"[With influencers,] you essentially have a creative agency, a production agency, and a marketing agency all in one, which is unrivaled in other molds of [traditional] media [formats]."
In this feature, Geektime's molly Mintz and our CEO Timothy Armoo detail everything from our campaign platform and unique Fanbytes Score, to funding and vertical video.
(Originally written by Molly Mintz for Geektime on July 20, 2016)
Influencer platform Fanbytes, founded by 21-year-olds, fits into the changing world of digital marketing by pairing brands with social influencers in a specific way
Fanbytes' founding team. Photo credit: PR Fanbytes' founding team. Photo credit: PR
Individuals aged 13-32 exist in a highly curated digitized world, constantly filtering the perfect photos to post on Instagram, crafting witty 140-character Tweets, watching friends’ Stories on Snapchat, and more.
They know what they Like, most influenced by the people they Follow to click, share, and buy.
Nevertheless, millennials continue to be a hard consumer group to captivate, as digital marketing is still a relatively new phenomenon. Brands have yet to communicate effectively with their younger customers online, thus losing out on a population with incredible buying power. Advertising Age revealed that millennials are expected to “spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017.”
With numbers like these, nobody wants to miss out on the fun.
Incorporating marketing strategies that efficiently target this population of GenY over-sharers is the challenge of this changing environment. One company successful in marketing to millennials is, in fact, operated by millennials.
Founded by three British entrepreneurs under the age of 22, Fanbytes utilizes strong software and analytics to match brands with influencers from social media platforms to pull together effective advertising campaigns.
In an interview with Geektime, the startup’s Co-founder Timothy Armoo explained that he and Fanbytes’ Co-founder Ambrose Cooke, along with CTO Mitchell Fasanya, optimize their software to make these meaningful connections between advertisers and internet personalities in ways that save costs and create greater ROI.
Photo credit: Screenshot of Fanbytes website
Stimulating genuine, authentic content is Fanbytes’ goal. Without their specialized Fanbytes Score, jumpstarting such relationships would not be as organic. The algorithmic Score measures the actual impact a person has, and, as Armoo shared, is the biggest selling point of the platform.
“We’re actually using the YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter API in order to get the information there, to get all of the audience data there. As a concept, it’s hard,” Armoo told Geektime. “[The Fanbytes Score] draws on everything across YouTube subscribers, average views on Twitter and Instagram, and the growth rates [over the] past X amount of months. [It] helps brands hold really powerful influencer campaigns…Rather, it’s a detailed way in which you can figure out how this person drives volume and drives results.”
Companies launching their sponsored content proposals on Fanbytes — most of which reside in the U.S., UK, and central Europe — benefit from the digital platform’s examinal technology, which pinpoints the intended audience’s genders, ages, locations, and interests. The automated platform exponentially reduces advertising costs, simply eliminating the need for a campaign manager and full marketing team. Armoo told Geektime that campaigns can start for as low as 100 quid, or just over $130 USD. Choosing Fanbytes’ “Self Service” stream allows brands to operate the campaign independently, whereas the “Managed” option grants brands with Fanbytes’ involved assistance throughout the entire process.
Influencers, often trusted with full creative control over projects, are subsequently able to submit their ideas for different brands’ campaigns. They are also notified by Fanbytes of applications that the algorithms see as a possible big opportunity.
“If you think about influencers, what you have in one single swoop is production, and distribution, and ideation. You have people with ideas that resonate with them. They are distributing it to their audience. You essentially have a creative agency, a production agency, and a marketing agency all in one, which is unrivaled in other molds of [traditional] media [formats],” Armoo relayed to Geektime.
What makes a YouTuber “influential”?
He explained in detail how being relatable yet aspirational, as well as being someone who appeals to the common interests of their personal audience, are the main characteristics of influencer success. “It’s not so much X amount of subscribers equals X amount of followers at all,” he stated. “Someone on a 50,000 subscriber base can still not be an influencer, because they don’t influence the decision of anyone.”
Every campaign includes a tracking link that can be easily inserted in the caption of any native content campaign. After brands select the social media influencer they feel is the best fit for their campaign, Fanbytes provides comprehensive key metrics in a dashboard format, enabling involved parties to watch their tracking buzz, sales, and downloads in numbers. Driving both awareness of the campaign and downloads of the product or service are the backbone of the influencer model’s success.
In one of their most notable campaigns, Fanbytes was approached by world-renowned Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, who Armoo and his team matched with Kieran Brown, a teenage soccer fanatic with almost 300,000 subscribers on YouTube. The duo filmed a native content video for the launch of Ronaldinho’s limited edition gold hoverboards, garnering upwards of 2.5 million views.
Video is ostensibly the most common and prosperous medium used in Fanbytes’ campaigns, likely because it allows viewers to live vicariously through the influencers they admire. According to Armoo, however, “Video is going to have to change, to accommodate to where most people are spending their time.” He predicts that both short-form and videos shot on mobile phones with vertical positioning will increase in importance and popularity over the next five to ten years, due to the fact that people are increasingly consuming the majority of their content in a vertical, mobile manner.
He continued, “It’s been a pretty seamless transition from YouTube to Snapchat. It’s pretty much the same medium, apart from shorter videos and mobile.”
According to a 2015 report conducted by Nielsen, watching video content on mobile devices is most convenient for 59% of people surveyed. Still, Armoo’s prediction is controversial. While millennials favor vertical video, disdainful annoyance of the mobile phone-friendly format is furiously strong for other cohorts. Landscape video remains appealing because, as Gizmodo reports, “Human eyes are designed to see the world in widescreen.” Shooting videos in portrait defies the horizontal nature of our movie, television, and computer screens, and excludes the full frame of whatever subject the videographer is aiming to capture.
Why this 18-month-old startup is not in a rush to raise more money
Nevertheless in the 18 months since Fanbytes’ founding, the company has had astounding success, with campaigns with Adidas, GoPro, Sephora, Nickelodeon, and other big name brands on their roster. It may be surprising that Armoo and his team only raised seed funding for their company, and are are not looking to raise any additional funding.
“If you’re building software, funding is giving your company to someone else. You started your company to make money or bring change into the world or solve a problem. People see funding like, ‘Oh, I got Series A, Series B!’ And you get a picture on TechCrunch, and that’s just not the way to get about it,” Armoo concluded to Geektime. “You have to have your customers first! It has to be a progression. That’s just embarrassing, if you raise without customers! In the startup world, I feel like there’s this infatuation with funding, as if funding equates to success. We didn’t get in this to just raise funding; we’re not an investment bank, just raising money for people.”
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