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Influencer marketing enables businesses to collaborate with individuals active in social media to increase brand exposure and drive sales. It is about activating a person with a large following to publish social media content promoting the advertiser’s products or services.

Influencer marketing experienced rapid growth in 2022, and growth is projected to continue when the 2023 totals are in. According to Statista, the 2023 global influencer market value is expected to top $20 billion in the U.S., having more than tripled since 2019.

Influencer Marketing Market Size Worldwide from 2016 - 2023

AdAge reports there are over 300 million creators around the globe and brands are seeking them out in record numbers, often to help them better connect with Gen Z consumers. (Source: AdAge January 6, 2023, by Gillian Follett)

But measuring influencer marketing is a challenge. A Forbes article suggests, “16 Smart Ways To Measure Influencer Marketing ROI In 2023.” Business News Daily suggests 9 metrics to track ROI in, “Measuring Success When Working With Influencers.” And even has an online “Influencer Marketing ROI Calculator.” However, these tools and KPIs differ from one another, so standardized influencer measurement is impossible.

Advertising Benchmark Index™, (ABX), has a solution to that problem since it has measured more than 400,000 ads for creative effectiveness across all media types, including influencer marketing. It uses a single methodology and set of KPIs. This methodology standardizes measurement across all variables so marketers can compare apples to apples. ABX is a leading ad effectiveness and consumer insights company with the largest global syndicated measurement system and the most accurate norms in the world.

This post will compare the creative effectiveness of influencer marketing vs TV/video ads in Four Case Studies for similar brands using the ABX Index™, a composite score of the five most important KPIs, and that which correlates highly with sales.

Case Study One: Angry Orange vs Febreze

In 2023 year to-date, ABX has evaluated 80 U.S.-based English language ad messages in the Air Freshener Category. The most prolific marketer is P&G’s Febreze, with some of the highest-and lowest-scoring ads in the category. Therefore, we have included it in this study.

  • Audience: GenPop – For this analysis, we compared an online video from Febreze against an influencer ad from a much smaller brand in the category, Angry Orange.
    • Febreze – the :15 online video below for its car air freshener is its highest scoring ad for 2023 at an ABX Index of 125. In large part, Febreze’s score is driven by its Brand Awareness (105) and Message (129), resulting in a high Reputation score (151) and Intended Action (139).
    • Angry Orange, with an Influencer marketing video, scored an ABX Index of 111, well above the 100 ABX Index average. Angry Orange has lower Brand Awareness (102), but its strong Message (118) delivered good Reputation and Action scores.

Febreze Online Video Gen Pop (see ad)
Febreze Online Video Gen Pop

Angry Orange Influencer Video Gen Pop (see ad)
Angry Orange Influencer Video Gen Pop

  • Target Audience: Female Heads of Households, Women 35-54 – The story above is reversed when targeted against an audience likely to be most responsive to influencer marketing. The Angry Orange influencer is a female head of household, and the spot features women appearing to be in the 35-54 demographic.
    • Febreze – the online video now underperforms in comparison to Angry Orange’s influencer ad, with an ABX Index™ of 114, Reputation at 100 and Action at 124.
    • Angry Orange – the influencer ad is now the winner with an ABX Index of 121, Reputation (152) and Action (135). The influencer spokesperson appears to have created a strong affiliation with the audience and presented the product with enthusiasm. Considering the difference in production values between a professional TV/video spot and a home-grown influencer spot, these scores suggest the latter can be a great marketing tool.

Febreze Online Video W35-54 (see ad)
Febreze Online Video W35-54

Angry Orange Influencer Video Gen Pop (see ad)
Angry Orange Influencer Video W35-54

Another key measure that ABX looks at is the ABX Gender Equality Index™ (GEI™). This metric is the global gold standard for gender portrayal of actors in advertising. In the W35-54 audience, Angry Orange featured only females and scored well above average at 109 GEI, while Febreze’s male spokesperson scored significantly lower with a 98 GEI. So again, if the right influencer is paired with the right product, the resulting ad can deliver a very high ROI.

Case Study Two: Lemon Perfect vs Naked Juices

While the Angry Orange female influencers did well, the Lemon Perfect female hit the other end of influencer spectrum.  As discussed, the influencer herself must be viewed favorably by the target audience if a marketing effort is to be successful. Below are comparisons between Lemon Perfect and Naked Juices in two demographics.

  • Audience: GenPop – For this analysis, we compared the following knowing GenPop was likely not the target audience – especially for the influencer video.
    • Lemon Perfect – a :10 influencer video on Reels, which scored an extremely low ABX Index of 63, far below the Category Average of 101.
    • Naked Juices – a :15 TV spot that scored much better at 108.
  • Target Audience: Women 18-34 – We assumed a younger audience would respond better to both videos.
    • Lemon Perfect – despite the younger audience, the ABX Index for this influencer video barely improved at an ABX Index of 69, compared with GenPop at 63. What went wrong? For one thing, a :10 spot needs to be crystal clear, well-voiced and recorded. For another, the female influencer scored an 80 in the Gender Equality Index, meaning she did not present herself well, respectfully or as a role model. Unfortunately, a low GEI score affects Reputation and Calls to Action, as you can see below.
    • Naked Juices – the ABX Index for this :15 TV spot jumped to 114 from the GenPop 108. This seems driven by a much more favorable view of the female lead on several study variables including how she is presented, is shown respectively, and is demonstrating role model characteristics.

Lemon Perfect W18-34 (see ad)
Lemon Perfect W18-34

Naked Juices W18-34 (see ad)
Naked Juice W18-34

Case Study Three: Mountain Dew

Instead of cross-brand analysis, let’s look within a Brand comparing a well-known TikTok influencer video and a “celebrity” spokesperson in a traditional TV spot.

  • Audience: GenPop
    • Mountain Dew :60 Influencer Spot – this creative branding spot featured TikTok’s “celebrity” Matt Rosenman focusing on the healthy aspects of Mountain Dew and scored a 91 ABX Index.
    • Mountain Dew Celebrity :15 TV Spot – this spot featured Charlie Day, best known for the TV show, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and scored just a little higher at 98. Neither of the spots did well in this audience group. 
  • Target Audience: 18-34
    • Mountain Dew :60 Influencer Spot – The Matt Rosenman influencer spot improved a little in this demographic with an ABX of 97. The “healthfulness” Message (95), however, didn’t resound as well as expected. But viewers scored Rosenman a 104 in Gender Equality, meaning he presented himself well.
    • Mountain Dew Celebrity :15 TV Spot this younger group loved the Charlie Day :15 spot, rating it at 126, which was the highest scoring of all Mountain Dew TV/Video ads evaluated by ABX in 2023. The conciseness of this spot and its high production values contributed to high scores in Brand Awareness, Reputation, and Intended Action. However, Charlie Day’s GEI score was only 94, which means the spot might have scored even higher had he presented himself differently.

Influencer A18-34 (see ad) Matt Rosenman
Influencer A18-34 Matt Rosenman

:15 Celebrity TV A18-34 (see ad) Charlie Day
:15 Celebrity TV A18-34 Charlie Day

Case Study Four: Doritos

This study will look again at an influencer vs. a traditional TV spot for the same brand.

  • Audience: GenPop
    • Doritos Influencer :120 Spot – Doritos teamed up with Danielle Zaslavsky, one of TikTok’s leading foodies who celebrated her 200,000th follower with a “Caviar and Dorito’s recipe spot. The spot felt exceedingly long with Danielle and an unnamed male friend building and eating this special snack. She took a chip, lavished it with crème fraiche, and piled it high with caviar. It was cringeworthy and the resulting GenPop ABX Index was 64 with low scores across all KPIs.
    • Doritos :30 TV Spot – This spot featured a high-energy male spokesperson with a quick recipe for late-night snacking. He put the chips in a large dish and drizzled cheese, bacon bits, tomatoes, and green onions on top, then drizzled with Cool Ranch dressing. The spot did well with GenPop at 117.
  • Audience: 18-34
    • Doritos Influencer :120 Spot – the younger demographic change helped bring up the ABX score a little, from 64 to 79, with KPIs rising a bit as well. While Reputation still tanked at 33, somehow Intended Action hit 108! Perhaps this funky spot appealed to adventurous souls who might give Doritos a shot with or without the Caviar. But Danielle’s presentation of herself hurt the effectiveness of the spot with a Gender Equality Score of 94. This presentation contributed to a low brand Reputation score of 33.
    • Doritos :30 TV Spot – this ad hit 132 in the ABX Index with strong scores across the board and a reputation score of 168. The male spokesperson GEI was an incredible 117 for his strong presentation of himself as a respectful, appropriate and as a role-model.

Influencer A18-34 (see ad) Danielle Zaslavsky
Influencer A18-34 Danielle Zaslavsky

:30 TV Recipe Ad A18-34 (see ad) Cool Ranch Bacon Nachos

30 TV Recipe Ad A18-34 Cool Ranch Bacon Nachos



  • Influencer marketing is one of the fastest growing media types with overall spending projected at $21.1 billion in 2023, up 225% since pre-Pandemic 2019 levels.
  • However, it is challenging to measure the effectiveness of influencer marketing executions compared across media and across competitors if they even use influencer marketing. Advertising Benchmark Index, (ABX) has a solution by measuring efforts based on creative effectiveness across consistent KPI’s.
  • The success of influencer marketing executions relies on the strength of the influencer affiliation with the brand and with the target audience. Online influencers can be much more effective if they have large followings, and their videos go viral.
  • Traditional media celebrities are strong or weak depending greatly on the target audience and product endorsed. It depends on the age group targeted, the age of the celebrity, and whether the celebrity is from TV, current movies, music, etc.  For example, Gen Zs spend most of their time on social media, and watch little traditional TV.  But they are movie goers and streamers, so mainline celebrities featured in those venues will still be of interest.

Written by Marc Rappin, former CMO of the Advertising Research Federation