At first blush, IMAI appears to be one of the newer kids on the block, with a founding date in 2019. But that doesn’t really tell the whole story. While the self-service platform—with its discovery, campaign management, influencer app, and AI-powered analytics—was launched to the public in 2019, there’s a lot more history to where it came from.
IMAI was created by Leaders, an Israeli ad tech agency that goes all the way back to 2009. This was a year before Instagram was launched, but Facebook and Twitter were making enough of a splash at the time that Eran Nizri saw a future for social-focused ad agencies. As Nizri tells it, he viewed social media as a game-changer for the advertising world, and he could see the influence that certain online personalities were cultivating with their audiences. This was the inspiration for the founding of Leaders.
Of course, it wasn’t enough to create a digital marketing company that conceived and ran campaigns for brands. Because they were so early to the game, Leaders didn’t really have much choice when it came to the software they’d use to manage their clients and campaigns. The number of available platforms addressing their unique challenges topped out at zero. And an ad hoc infrastructure of various bits of software working independently from one another just wasn’t doing much for efficiency. Something had to change and, as is usually the case, that change came from within.
Leaders built out all the tools they needed for their team to work effectively and collaboratively with each other. By doing so, they built their agency into the success that it is today, working with brands like Samsung, Google, L’Oreal, and Reebok. But building out those tools also had the effect of inadvertently creating a product that they could sell to other brands and agencies who are looking at software solutions for what are now very common challenges. They started doing this before 2019 under the Leaders brand name, and it went so well that spinning the software off into its own separate company seemed like a good idea.
So, sure, IMAI is something new, but only if you ignore the decade of experience and expertise that went into its creation.
IMAI offers a full suite of tools to manage every aspect of influencer marketing campaigns, but it splits these tools into a few different packages. These packages aren’t built like other solutions you may have seen; they’re not “tiers” where the features build up as you go through them. There are three separate tools to choose from, and then an option to combine everything—plus more features—into a single white label solution.
Also, because these were designed with collaboration in mind—internally with team members and externally with clients—there’s no set price for each plan: this is dependent on the size of the teams accessing the software. For the most accurate pricing, your best bet is to talk with their sales team about sizing any of the following plans:
- Influencer Search & Analytics — Unlimited search of over 120 million influencers on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube; unlimited lists; advanced influencer insights and audience analytics; influencer fraud check; reporting tool
- Influencer Affiliation System — Automated marketplace for smaller brands that includes: campaign management system; influencer performance dashboard, with campaign planner and KPI calculator; smart influencer targeting (for published campaigns); flexible buyout system; advanced analytics and reporting; personal account manager
- Dedicated Client Dashboard — For sharing results outside your organization, the dashboard displays: real-time campaign reporting, analytics, and ROI tracking; activated influencer analytics; multi-channel measurement (IG, TikTok, and YouTube), unlimited campaign reporting, dedicated campaign management
- Full Automation Solution — Combines all three of the above into a white-label platform, and adds the following: agency IRM and CRM tools; talent agency management; branded influencer app; integrated payment system
Before we get into everything that we like about IMAI—and there’s a lot to like—let’s start with the main criticism and get it out of the way: the different packages themselves. There’s nothing wrong with the way they’re separated out as standalone products, but it is kind of a pain that the Influencer Search tool is a separate platform from everything else. If you want to discover and analyze influencers, you go to one URL and login. If you want to manage your campaigns and do other behind-the-scenes stuff, that’s a different URL and login. And if you want to invite influencers that you found in Discovery to work on your campaigns, you’ll need to export the list in CSV format from one platform and import it into the other.
For now, this can be considered a growing pain—the campaign/influencer/client management system pre-dates the search and discovery tool—and it’s impressive that this is really the only telltale sign that IMAI is a newer venture. Each platform on its own has the feeling of a mature product that’s been put to the test in the real world. Now, the new company—IMAI—needs to catch up to that level of maturity by getting everything under a single umbrella. When that happens, IMAI will be a platform to contend with.
The Discovery platform streamlines the whole process of search: whereas most search tools have you start by searching with a keyword or topic and then allow you to refine the results across a number of filters, IMAI just presents all these options together as a series of filters. You can still search those keywords—in a bio or as a topic—but that option appears nestled in with the rows of filters that can be applied. If this sounds confusing, it isn’t: it actually feels like a more natural way to go about things. It’s one of those tiny little design choices that seems inconsequential at best, but actually makes a big difference to the experience.
With all the options for search and sheer volume of influencers within the database, finding the right influencer might seem daunting. Rest assured, the amount of data and analytics that IMAI has on each influencer is like a sharp knife that cuts through any indecision with ease. You’ll get in-depth insights on the influencers themselves, and their audiences. The screenshots below give you an idea of what to expect, but they’re just the beginning. To get an idea of what to expect, your best bet is to look at this report to see what’s there.
Any influencer that looks promising can be added to a list, and these lists offer more than just a mechanism for staying organized. IMAI takes all their stats and metrics and aggregates them into a single overview, so you can understand how a campaign might perform with this particular group. Another nice feature of these lists is that IMAI takes into account any overlap of followers between influencers and gives you the unique reach of the group as a whole. These lists can be shared externally with a simple URL, so anyone you want to look at it can.
On the campaign management side of things, IMAI’s backend platform is solid. If you’ve bought into the Influencer Affiliation System package, it works very much like a marketplace. You create campaigns, which are published out to the community of influencers who’ve opted in to the platform. They can respond if they’re interested, you approve or disapprove, content is uploaded and published, and performance stats are collected. It’s all pretty standard stuff, and just as good as any other well-made platform that works this way.
It’s on the higher end of things where IMAI really stands out. Those using the Full Automation Solution get to bring their own influencers on to the system, whether they found them with IMAI’s discovery tool or have already been working with them. But the real gem here is the full white-labeleld experience that brands and their influencers get. Any reports or lists get branded, of course, but the feature that really sets this platform apart is the branded app that influencers use to interact with the brands.
It’s not uncommon for a platform like this to include an app for influencers to peruse opportunities, communicate with brands, and upload their content. What is uncommon is how far they go with branding it, such that influencers have an experience that seems tailor made by the brand they're working with. From the moment they hit up the app store to download it, it feels professional and legit, and will be sure to comfort influencers that they’ve chosen to work with an organization that’s got its act together. And when you create your campaign briefs on the platform, there’s a WYSIWYG tool showing a live preview of how the brief looks on mobile, so you know what your influencers will see.
The backend management system is chock full of features to satisfy even the busiest of brands and agencies, with built in IRM and CRM modules, and contains ways for all parties to collaborate on a single platform. And, as you’d expect from a company that’s leading with its data and analytics, the campaign reporting is thorough.
IMAI is a fairly new company, spun off from another—Leaders—with over a decade of experience as an influencer marketing agency. The software offered by IMAI was developed and used by Leaders for its own campaigns, and they now offer it to other brands and agencies who’ve got their marketing handled but not the infrastructure to support this.
Because the platform was created by an ad tech agency, you’re getting software that’s mature, functional, and battle-tested for its purpose. But also, because you’re getting software that was created by an ad tech agency, there’s the minor annoyance of having the discovery platform existing separately, but in parallel, to the campaign management platform. This is our only major criticism, and one that should be easy to fix. Here’s hoping they do: it’ll only make a great platform greater.