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Influencer marketing in Germany in 2023: professional, diverse, expensive

Having reached a level of professionalism akin to the US and the UK markets, Influencer Marketing in Germany in 2023 is characterized by diversification of budget spend across content formats and platforms, high but flexible pricing tiers for creator content, and improved content quality overall.

screenshot of Sabine Hoetzel instagram
screenshot of Sabine Hoetzel instagram

With the market having stabilized following the frenzied activity of the pandemic years, both marketers and content creators have reached a level of maturity where each understands more fully the needs and merits of the other, leading to better outcomes for both parties.

“We’ve seen that the demands of the client are way more detailed, while creators have matured to the point that they understand themselves as a business. This has an impact on the prices, but also on how the industry is perceived,” comments UGC creator app Takle Founder and CEO Livia Dolle.

“It’s great because we reached a milestone of maturity of the creator economy, especially in Germany, where we can now sort out who is running really good strategies in business and who is just dancing around.”

Key Takeaways

  • Quality of content has improved as prices have increased and spend has diversified;
  • Maturation of the market sees heavy focus on performance metrics from brands, agencies and KOLs alike;
  • TikTok loses its shine as marketers test new platforms and channels like podcasts and Twitch;
  • Audiences are set to hold more sway in content creation as brands and KOLs seek to implement more healthy, sustainable strategies.

How fast is influencer marketing in Germany growing?

Germany’s KOL ecosystem expanded a healthy 9.7% in the past year, adding nearly 5,000 KOLs with 5k followers or more on Instagram to reach a total of 51,625 in 2023, according to Kolsquare data. The growth is in line with that of other European countries,  and Germany continues to rank 5th in Europe — behind Italy, UK, France, and Spain — in terms of the number of KOLs.

Marketing spend on influence in Germany is predicted to grow from €549m in 2023 to €622m in 2024 according to Statista. 13% of marketing managers in the DACH region plan to spend up to €250,000, and 28% between €10,000 – €50,000, on influencer marketing in 2023.

Market growth and maturity is continuing to drive up prices. Increased understanding of the value of audience attention and reach is leading to more detailed performance demands in terms of KPIs, and targeting of specific niche audiences.

Meanwhile, 44% of German social media and marketing professionals say the quality of influencer marketing has increased significantly over the past two years.

“The minute [content creators] have an audience, then people want to capitalize on that. They want them to use TikTok and X, and all the other platforms, which means influencers need help, prices for brands get more expensive and it’s a longer process. The market is becoming more professional,” comments Urban Sports Club Social Media and Influencer Marketing Lead Julia Bell.

“We have a specific amount of money to spend on campaigns, but I’ve worked for startups that just couldn’t afford people at a certain point. You need to be more savvy with how you get people on board.”  

But while there is clearly still significant cash in the system, the inflationary context has curbed growth of influencer marketing budgets and forced brands to rethink and redistribute spend as ROI has been harder to maintain.  

“Most of the time, the budget is not being raised, it’s either staying the same or going down. I’ve noticed budget cuts or allocations to different platforms and channels because the ROI just hasn’t been the same as it’s been in the past three years or so,” comments influencer marketing consultant Jenny Song Schmidt of Jenny Song Schmidt Consulting.

KOLs in Germany are more aware of their value to brands as vectors of messages;  professionalization has delivered a marked improvement in content quality and more willingness to negotiate package deals and prices based on performance metrics rather than fixed costs.

“For the first time an influencer sent me a media kit with pricing based on CPMs rather than fixed pricing [per post]. It shows that the person really understands the way that brands and agencies work,” comments Schmidt

Seeking performance: marketers turn to new platforms and channels

The need to deliver on performance has become more pronounced as the market has developed. In a country with a high percentage of proficient English speakers, it is not uncommon for German KOLs to post in English in an effort to boost reach, comments Bell.

“We want to post specifically to the German market and our biggest market share is in Berlin […] we try to keep our social media profile in German but when we’re doing collab posts with influencers, they post in English. That’s something we struggle with more than in countries like France or Spain,” comments Bell.

“When we’re doing a paid campaign in Germany, we almost have to cut our influencer base in half to focus only on those who create content in German.”

Despite last year’s chaotic launch of Reels and the introduction of a content recommendation system that left many scratching their heads, Instagram has maintained its foothold as the preferred platform for performance campaigns, despite some declines in ROI.

The platform’s extensive data capabilities, and range of posting options — from Reels, to Stories, Carousels, and the traditional photo/text post — offer marketers a range of options and level of certainty that continues to outstrip other players.

“Instagram is still our number one channel by far,” comments Bell. “Your feed has become almost like your website for people to see what you offer. Reels are a way to get new people in because it’s being shown to non-followers, and Stories give information to your followers. Carousels are good because they get quite a lot of engagement and are aesthetically pleasing.”

In a market increasingly focused on performance, TikTok has lost some of its shine, as D2C companies have proactively tested other platforms and channels for performance.

“Influence marketers have tested TikTok over the past couple of years, but what I’ve seen over and over again, is that it is still not on a par with Instagram when it comes to performance. It’s something that just lives for the hype, for brand awareness, but it’s very unpredictable. It’s very volatile.”

This translates into renewed focus on YouTube, while turning attention — and diverting budget — to channels like LinkedIn, podcasts which offer greater reliability in terms of CPM, or Twitch, which is notable for its rapid diversification into non-gaming segments and the development of spectacular IRL events that offer brands even more ways to connect with communities.

Takle’s Dolle says TikTok’s key attribute lies in it being a place to build and analyze how content performs with audiences before translating it to other platforms. She says that YouTube Shorts has also gained a lot of market share, while marketers are also exploring opportunities with Twitch.

“In the paid content space, the gaming market is catching up. We see this community maturing, getting into an age of money, but they don’t change their consumer behavior. They still consume a lot of Twitch streams,” comments Dolle. “For margin, Twitch is my one to recommend but analysis of content performance there is completely different.”  

“Twitch is a great place to really engage with the community,” confirms Head of Digital at German agency Gallafilz, which specializes in marketing for NGOs and nonprofits, Elisabeth Krautbauer.

“The Twitch community is used to using the chat to talk to the streamer, they are much more connected. Often you have more room because they stream for six hours and they talk about your NGO for five minutes; it’s very hard to get someone to talk about you for five minutes on Instagram.”

Audience paradox: the harmful impact content demand for and the need to include them for sustainable impact

In a country of 83m people, influencer marketing is expected to reach 67m people in Germany in 2024, rising to 71m in 2026.  

Meanwhile, time spent using social media declined 2% to 2h26m per day globally for the year ending July 2023. This compares to Germany, where time spent using social media is just 1h33 per day.

As in other countries, relationships between audiences and KOLs in Germany are becoming more complicated and engagement harder to obtain and maintain. As audiences mature, so too is their understanding of how influencer marketing works and the impact of social media on their daily lives.

“There is much more awareness about how social media impacts mental health than there was a few years ago, of how it can fuel escapism, feelings of addiction, and anxiety and depression,” comments Schmidt. “People have noticed the correlation and act accordingly by unfollowing accounts because they don’t bring value anymore.”

At the same time as audiences are becoming more picky about who they choose to follow, the increase in the overall number of KOLs in the market is driving competition for followers. The effect is that KOLs are having to work harder to engage their audiences.

The quest for value is driving demand for “raw authentic” content, with KOLs delving further into their private lives to deliver content.

“Right now, people don’t really want to follow someone anymore just for the pretty pictures,” comments Bell. “It’s like paparazzi pictures of celebrities coming out of clubs; that’s exactly what’s happening on Instagram. There’s a lot more demand [on KOLs] to share more and more of themselves to keep the audience, and typically, regular influencers just don’t have as much going on as a celebrity so it’s harder to fill the gaps with stories.”

Takle’s Dolle says the influx of creators into the ecosystem and the rising demand for content is driving a “dangerous trend” that sees influencers and content creators reaching for drama to lift engagement. But, she says, as the market matures, KOLs are also recognizing the importance of taking their audience into account when choosing brand deals and creating content.

“Audience savviness is a major driver [of content creation]. In 2023, one of the big things is not only audience reaction, but we need to look at how each of us is maturing on the Internet,” says Dolle.

“Now you have to take into account the third party, and try to place the product in a social media aesthetic to match an audience and see where it’s responding. In 2023, as we come into the last busy quarter, we will see a huge contrast between really great, crafted content pieces and shit advertising.”

Professionalism to a point: Germany lags on Responsible Influence

Where neighboring France has recognized the professional nature of influencer marketing with sweeping new laws to regulate the industry and offer greater transparency and protection for consumers, Germany has made little effort over the past two years to regulate the market.

As with most other European markets, influencer marketing in Germany is regulated under existing advertising and publicity laws, and several high-profile court cases have ruled on labeling requirements for editorial and commercial influencer posts on social media.

Federal Association for Influencer Marketing (BVIM) Chairperson of the Executive Board Jeanette Okwu argues current rules in Germany are too tough compared to requirements for traditional advertising. She says there is a need for European harmonization of influencer marketing regulations.

“As soon as we have a complaint, there is finger pointing etc. Consumer protection law is really tight. The bad apples are shamed publicly and put on trial but it doesn’t address the elephant in the room which is how harsh these regulations are,” comments Okwu.

But both Takle’s Dolle and Schmidt say Germany has a long way to go when it comes to regulating the industry to make it safer for consumers and fairer for content creators. Schmidt points to issues such as transparency around photoshopped images and restrictions on influencers promoting industries such as gambling or cosmetic surgery, as areas that need to be addressed.

From the use of children in influencer content, to the addictive nature of short videos and the impact of too much screen time, Dolle says there is little sign Germany plans to address the more harmful impacts of social media in the near future.  

“I don’t assume that in Germany in 2024 or 2025 we will pass significant laws to regulate [social media and the impact it has on children],” comments Dolle. “A topic for agencies will be how to strategize content more ethically.”

A global economic leader in so many ways, Germany has now developed an influencer marketing ecosystem that shows huge potential for innovative content and performance campaigns. Whether it can also lead the way on becoming more ethically sustainable is another question altogether.

About Kolsquare

Kolsquare is Europe’s leading Influencer Marketing platform, a data-driven solution that allows brands to scale their KOL Marketing strategies and implement authentic partnerships with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders). Kolsquare’s technology enables marketing professionals to easily identify the best Content Creators profiles by filtering their content and audience, and to build and manage their campaigns from A to Z, including measuring results and benchmarking performance against competitors. Kolsquare has built the largest community of influencer marketing experts in the world, and offers hundreds of customers (Coca-Cola, Netflix, Sony Music, Publicis, Sézane, Sephora, El Corte Inglés, Lacoste, …) the latest Big Data, AI and Machine Learning technologies to drive inspiring partnerships, tapping into an exhaustive network covering 100% of  KOLs with more than 5,000 followers in 180 countries on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. As a Benefit Company, Kolsquare has been pioneering Responsible Influence by championing transparency, ethical practices, and meaningful collaborations to inspire change.

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