“Stay Famous” with FameBit: A Self-Serve Marketplace for Creators and Brands
How a two-sided marketplace connecting creators and brands democratized sponsored content and got acquired by Google
Think about the last time you sat down to watch your favorite show and actually paid attention to every ad. If your answer to this was many years ago or never, you’re in good company! Consumers want content that entertains and informs and as a result, brands and companies have had to get more creative with their marketing strategy. Celebrity endorsements, which attach the fame of a star to a brand or product, have long been popular; however, influencer marketing, which creates word-of-mouth advertising using individuals that are trusted in certain circles, is on the rise. According to Musefind, 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement (i).
Founded in 2013, FameBit is an online platform originally designed to connect small and mid-sized brands to mid-tier YouTube stars with 50,000-500,000 subscribers, often in very niche demographics (ii). The way it works is that brands post campaign ideas or products they would like to market on the website and creators registered with FameBit then bid on the projects and submit ideas for how they might execute the campaigns. These brands pay their selected creators anywhere from one hundred to tens of thousands of dollars for sponsorship and paid promotion in the form of ads, viral videos, and product placement within adjacent content. This self-serve, two-sided marketplace has benefits for both brands and creators that are outlined below.
- Targeting – FameBit provides a database of creators to reach out to, helping smaller brands with lower marketing budgets get access to creators in different spaces. The FameBit creator database is searchable by price, reach, website traffic, and other criteria, allowing for very specific targeting.
- Scale – FameBit’s technology and automated processes make it easier for brands to hire, communicate with, and approve completed content from many creators across different platforms
- Variety – FameBit’s freelance nature gives brands the freedom to work with different individuals for different campaigns rather than being locked into exclusive relationships
- Non-Advertising Revenue – Most creators cannot survive on what they are paid via AdSense for their views on YouTube and are looking for alternative revenue streams. Earning non-advertising revenue through brand sponsorships and promotion was previously a luxury only available to the biggest stars managed by giant multi-channel networks (MCNs); however, with FameBit, smaller creators with fewer subscribers can still make money with branded content.
- Control – Creators set their own prices and work directly with brands on campaigns that fit with their own audience and personal brand. This creates great content as well as helps them monetize.
- Growth – FameBit has a referral program for creators where points earned for referrals can be redeemed for lighting equipment, microphones, cameras and more in order to produce higher quality content and grow their channels (iii)
FameBit makes money from both brands and creators by taking a 20% commission on all deals. It charges brands a 10% fee when hiring a creator and charges creators a 10% fee upon completion and brand approval of their content (iv).
Google acquired FameBit in October 2016 as part of a strategy to increase YouTube creator loyalty and retention (v). By supporting alternative revenue sources for creators that flow through YouTube, the goal is that more branded content opportunities will become available and bring more revenue into the online video community. Currently FameBit has relationships with 14,418 brands and 55,377 creators hoping to “stay famous” (the company slogan) (vi).
I view FameBit as a winner because its founders focused on two underserved markets: upcoming YouTubers looking for new ways to make money and smaller brands hoping to connect with a younger demographic. I’m impressed by the way the company was able to connect the two groups and make every transaction a true win-win for both parties, as well as how they were able to grow and attract bigger brands like Adidas and Sony. The acquisition is part of a larger trend of YouTube starting to offer services to creators that previously were only offered by MCNs and it will be interesting to see how their “frenemy” relationship plays out in the complex online video ecosystem.
i. Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahweinswig/2016/10/05/influencers-are-the-new-brands/#7ffbae427fc5
ii. Pando. https://pando.com/2014/06/24/famebit-gets-1-5m-to-democratize-sponsored-content-on-youtube-connecting-long-tail-brands-and-creators/
iii. Vlognation. http://www.vlognation.com/famebit-interview/
iv. Famebit. http://help.famebit.com/general-faqs/how-much-does-it-cost-to-use-famebit
v. TechCrunch. https://techcrunch.com/2016/10/11/google-acquires-famebit-to-connect-youtube-creators-with-brands/
vi. Famebit. https://famebit.com/
Student comments on “Stay Famous” with FameBit: A Self-Serve Marketplace for Creators and Brands
I had not heard of Famebit so thank you for sharing! Influencer marketing certainly has a bright future. A challenge they might face is that the brands and creators that increase in popularity through the help of Famebit could eventually outgrow Famebit itself and try to cut them out to avoid sacrificing 20% of the deal. Do you have any sense of how they might be curbing that or how large of a loss that is? I also suspect that many creators will have a limit on how much of their content is sponsored in order to maintain a semblance of neutrality and authenticity. This won’t kill Famebit’s prospects, but might place a cap on it.
Hello, thanks for your comment! I think your point is valid for top creators that have their own following: if they are big enough that advertisers are connecting with them directly through their managers, etc., then FameBit has lost its value add. However, because FameBit has historically concentrated on creators that aren’t big enough to be attracting that kind of attention or deal flow, I think it still has value for the vast majority of these long-tail creators. Also, because of the immense popularity of online video, I imagine there will always be more small creators to take the place of the big ones that eventually grow too big for the platform.
The authenticity piece is interesting. I think people are definitely aware that paid promotion is rampant; however, I do think most fans still believe that their favorite stars only endorse things that they actually like and would use. These creators know their own brand and I think they are very careful about anything that seems inauthentic since they could really lose followers (who are really the base of their stardom) if it’s revealed that they are fakes.