Today, few terms are as buzzy as influencer marketing... from top-trends lists to Cristiano Ronaldo generating nearly $1 billion through social media and right down to a 325% increase in searches for "influencer marketing" over the past year.

To move beyond the buzz, I recently connected with a host of upfront and behind-the-scenes authorities to track the past, present, and future of influencer marketing. Below, you'll find a gorgeous walkthrough—in infographic form—on the "evolution of the influencer," courtesy of the talented people at NoGRE and NowSourcing.

But before we turn to the big picture, let's look at three challenging trends facing the industry of influence, along with how to fix them.

1. The Need for Influencer Attribution

"Gone are the days of blindly throwing money at top-funnel metrics like views, reach, and impressions," says Travis Hawley, VP of business development at Viral Nation, "'Influencer marketing' may be buzzwords, but here're two that matter more: bottom line."

Marketing attribution—tracking performance and results—has always been a challenge. The ethereal nature of social media has only intensified it. But that doesn't mean influence is impossible to quantify—if you know where to look.

On this front, Steve Ellis, CEO and founder at WHOSAY—an influencer-marketing company that's worked with brands like Coca-Cola, Google, and Starbucks—stresses the need for accountability: "Influencers are a form of media, and media performance is measurable."

"When brand dollars are on the line, it's imperative that the campaign's results are transparent, optimized, and measured by eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions), eCPV (effective cost per view), eCPC (effective cost per click), and other metrics, including engagement, sentiment, and installs."

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image of Aaron  Orendorff

Aaron Orendorff is a freelance copywriter "saving the world from bad content" over at iconiContent. By day, he teaches communication and philosophy full time at a local college in Oregon.

LinkedIn: Aaron Orendorff

Twitter: @iconiContent