As part of our series on the creator economy, we’re looking at “influencers.” Those are the YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat personalities who get big followings and free products that they then promote to their followers. We’re also looking at the people who find those influencers and connect them with the brands who want to influence people. One of those finders is Jennifer Perri, vice president of the Univision Creator Network. The Creator Network includes the Martinez twins, who have 4 million YouTube subscribers, and Ana Alvarado, who helps market beauty products to Hispanic audiences on her Instagram account called LipstickFables. Perri talked with Marketplace Tech host Molly Wood. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Molly Wood: So, is getting on air — on television — the ultimate goal for you and these creators?
Jennifer Perri: Yes and no. So there’s really two main reasons why we launched the Univision Creator Network almost three years ago. First and foremost, it was for talent development — definitely looking for that new, young, fresh take for Latino content. But there’s also this other side of the business, which is advertisement and brands. You know, Univision has an amazing sales team. We work with some of the biggest brands in the world, and those brands want to work with influencers. So it was really important for Univision to start bringing those types of opportunities to the sales mix.
Wood: When I see a creator get really big, is it safe for me to assume that they have some management or some infrastructure behind them that is helping and hopefully protecting them?
Perri: You know, I think that we have evolved a lot as an industry. You do have influencers who have major representation from places like CAA and WME and, you know, huge legal representation. But it is still a bit of a Wild West. So you do still see some influencers who, for example, might have a relative or a family member who was sort of there as they rose, which can be difficult once you reach a certain level. We’re all still figuring it out. I think there’s still a lot to learn as we go.
Wood: It sounds like it is merging a little bit with what you might think of as more traditional show biz — like the content might be different, but the path is maybe more old school, for lack of a better word.
Perri: Yeah, I mean, I think like anyone in today’s day and age, if you’re a celebrity or a star, they’re all looking to “how do I diversify my business, how do I continue to monetize and develop a brand — that even if one day I’m not as popular, I built a business that has legs, that can last.” And I think it’s everything from merch to finding other platforms that you can monetize on. You know, Facebook has really been getting into the game. Facebook Watch, they have a lot of great partnerships with influencers right now. You see Snapchat making some changes as well, to kind of, again, deepen those relationships. And a lot of these influencers, for example, will build some friends around them. So even if they’re not as popular, they’re kind of building their brand and affiliating themselves with maybe the next generation of talent.