The rise of influencers of social media has led marketing firms to leverage these content creators them in their advertising campaigns. Influencers have grown to amass giant followings online, leaving them as a prime target for brands and sponsors to get their products and services in front of the former’s audience. Brainlabs, a UK-based digital media agency, has acquired Fanbytes, an influencer marketing startup, for an undisclosed amount. Fanbytes was started back in 2017 by Timothy Armoo (CEO), Ambrose Cooke (COO) and Mitchell Fasanya (CTO) while in university, and has grown to over sixty employees. The three Fanbytes founders, along with Brainlabs CEO Dan Gilbert, give their perspective on what this acquisition means for both companies going forward.
Frederick Daso: Specifically, how will Fanbytes compliment Brainlabs’s current slate of digital media capabilities in such a way that they help complete the “jigsaw” puzzle that is addressing the massive influencer marketing industry?
Daniel Gilbert: I’m incredibly excited about the explosive growth of Influencer marketing. On the one hand, it is a new channel that will become critical to CMOs. On the other hand, it is a variation on an old theme like sponsorship, where brands choose partners to associate with their brand. It’s more digital marketing that we can be more precise in our targeting and more measurable in our results. It is a perfect match for Brainlabs – creative innovation that can be enhanced with testing and technology.
Influencers have become the new A-listers, and celebrity endorsement has stood the test. In the 1700s, it was a royal endorsement that was sought for products, and now it’s the TikTok royalty with creative tools in their back pockets. Realizing the effects of amazing creativity, combined with the power of performance marketing channels, is exactly why Brainlabs and Fanbytes are a perfect match.
Daso: What qualities of the Fanbytes cofounders impressed you the most to go ahead with the acquisition of their company?
Gilbert: Timo, Mitchell and Ambrose have an incredible will to succeed. I love that not only have they become experts in a growing sector, but their desire is always to push it forward and find the next avenue of growth. They’ve created such powerful bespoke tech to drive their business mirrors the Brainlabs way of thinking alongside their test and learn sensibility. I can’t wait to start working together.
Daso: How will Brainlabs acquisition of Fanbytes further the latter’s mission to “fundamentally change how brands can speak to consumers?”
Timothy Armoo: There are two main things here that this acquisition helps us do.
Firstly is going global. Brainlabs have a big presence in Europe, APAC, US and LATAM. We can suddenly have a presence in the US in a single swoop, which serves us very well considering 40% of our revenue comes from the US; this is a massive opportunity. The second is the combination of performance marketing and influencer marketing. Influencers are increasingly becoming part of the overall marketing mix; when you combine the brand value of influencers + the precision targeting of performance marketing and have a clear, cohesive offer to brands, it’s a game-changer.
Daso: What similarities in Gilbert gave you confidence that such an acquisition would leave both parties stronger together than apart?
Armoo: I loved the ambition of Brainlabs and how incredibly fast they’ve grown. Most people are content with just doing the standard stuff and having a defensive approach in our space. Dan, however, has led Brainlabs with a very growth-oriented approach, challenging brands to keep doing things differently and experimenting. This is in our DNA; we launched the Bytehouse – Europe’s first-ever TikTok house, was one of the few to pioneer AR marketing on Snapchat, and even launched a fund to support black creators and businesses. We’ve never shied from being different and innovative, and Dan shares that DNA. We’ve been approached many times throughout our journey, but not many matched that desire to win and not just compete. Brainlabs had that mentality.
Acquisitions can result in many culture clashes and instability at a company, and we don’t have that concern at all. It’s also very significant that Brainlabs have such a focus on culture. Even during our negotiations, they won two awards. One was one of the Best Places to Work 2021 and the other is the Best Digital Agency in the UK as voted by peers. You can’t manufacture that, and that furthered our conclusion that this was a place where our team would relish.
Daso: How will Brainlabs leverage Fanbytes across its global footprint to bolster the former’s influencer offering at scale?
Armoo: Brainlabs don’t do any influencer marketing at all; they’re the best in the business at performance marketing. This, therefore, means that all influencer marketing work would be delivered through Fanbytes and, eventually, what would become Brainlabs Influencer. Both Brainlabs and Fanbytes share a focus on technology, allowing us to scale our influencer footprint through our brand workflow platform. This means we can very easily activate campaigns on a global scale very quickly. Already we’re working with Brainlabs on many deals in Europe, the US and Singapore.