Social & Influencers

7 main takeaways on influencer marketing from AWNY 2023

Creators were top of mind at this year’s conference.
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Ian McKinnon

· 4 min read

Creators—and the people who work with them—were in no short supply at this year’s Advertising Week New York, proving once again that the $29 billion industry is a marketing staple.

In fact, influencer marketing has become so popular that many brands are featuring creators in emails, commercials, and in out-of-home ads.

“I hear frequently that influencer marketing is the wild, wild West,” Jenny Penich, SVP of North America and commercial at Influencer, said on one panel. “That’s actually not the case.”

Below are some of the themes that dominated conversations on panels this year around influencers and creators at Advertising Week.

Creative freedom: Nicole Sia, senior director and head of content and social marketing at DoorDash, said that a key part of her strategy has involved trusting creators to deliver their own brand of creativity. “I just went after the dopest creators I could find. My FYP was my principal point of market research, and I said, ‘Give them a hot bag. Let’s see what they can do,’” she said. “This is a really good strategy. Feel free to steal it.”

Clarity: Andrew Banis, TikTok’s head of creative operations in North America, said he would “definitely encourage brands to share what your objectives are with your creators” so they can take them into account when brainstorming ideas and creating content.

In a panel with marketers from L’Oréal, creator Anna Kai echoed that idea, saying brand goals can impact decisions as simple as whether to show the product in the first few seconds of a video: “If your end goal is to tap into my existing audience and make them watch the whole video, then I think it’s probably not necessary,” she said. “But if your end goal is paid amplification, then absolutely that makes sense.”

Control (and the need to release it): Creator José Rolón said that brands can harm relationships if they’re too controlling: “The [brands] that pretty much write the script for you? That’s the stuff that drives me nuts,” he said. “I backed out of a couple of them because it’s not my voice, it’s not what we stand for.”

It can also lead to decreased engagement compared to an influencer’s regular posts, creator Chris Olsen noted: “Brands can be a little confused as to, ‘Okay, this was your engagement. Why didn’t it perform as well?’ And it’s because it was such a departure from my personal brand,” he said.

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Collabs: Creator Haley Kalil called collabs “the bread and butter of how to grow as a creator.” Citing Ed Sheeran’s latest creator tour that she participated in, she said, “He’s Ed Sheeran, but he’s filming in my apartment; it just proves that there’s something about content creation that everyone is leaning into because there’s a power about it.” She added that one of her favorite brand partnerships to date, CeraVe, was successful because it collaborated with her on a creative concept she was already posting about (in several of her videos, she jokes about appearing on billboards) and made it a reality.


“My following sees that and goes, ‘Oh wow, Haley achieved something that she wanted to achieve,’ so of course the engagement in the post was much higher than if it was just like a plain piece of organic media,” she said.

Connection: According to Ben Jeffries, CEO of, comments are the “unsung heroes of influencer marketing” because they can indicate what viewers like and help dictate the tone of future activations.

Julie Selig, head of brand engagement and integrated marketing at L’Oréal, said the brand aims to reach people through content that feels “much more raw” and isn’t as polished.

Consideration: Christena Pyle, chief equity officer at Dentsu, emphasized the importance of addressing inequalities in influencer marketing urgently to avoid repeating existing issues. “In the creator economy, what’s starting to happen is a lot of the issues that play out in the workplace are now in the marketplace, where there’s a lack of representation, there’s a lack of equity and fair pay.”

Competition: Keith Bendes, VP of marketing and strategy at Linqia, said brands should try to get ahead of opportunities to partner with creators before they start their own ventures (think Little Chonk and Chamberlain Coffee). “These creators are either going to be your competitors moving forward or your partners,” he said. “There is no question.”

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