Best Stocks For 2021: IZEA Worldwide (IZEA)

Editor’s note: This column is part of InvestorPlace.com’s Best Stocks for 2021 contest. Luke Lango’s pick for the contest is IZEA Worldwide (NASDAQ:IZEA).

As we wind down an unforgettable 2020, it is time to look ahead into the new year, and find the best stocks to buy for 2021. At the top of my list of stocks to buy for 2021 is a “sleeper” pick with enormous 60X upside potential.

The logo for the InvestorPlace.com best stocks for 2021 contest.

Source: by InvestorPlace

That pick? A micro-cap software company by the name of IZEA Worldwide (NASDAQ:IZEA).

You’ve probably never heard of the company before. You might be typing “IZEA” into Yahoo Finance’s search bar. And you’re now looking at the IZEA stock chart with disgust, because it is about as ugly as they come on Wall Street. In a nutshell, you’re looking at a $1 stock that’s been nothing but a big fat loser for years.

Ostensibly, you might be asking: What on Earth does Luke see in IZEA stock?

I’ll tell you.

I see a software company that developed an early lead in a hypergrowth market and subsequently fumbled that lead. And I see a company that recently launched a totally game-changing, transformative platform that will propel the company to grow at lightspeed over the next few years.

Is it risky? Absolutely. All penny stocks are risky, and this is no exception.

But there’s a reason IZEA stock sits at the top of my best stocks to buy for 2021 list — and it’s because this stock has an opportunity to turn into one of the biggest winners the market has ever seen.

Say Hello to Influencer Marketing

Believe it or not, analyzing up-and-coming technology stocks with disruptive long-term potential is just part of what I do. I also like to dabble in creating some of those technology companies myself.

My latest venture? A consumer app called Fantastic that leverages a hyper-personalized AI engine to match consumers with experiences in the most efficient way possible.

It’s a cool project. And in just a few months since our public launch, we’ve garnered plenty of users.

But user growth was an uphill battle.

At first, we tried what all new brands try: targeted advertising. We poured money into Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter to try and get our app in front of the right people.

But that didn’t work.

So we pivoted to influencer marketing, wherein we identified influencers on social media platforms who matched our needs, and paid them to promote our app through content posts.

It worked wonders. Influencers were able to give us the trusted, high-quality exposure we needed, the exposure targeted ads simply weren’t able to deliver.

So we came to a big conclusion: influencer marketing is the future.

The Rise of the Influencer Economy

And as it turns out, we aren’t the only brand coming to that conclusion. Check these stats out from The State of Influencer Marketing 2020 Benchmark Report:

  • Almost 80% of brands have experimented with influencer marketing in 2020.
  • Over 90% of them find it to be highly effective.
  • Nearly 75% believe that the quality of customers they receive through influencer marketing campaigns is better than from other forms of marketing.
  • About 70% expect to boost their influencer marketing spend. Only 4% expect to decrease influencer marketing spend.

Folks… the writing is on the wall.

Consumers are losing trust in brand ads. Think about all the ads you scroll past on Facebook, or Twitter, or even on this very page. Instead, consumers are placing their faith in people. Sure, you may have scrolled past an ad on this page for my free newsletter Hypergrowth Investing — but if a friend recommended it to you, you’d probably sign up.

What we are seeing play out in front of our eyes is a seismic shift in consumer trust towards relatability. This will, of course, precipitate a seismic shift in ad budgets towards influencer marketing.

The investment implication?

It’s time to invest in the first inning of the world-changing influencer marketing megatrend.

The best way to do so is by buying one of my top stocks to buy for 2021: IZEA stock.

Challenges in the Influencer Economy

I can tell you from first-hand experience that influencer marketing is great. But I can also tell you from first-hand experience that it is not without its challenges.

The biggest challenge? Finding the right influencers for your campaign.

There are lots of influencers out there. They run the range of geographies, personalities, styles, and audiences. Finding the right match for your brand can be a headache — indeed, only 14% of brands say that it is “easy” to find influencers.

Other big challenges include:

  • Payment fraud (plenty of transactions are not legally binding — they’re just Venmo transfers, and as such, influencers sometimes just “walk away with the money”)
  • Fake followers (multiple influencers inflate their reach by paying for fake accounts to follow their real account, and it does no good for a brand to pay an influencer to promote a product to a bunch of robots)
  • Brand safety (influencers often have creative control, and sometimes abuse that creative control)
  • ROI measurement (there isn’t a standardized way to measure clicks and engagement rates)

Influencer marketing software company IZEA is attempting to fix all of these major pain-points, and in doing so, is setting the stage for the IZEA stock price to rise 60X.

Who Is IZEA?

IZEA got its start 14 years ago, when its founder started PayPerPost.com, the first influencer marketing platform that openly paid bloggers to create blog posts for brands. Over the subsequent decade, IZEA acquired multiple related influencer marketing platforms and tied them all together into one unified software hub, dubbed IZEAx, which became the “brain” behind many influence marketing campaigns.

During that stretch, IZEA witnessed enormous growth. Between 2010 and 2017, IZEA’s revenues rose more than 500%.

Then competition arrived… and in an attempt to differentiate itself from all of its new competitors, IZEA added too many unnecessary components to IZEAx, sent mixed marketing messages and ultimately convolved and eroded the platform’s core value prop.

IZEA’s growth narrative fell flat. Revenue growth turned negative. Net losses widened. And the stock plunged.

But everything is going to turn a corner for this beaten-up company in 2021… and over the next few years, IZEA is going to grow at lightspeed.

Why? Shake.

Shake Is the Future ‘Amazon for Influencers’

In early June, IZEA announced a new platform called Shake. That platform just went live in November.

For all intents and purposes, Shake is basically just the Amazon for influencers. It’s a marketplace where influencers can list their “shakes” (“I have 30,000 followers on Instagram in the home décor market, and I’ll promote your product for $100 per post”), brands can browse through those shakes, and the two can connect and transact in a legal, safe, organized and streamlined manner.

Shake is a genius concept that will turn into a huge platform in the 2020s.

That’s because Shake solves all of the Influencer Economy’s biggest challenges.

Discoverability? Now brands have a dedicated place to find and contact influencers across all social platforms, while influencers have a dedicated place to gain exposure to brands.

Payments? Handled in a contractual manner through Shake. Fake followers? IZEA leverages an AI engine to calculate what percentage of each influencer’s followers are fake. Brand safety? Brands control the campaigns through a central dashboard. ROI? Easily measured by standardized IZEA tools.

Shake is a panacea for influencer marketing.

Competition? Sure, there’ll be some. But marketplaces benefit from marketplace effects, and Shake — as the first mover here with an already robust repository of influencers — will be able to lean into marketplace effects to turn into the unrivaled Amazon of Influencers.

That’s a big deal. Because Influencer Marketing is the future of advertising. And because the Amazon of Influencers will be an enormous and widely used platform at scale.

Needless to say then, if IZEA successful turns Shake into the Amazon of Influencers, the potential upside for IZEA stock is enormous.

60X Upside Potential for IZEA Stock

Here’s the quick math behind IZEA stock soaring 60X.

Global ad budgets today measure around $600 billion. Influencer marketing spend measures about $10 billion, or just over 1.5% of total ad budgets. But most brands plan to up influencer spend to ~10% of marketing budgets over time.

Thanks to inflation, population growth and urbanization, most analysts see global ad spending marching to $1 trillion in the 2020s. A 10% share of that implies $100 billion in influencer marketing spend at scale.

Based on company revenue numbers and Influencer MarketingHub market size numbers, IZEA back in 2016 controlled just over 1% of the global influencer marketing market. With Shake, the company could easily sprint back to that 1% share — which, on a $100 billion pie, implies $1 billion in revenues.

Assuming fairly standard software operating margins of 20%, my numbers say that IZEA could march towards $150 million in net profits. An industry-standard 20X multiple on that implies a long-term valuation target of $3 billion — 60X higher than today’s $50 million market cap.

Bottom Line on IZEA Stock

When looking at top stocks to buy for 2021, you could play it safe, and pick an Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) or an Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA).

Or you could try to hit a home run. If you’re trying to hit a home run in 2021, then I suggest you take a good hard look at IZEA stock. The company’s newly launched Shake marketplace for influencers is a total game-changer in the marketing tech world. Robust uptake of this new platform in 2021 could propel IZEA back into hypergrowth mode, and send IZEA stock flying higher.

On the date of publication, Luke Lango did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.

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