How Influencer Marketers are Using Earned Media Value (EMV) as a Key Metric to Measure ROI

Thursday Apr 7th, 2022

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How Influencer Marketers are Using Earned Media Value (EMV) as a Key Metric to Measure ROI

So, your brand shipped out a bunch of product gifts to influencers to promote your new product launch. The content starts rolling in and it looks great, it’s getting plenty of likes, and your account is even gaining followers, too.  You’ve integrated the user-generated content into your marketing funnel and gained important insights from these highly-engaged users.  Now comes the challenge of calculating the value of your influencer campaign. 

While 89% of marketers say that influencer marketing offers ROI that is comparable or better than other marketing channels, calculating the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns has been an ongoing battle. According to Linqia, 65% of marketers say measuring performance and ROI is a top concern. A few years ago, vanity metrics—metrics such as likes and followers that make your brand look good but do little in terms of producing actionable results—were what marketers used to measure success. But as influencer marketing has become a much more sophisticated strategy, marketers are turning to earned media value (EMV) to calculate the value of working with influencers.

EMV is a tried-and-true strategy advertisers have been using for decades.

As more word-of-mouth recommendations are happening on social media, digital marketers have introduced their own version of EMV—influencer media value (IMV). This advanced metric is rooted in EMV and is used to measure the effectiveness of influencer partnerships.

Having a strong understanding of an influencer’s EMV will help you find the most authentic influencers for your campaign, negotiate fair contracts, and make better-informed decisions for future strategies. 


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Earned media value is a metric historically used by advertisers and PR professionals to assign a dollar value to any earned media coverage—which includes any mention of your brand that was not paid for through advertising or pushed through your owned media channels.

Earned media is traditionally any press coverage in newspapers, magazines, and TV.  An influencer product-gifting strategy can be viewed as the social media equivalent of this type of coverage, where users are posting about your brand or product without cash payment.  When influencers are gifted products to try and the result is digital mentions,  these mentions are considered earned media.  In contrast, paid influencer mentions are considered paid media. 

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In its simplest form, EMV represents how much an influencer’s content is worth if your internal team invested in promoting the brand, producing content in-house or through an agency or paying a market research firm for user testimonials, reviews or insights.



For example, if an influencer’s content has an EMV of $300, that means it would cost your brand $300 to produce and promote the content through paid or owned media.


The Relationship Between EMV and Influencer Marketing

Influencer recommendations are essentially modern-day word-of-mouth, amplified online. The content created by influencers is 2.4 times more likely to generate user engagement than non-user-generated content (UGC). However, most brands cannot rely on consumers to supply a consistent source of social media recommendations and UGC. This is why partnering with influencers not only helps your brand build more authentic campaigns but also builds a library of UGC to incorporate into your full marketing funnel.

60% of marketers

An industry survey finds 60% of marketers agree that authenticity and quality are equally important elements of successful content. Because authenticity remains a top priority for both consumers and brands, UGC has become one of the best ways to build trust with audiences.


Influencer marketing is a way for brands to source user-generated content (UGC) at scale.  With approximately 79% of consumers saying UGC highly impacts purchase decisions, UGC is becoming mandatory for digital marketers.  

Learn the best practices to growing your business with micro influencers with our free guide. 

EMV is a calculation that considers the multiple ways influencer campaigns contribute value to your brand. 


Breakdown of EMV for Influencer Product Gifting

 1. Promotion

Promotions by influencers reach a new and often bigger audience, raise brand awareness, build trust and credibility for your brand, and generate engagement from potential consumers—an indicator of how well-received your products are with an audience.

2. User-Generated Content

Creating engaging content is cited as one of the top challenges for digital marketers in 2022.  As consumers look for content they can trust, they’ll continue to focus less on brand-produced content and more on the fresh, less perfect content created by real users of a product.  Consumers increasingly look for user-created content to validate product features and benefits before they make a purchase.  Authentic user images, testimonials and reviews will continue to be popular but watch for growth in video formats such as short-form video, live-streaming content, Instagram and Facebook stories. 

Strive for engaging content that encourages audience interaction, such as asking for opinions, participating in a survey or sharing feedback.  

To learn more about our services and access our creator network, contact our team to schedule a strategy call.

3. Insights

An often overlooked but highly valuable output of influencers is consumer insights. These real and highly engaged users of your product can be called upon to provide consumer insights.  Brands can request testimonials, survey completion, constructive feedback on product, packaging, messaging, pricing, new line extensions–the sky's the limit. 

How to Calculate Influencer EMV

Because one metric may be more valuable to your brand than another, there’s no definitive way to calculate EMV. You’ll first need to understand your most important value metrics before developing your formula. For a product gifting campaign, your EMV formula may look something like this:

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Based on the minimum cost versus average industry costs for micro influencer promotions, content production, and consumer research, your earned media value for a typical product gifting campaign would be calculated as demonstrated below. 

Calculating Earned Media Value of 100 Influencers

Asset Produced Minimum Cost To Produce Content Example Campaign Outcomes EMV
Promotion $75-100 100 influencer posts  $7,500-10,000
Content $75-100 160 pieces of UGC  $12,000-16,000
Insight/Testimonial $75-100 90 surveys completed  $6,750-9,000
Total EMV $26,250-35,000


An important thing to remember, just because an influencer’s calculated value is high doesn’t mean it will be effective. Mega influencers will naturally score a higher EMV due to their large following, but micro influencers with followings between 10,000 and 100,000 are typically seen as more effective at delivering a message. It’s important to use EMV as a tool and not a definitive guide.


How to Leverage EMV in Your Campaigns

Earned media, or word-of-mouth marketing, has long been considered the most effective form of marketing. This is because people naturally trust people more than brands.


Roughly 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust user-generated content more than content created by brands...


with 75% adding that UGC makes their branded content feel more authentic.


The beauty of influencers is that they can bring an authentic element to your campaign efforts while building trust with their audience. This is where using EMV to gauge how well an influencer’s content will perform is an effective strategy.

Often, marketers are unsure of whether an influencer’s compensation rate accurately reflects the value of their content.

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Say you begin working with an influencer with a calculated EMV of $300. After the campaign, you realize that their content generated an EMV of $500. You may consider using them again for future campaigns.

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On the other hand, an influencer who started at an EMV of $300 might drop to $200, meaning it might be necessary to reduce their payment or drop them from future campaigns altogether.


Using EMV information strategically can help you create more informed influencer campaigns.


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About ApexDrop

ApexDrop is the leading influencer marketing agency in the US helping brands build influencer communities that last. Our team considers your most important KPIs to find authentic, trustworthy influencers for your campaigns.

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Around 75% of marketers are currently working with micro influencers to reach a variety of goals.


To learn more about our services and access our creator network, contact our team to schedule a strategy call.