GeekOut Miami - Scaling Your eComm Brand with Creators | Panel Discussion

Manana Papiashvili
Manana Papiashvili
Head of Growth at Insense

The key to scaling your eComm business growth is having a strong ad strategy. With more eCommerce brands relying on UGC and creator ads to promote their products, our CEO & co-founder Danil Saliukov gathered an expert panel discussion on how to scale your eComm brand with creators at GeekOut Miami in May. 

Danil was joined by:

GeekOut miami

The panel kicked off with a conversation about UGC vs non-UGC ad creatives.

UGC vs. Non-UGC Ad Creatives

In the new age of social media advertising, understanding the differences between these two types of ad creatives is crucial for eComm brand owners.

Whether you are curious to start with user-generated content or perhaps you are thinking about collaborating with some content creators, most likely you’ve already heard of UGC.

In case you haven’t, UGC stands for user-generated content, which refers to a form of content that is produced by a customer or a creator. Typically it’s video content for social media, but it also comes in different formats for different purposes.

Whereas non-UGC refers to the more traditional types of content for ads. This is anything from motion graphics to studio-made videos or ad photography.

UGC is one of the most affordable and scalable ways for an eCommerce brand to promote its products. Large and small brands are including UGC to engage with their audience through authentic, relatable content. And so other brands are jumping on the wagon by working steadily more with creators to source high volumes of creative assets.

During the panel, Danil asked what role UGC played in the Snow Agency’s marketing strategy and what were the results from that experience.

“With UGC we were pretty early in that game. So we knew that through UGC and by leveraging all the different influencers of various sizes on Instagram at the time, that it was the most effective content, the most relatable. It drove the most revenue predictably. No matter what brand or vertical the brand was in, UGC was always the most effective. Just through influencer posts driving revenue that way, but also in paid media as well.” 

Content vs Media Buying Budget

Budget plays a significant role in all marketing campaigns, just like time management. And when it comes to content creation new challenges can arise. 

It was discussed how difficult it can be to allocate the budget correctly for content and media. And that, even brands that have been established for quite some time still struggle to predict cost distribution for this particular marketing area. In this regard, Jon appreciated working with Insense.

“Insense is the easy way to eliminate the bottleneck of generating new creatives, it can be very costly to do the manual outreach yourself and find the creators. Through a platform like Insense, you don’t have to find the creators, the creators are on the platform. It’s been a really scalable solution for all of our clients.”

Although the percentage of UGC in paid social can vary, Jon shared that his agency uses 90% of paid media + UGC for their clients because it tends to outperform other forms of content.

Tiffany also mentioned the big impact paid media has on sales. And how it can be the most effective when combined with content.  

 “I would definitely say that media buying drives the business. Media buying drives sales and that is the basis of your success.” 

The panel agreed that merging user-generated content with paid media is the most valuable way to engage your audience and boost sales. The value of a platform like Insense is that you can source affordable creative assets and scalable UGC that you can test on and repurpose multiple times.

“You definitely need both. Your content is king and that’s something that every brand needs to understand. But media buying will help push those sales and help push that content that you create.”

Jon gave insights into how he manages and distributes his agency’s budget for content and media buying. It depends on what the brand already has and what they need but in general, a good rule of thumb is that it doesn’t exceed 20% of your overall budget.

Initially, they check the brand’s creative library and what can be used. If there is UGC missing, they would come up with a creative brief based on competitor analysis, testimonials, and market research. 

Creators vs Actors

Using creators as opposed to actors was the next focus topic and while most brands already recognize the value of using content creators, our panel had some great insights to share. 

The more authentic the content is the more it will captivate your audience. This is especially true for TikTok, which uses charming shoots from creators to convert potential customers.

Brands prefer to work with creators than actors because creators provide more relatable content that tends to perform better. On this subject, Colin shared his personal experience of working with creators and actors too. 

“I have actually sat in on some of the studio shoots we’ve done with actors and that’s really great for getting content that we can transform, but generally speaking creators come off a lot more authentically. Especially on TikTok.”

Afterward, Danil wanted to explore if brands and agencies preferred working with creators as actors through scripts or whether they wanted them to have more creative freedom.

Detailed Script vs Creative Freedom

Handing over complete trust to a creator to deliver content that says exactly what you were envisioning can be hard to do. However, the panelists all agreed that allowing creative freedom and giving up some control, produces more authentic content. 

“I find it works best when you allow the creator to do their thing. You give them bullet points that you want them to basically touch upon, but as Colin was saying the more authentic the better. The viewer does understand and can tell what is fake vs real.”

Tiffany also shared her experience using Insense on her more successful campaigns. As the platform allows its clients to control how much the amount of freedom they want their creator to have with their content.

“What I love about Insense is you can actually provide very detailed briefs, like even a reference video. [...] We’ve had hundreds of creators that have sent us videos through Insense and all of them have been very organic. You know, like we said, the grittier the better”.

By balancing out control and freedom with creativity, Incense allows content creators to be in a better position to deliver quality, authentic content that resonates and fulfills the brand's vision.

Something like adding a sample content as a reference for creators can offer enough guidelines for your creator without the need to act. So, aligning your expectations with the creator is also very important.

Brand Ads vs Creator Ads

When planning and testing your ad strategy, it’s helpful to notice the performance differences between brand ads and creator ads. 

The panel gave some fascinating insights into how they’ve found creator ads to perform in comparison to brand ads.

“The click-through rates and thumb-stop rates are actually much higher on the whitelisted ads. So, whenever you’re running ads from an actual influencer’s page, they tend to just resonate better.” 

Jon also mentioned that ad fatigue is something that eCommerce brands should pay attention to when dealing with paid assets and influencer marketing.

“Ad fatigue is a real thing on these platforms. You know, when you see a brand ad on these platforms you instantly recognize it and scroll past it. But when you see a person that you didn’t even know you were following, your attention is more likely to be grabbed. You’re going to get more sales, you’re going to get more traffic. So it’s been a great approach that we’ve actually been using for over 2 years now”.

Based on the information shared from Jon and Tiffany’s experiences, it’s clear how versatile creator ads can be. You can leverage authentic creator content that resonates with your audience, expand your brand awareness and increase your ROAS. 

Other techniques like whitelisting and new trends were brought up by some of our panelists. Tiffany thinks whitelisting is the future while Jon shared his success using the Spark Ads feature.

“I believe that whitelisting is really the future of advertising. It really is. Because it tricks the mind. Most of the time you don’t even realize it’s an ad”

With greater advertising access, you are in a position to gain better insights into your target audience and increase click-through rates along with driving higher conversions.

Jon also spoke about TikTok Spark Ads saying that for his agency, it’s been one of the key drivers of their success. By using Spark Ads, brands can boost their content to generate high video views. 

Creator-Brand Partnerships

Tiffany went more in-depth on how the creators on Insense can fall in love with the actual products and reuse them for new campaigns. She also explained that whenever they find a star creator, they never want to inhibit their uniqueness, so building that brand-creator relationship is very important.

Insense is also beneficial for agencies that work with multiple brands. In fact, Jon explained that because they work with so many different brands they like being able to go back to those creators they have made their most successful videos with.

“As an agency, since we have so many clients and everyone wants UGC, it’s actually nice for us to be able to build a database of creators.”

This database is for each brand for a specific vertical, Jon later explained. It can be very useful to know if they would work for a different brand and a totally different vertical. The Snow agency, however, clarified that they avoid recycling a creator for a client with the same vertical so that there’s no conflict in interest there.

Samantha shared her experience as a creator who uses the platform and constantly collaborates with several brands and agencies. She explained the challenge of choosing who to work with and the risk of not being paid.

“The number one challenge is that a brand contacts you through email or DM. So you need to filter out which ones will actually pay you. So there’s a lot of trusts that goes into it when you are running it by yourself, compared to when you are on a platform like Insense.

Insense helps brands to easily create briefs for creators which makes the collaboration process smooth, so brands can receive content faster. 

Oftentimes, creators find it difficult to communicate with brands because they don’t provide much feedback or a clear idea of the type of content they are looking for. Luckily, Insense provides a full brief that helps content creators like Samantha understand exactly what the brand expects from them

“If I have an offer through email and an offer on Insense, I will always prioritize Insense because I know that it’s more secure and they know exactly what. Also, the briefs are much clearer on Insense compared to emails.”


The panel discussion was very successful in showing other eComm brands the true power of creator-brand partnerships and UGC. 

As Jon and Tiffany shared their experience using Insense, we discovered the great results they’ve obtained through the platform. Including higher click-through rates and conversions than ever before. And that’s all thanks to creator-generated content.

Creator content is more affordable than most brands think. And the fact that is affordable contributes to its scalability. With a platform like Insense, it’s easy for agencies and brands to work with a huge variety of creators to source diverse content.

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Manana Papiashvili

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