Navigating the digital advertising landscape can be challenging with companies like Meta and TikTok constantly releasing new amplification and monetization tools. Influencers have become a major force in social media advertising, prompting Meta to introduce whitelisting, or account takeover functionality, as an option for running ads on Instagram and Facebook.
Nowadays, eCommerce brands typically allocate a large portion of their budget to influencer marketing campaigns, including whitelisting. Creators have also recognized the value of whitelisting and use it as a bargaining tool for higher rates.
But what exactly is whitelisting and how did it become a go-to strategy for eCommerce brands worldwide?
What is whitelisting?
Influencer whitelisting is the process of a brand gaining advertising permissions from a content creator on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok to run paid ads under their social media identity.
There’s many benefits whitelisting provides the brand with, such as:
- Boosting authentic user engagement on Instagram, Facebook, and/or TikTok to overcome limited organic reach
- Improving RoAS and CPAs by testing creator handles, audiences, and content across Prospecting, Retargeting, and Advantage+ campaigns
- Improving the ROI on investments in ambassador, influencer, and affiliate programs by extending the shelf life of user-generated content
Although whitelisting has a variety of benefits for the brand, it also benefits the creator as their account and content is boosted to net new audiences. This increases the creator’s profile views, engagement, and often follower count. Additionally, the creator can negotiate a higher rate knowing whitelisting access is extremely valuable to their brand partner.
Why whitelisting and why now?
Based on a study conducted by Facebook in 2022 across 15 advertisers, whitelisted ads perform 3x better than brand ads. Additionally, campaigns mixing partnership ads and standard ads are shown to have a 53% higher click through rate than campaigns ran with brand ads alone.
Creator whitelisted ads on Instagram and Facebook are so successful because they appear more authentic to users scrolling the app. When real people promote a product, it feels more trustworthy to users than a brand-promoted ad does. Additionally, whitelisting provides brands with access to the influencers’ audiences, allowing brands to hyper-target niche audiences or build new, custom audiences. This access not only reduces ad fatigue, but drives brand awareness, clicks, and sales.
Knowing the true value of whitelisting, brands are beginning to leverage other types of brand partners for advertising access, such as ambassadors, affiliates, trade partners, and employees.
In the remainder of this article, let's explore the different types of brand partners that are powerful to whitelist, as well as the types of whitelisting methods available for influencer amplification today.
Who can you whitelist?
Traditionally, whitelisting has been centered around influencers. The best practice for whitelisting was at one time to work with a mix of micro, macro, and celebrity influencers. Today, brands are continuing to leverage a mix of influencers, in addition to other brand partners, to turn whitelisting into a truly efficient growth strategy.
Below are the types of brand partners being whitelisted by brands today:
- Influencers - someone who has built a following on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok and has the ability to influence the opinions and buying decisions of their audience. Influencers are independent and may work with multiple brands at the same time. Example: Fabletics whitelisting micro-influencers as well as Victoria Justice
- Brand Ambassadors - typically chosen by a brand to represent them and promote their products or services, often through a long-term partnership or sponsorship agreement. Ambassadors can be celebrities or regular people, and usually have more exclusive relationships with a particular brand. Often ambassadors are avid customers of the brand. Example: Rent the Runway builds a backlog of creator handles, audiences, and content by whitelisting the majority of their brand ambassadors
- Employees/Contractors - often the most knowledgeable about the brand and its products. Based on these partners’ experience with the brand and products, their opinions read as extremely authentic and help to humanize the brand. Example: Peloton leverages instructors that teach their classes as brand partners
- Affiliates/Publishers - individuals or companies who promote a brand’s products or services on their own websites or social media channels. Earning commission through their referral links or codes, affiliates help drive traffic and sales for your brand. Example: Farmer’s Dog whitelisting MySubscriptionAddiction editorials
- Trade Partners - other businesses or organizations that work with your brand and its products or services. Trade partners can look like distributors, retailers, or other types of business partners. Example: 4AM Skin whitelisting Public Hotels, who provides 4AM Skin products to guests
By whitelisting a mix of influencers, brand ambassadors, employees, affiliates/publishers, and trade partners, you build a plethora of user-generating content, audiences, and influencer handles to test & learn with.
Methods for whitelisting
There’s several different methods that can be used to whitelist brand partners on Meta and TikTok: Branded Content, Partnership ads, Allowlisting, and Spark Ads. Each method allows you to amplify an influencer’s content, and if used correctly, can each be tapped into to achieve different company goals.
Meta Whitelisting Methods
Brands can amplify partner accounts on Meta using several different methods: Branded Content, Partnership Ads (formerly known as Branded Content Ads), or Allowlisting.
Branded Content (also known as “Boosting”)
What is branded content?
Branded content is organic content created by an influencer, creator, or publisher that features or mentions a brand's products or services. These posts can be boosted as a sponsored post by the advertiser tagged.
The below is an example of a branded content post boosted by an advertiser. When boosted, the ad will state Paid partnership with the brand partner.
Benefits and limitations
Branded content provides brands with authentic, organic content that’s easily boostable. Requesting and granting branded content access requires little work from both the brand and creator, making it extremely efficient and scalable for a business of any size.
The biggest limitation to note with branded content whitelisting is that you can only target a creator’s engaged audience if the creator is featured in the ad handle/header.
How do you get access?
For a brand to get branded content access from a creator, the creator first needs to publish an organic post on Facebook or Instagram with the brand tagged as a ‘Paid Partner’. From there, the brand can request post-level ad access from the creator, which is granted directly within the instagram app. The brand then has permission to boost the organic post as an ad and edit the copy included on the original post.
If your team would like to test the benefits of partner amplification but are limited on resources or new to whitelisting, tapping into branded content posts is a great place to start.
Additionally, boosting branded content posts can be used as a strategy to drive engagement for brand awareness campaigns. When a brand leverages an existing post as an ad, likes and comments from the original post are carried over into the boosted ad.
Partnership Ads (formerly known as Branded Content Ads)
What are partnership ads?
Partnership Ads provide brands with the access needed to both amplify existing creator posts and create new ads under the creator’s identity.
The below is an example of a partnership ad. The ad will note ‘Sponsored’ and say the partner’s handle ‘with’ the brand partner’s handle.
Benefits and limitations
Brands have more ad creation flexibility as they can create completely new ads or dark posts from the creator’s handle. Additionally, they’re able to boost more types of organic content such as Instagram collab posts, @mentions, people tags, and product tags. Another benefit is that brands gain access to the influencer’s audience and can amplify existing posts to not only the creator’s existing audience, but also millions of other potential lookalike consumers.
One downside of partnership access is that you can only utilize a creator's audience if they are featured in the ad set where their audience is targeted.
How do you get access?
Brands can request account-level partnership ad access by sending the creator a Brand Partner request from Ads Manager or the Meta Business Suite. They will receive a notification regarding the request and be able to accept directly within their Instagram app or Facebook account.
Lumanu, an automated whitelisting solution, simplifies and scales the process of requesting partner ad access. After sharing your team’s custom sign-up page, the creator enter’s their Instagram handle to send themselves a partnership ad request.
Partnership ads give brands more power to test and learn with access to different creator handles, audiences, and existing posts.
With Partnership ads, teams can leverage Meta optimizations like Dynamic Handles and Dynamic Creative to test what type of content and influencer accounts resonate with users best.
Allowlisting (also known as “Advertiser Access”)
What is allowlisting?
Allowlisting provides the brand with the same level of access that branded content ads does, and then some. Allowlisting gives the advertiser unhindered access to create and leverage influencer handles, content and audiences across ALL Meta campaigns.
The below is an example of an allowlisted ad. The post doesn’t mention the brand’s name, and has a 'Sponsored' label.
Benefits and limitations
With allowlisting access, all of the influencer’s content will flow directly into Facebook Ads Manager and be accessible for boosting or creating new ads. The brand does not need to be tagged in the original post in order to gain access to the creator’s assets. Additionally, your team can build engaged and lookalike audiences from the creator’s Instagram account and Facebook Page to target net new audiences and significantly expand reach.
One downside of allowlisting is that it can be cumbersome to make sure partners have their accounts set up properly to grant your team the access needed.
How do you get access?
For a creator to grant allowlisting access to their Instagram account, they must have the below settings in place
- An Instagram Professional account (business or Creator)
- A published Facebook Business Page
- Their Facebook Page and Instagram account connected
- Their Instagram and Facebook Page added to the same Facebook Business Manager
- Admin access to the Business Manager their Instagram/Facebook Page are added to
If the above settings are in place, the creator can provide an advertiser with access by adding the brand as a 'Partner' in their Meta Business Manager.
Advertisers have unrestricted access to testing with partner’s social handles, content, and audiences. Allowlisting is an extremely powerful tool as the creator’s audience and assets can be leveraged in any of the brand’s active or new campaigns.
Due to the more complicated permissioning needs, allowlisting is generally reserved for highest performing partners or brand ambassadors. It’s difficult to scale allowlisting, so prioritizing this type of access from long-term partners allows the access to be managed and reused in the future.
Luckily, Lumanu has an allowlisting whitelisting solution that streamlines the allowing process enabling your team to scale allowlisting brand partners. Our designated whitelisting support team can advise on the process from start to finish, and troubleshoot any issues that arise.
To summarize the different Pros & Cons of whitelisting on Meta:
TikTok Whitelisting Methods
What are Spark Ads?
TikTok Spark Ads are short, vertical videos that appear on the TikTok platform and are designed to be visually appealing, engaging, and easy to consume. Similarly to branded content posts, Spark Ads allow advertisers to boost existing posts via the creator’s handle to a targeted audience or interest.
Below are a few examples of TikTok Spark ads. They include a 'Sponsored' label and a banner with a CTA, such as 'Learn More' or 'Download'.
Benefits and limitations
Spark Ads allow brands to expand the reach of an organic post and build upon existing engagement. One benefit Spark Ads have over Meta’s Branded Content/Partnership Ads is the creator doesn’t need to grant the brand advertising permissions in advance. They can generate a video code for any post at a later time to share with their advertising partner.
A few limitations of TikTok Spark Ads to be aware of:
- You’re unable to edit the original creative or copy included in the post
- You can’t create new/dark posts under the creator handle
- You don’t gain access to creator audiences for retargeting purposes
How do you get access?
There’s two ways the brand can get Spark Ads access from TikTok creators:
- The creator generates a video code in-app to share with the advertiser
- The brand finds a content creator through TikTok Marketplace, which auto-syncs the creator’s organic posts to TikTok Ads Manager
TikTok Spark Ads are another way your team can easily put paid spend behind user-generated content and build upon the existing post’s original engagement. Once the content is created and posted by the creator, brands have metrics behind the content that’s performing well and can boost those posts to new audiences and drive successful TikTok ad campaigns.
In conclusion, whitelisting a mix of partners allows brands to build a backlog of user-generated content, audiences, and influencer handles to test and learn with. Branded Content, Partnership Ads, Allowlisting, and Spark Ads can (and should) each be leveraged by your team for different use cases.
Lumanu can help your team scale each whitelisting method simultaneously. Schedule a demo with a Lumanu Strategist to learn more.