Influencer Week | Q&A with Ball Street
We sat down with Ball Street this week and discussed what it’s like to work as a football-focused publisher within the influencer industry and what it’s like to work within the Youtube space specifically as an influencer network.
Please introduce yourself and your company.
My name is Neil Stephens and I’m the Head of Network at Ball Street
Ball Street was established in 2012 by the creative director of Talksport and backed by Arsenal Legend Ian Wright who set out to build a better way of engaging with fans in the cynical backdrop of rocketing ticket prices, TV subscriptions and brands who tried to communicate with fans in a contrived manner.
Catering primarily to a male audience aged 18-45, and operating across Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat Ball Street has worked with brands including Virgin media, Ladbrokes, The Co-op, Nike, EA, Budweiser and Google.
The Ball Street Network is made up of prominent influencers including True Geordie, Arsenal Fan TV, Redmen and Boring Milner.
Heading straight into it – What would you say is the main difference between what you guys and other influencers do?
We’re football fans first rather than an agency that was set up against the backdrop of influencer marketing becoming a hot topic.
As a result, we’re perfectly set up to not only communicate with fans on a grand scale but advise our clients as to the best way to interact with the influencers in our network.
Moreover, Ball Street started (and continues to be) a collective of influencers that have grown up in this space. Redmen TV (the Liverpool fan channel) for example is 10 years old, so we have refined our approach based on years of growing a highly engaged audience and understanding the balance between a brands commercial requirements without compromising on content that may alienate fans.
Do you currently work with any affiliate marketing networks, and if so what would you say are some of the main struggles compared to working directly with brands?
Not currently – it’s a channel that we’re very keen to explore
What is the best way to work with a Youtube influencer and what are some things that companies would need to consider investing budget into influencer marketing?
Be mindful of the fact the audience is their lifeblood and the reason they have such strong engagement is based on an authentic connection. With that in mind, any brand looking to get the most out of them should allow them to interpret and execute a brief in their own style.
Before investing try and look beyond audience size – and always ask to get some audience data. A lot of football influencers, for example, represent clubs with a global appeal which will attract significant traffic beyond the UK.
What are the various ways that you as an influencer would be able to work as a publisher with networks?
Creatively any number of ways – verbal /product integrations or when budget allows full channel sponsorship or bespoke content work well. As regards remuneration, as an upper funnel channel, a CPA deal rarely appeals to influencers so some form of hybrid model – e.g a flat fee plus performance would open up more opportunities.
For a sports-focused influencer such as yourselves, what does your audience look like and who are some of the main brands that you work with? What differentiates you from another influencer such as travel/beauty and fashion which are usually considered the main ones?
Our audience is primarily male – between 90-98% depending on the channel. While they are collectively referred to as fans, this is very much a spectrum.
We’ve worked with a number of brands including Mars, Budweiser, EA, Ladbrokes, Google, Virgin Media, Vauxhall and Nike. Fashion and Beauty is a far more mature influencer vertical. Football is very much finding its feet and is less polished.
What have been your keys to success, and on the contrary, what are some things you’d consider failures but that you bounced back from?
Understanding the motivations of the influencers (as well as managing the egos!) These are essentially all bedroom industries that began out of love for their club and often require guidance to monetise their passion.
Also – we have hired well. The team is made up of people from backgrounds covering sponsorship, social media, search, production and editing and talent.
Would you say that there is a potential image problem between influencers and networks?
In all honesty, most influencers in the football space probably wouldn’t even know what an affiliate network is. The idea of performance deals wouldn’t appeal to many of the larger influencers who command big fees (often sponsorship) based on their perceived equity / engaged audience rather than actual provable results.
In your opinion, what do networks need to do in order to work with Influencers in a more successful and productive way?
Have a large base of different influencers to draw from. Smaller audiences have a closer relationship with their audience as they have time to respond to comments and command a better conversion rate but you need to be able to brief them en masse to make up the volume inherent with the larger influencers.
Additionally, there is often a very quick downturn in results as repetition of an offer can lead very quickly to audience fatigue so move on to another influencer to tap into their audience.
How have companies measured results and returns with influencers such as yourselves?
Mostly based on views and brand surveys but we have also managed remarketing and lookalike campaigns to drive CPA down.
If you could change one thing about the social media industry and its effects, what would it be?
More brands to be able to measure effectively through more comprehensive attribution modelling. The Influencer channel often lives in a vacuum.
Interested in working with Ball Street? To find out more please contact our Partnership Development team.
Do you have your own publisher story? We want to hear about it! Please contact our Marketing team.
Between the 16th and the 20th of July, we organised our first Influencer Week which is now all wrapped up.
We are hosted an Influencer day on the 19th of July for our Publishers and Advertisers, where we had people talking about the affiliate and influencer industry while also getting the chance to listen to some of them speak about their products and what they do.