as a shock to anyone who knows how Iranian families tend to operate — putting family and friends first, followed closely by a dedication to study, particularly of math and science.”
Shortly after moving to Uber, WIRED interviewed Khosrowani, who said, “When you’ve lost everything, and my family really did lose everything, you learn that loss is a part of life.” It’s this ability to regroup and persevere that makes Iranians ideal for an ever-shifting industry filled with highs and lows.
IranWire is sure to give young people an honest and fresh look at the movers-and-shakers working in Silicon Valley to develop new technologies and elevate well-known products as they take on new leadership roles.