Google acquires FameBit to cash in on YouTube branded content

Yesterday, Google announced that it is acquiring FameBit, an influencer marketing platform. The startup, which was founded in 2013, helps brands connect with more than 45,000 content creators for branded content opportunities, including product placements, promotions and sponsorships.

Many of those content creators are on YouTube, and some of them are pulling in really big bucks.

According to Forbes, Felix Kjellberg, who goes by the name PewDiePie on YouTube, earned $12 million in 2015. He’s just one of a number of YouTube multi-millionaires and all told, Forbes says the top 13 creators on YouTube generated nearly $55 million last year.

Much of that money comes from advertising revenue. YouTube’s Partner Program, which is coming up on its ten year anniversary, allows advertisers to buy media against video content on YouTube. Through the Partner Program, YouTube shares revenue from the ads it sells with content creators, a lucrative business for the most popular YouTubers.

And it’s only getting more lucrative as Google disclosed that “the top 100 advertisers have increased their spend on YouTube video ads by 50 percent.”

But increasingly, companies are not just buying ads, they’re looking to team up with YouTube influencers to sponsor their content and channels, feature products in their videos and run promotions. In many cases, this branded content is seen as being more attractive to brands, as it allows them to integrate themselves into the content.


Just how much branded content is being created?

In announcing the acquisition of their company, FameBit founders David Kierzkowski and Agnes Kozera revealed that FameBit has been involved in the facilitating the creation of more than 25,000 branded videos, “generating over 2 billion minutes of watch time” for brands like Activision, adidas, Canon and Sony.

Until now, YouTube hasn’t been involved in these deals, meaning that Google isn’t getting a cut of revenue that one of its star properties is directly supporting.

Validation for influencer marketing

Google’s acquisition of FameBit signals that Google sees influencer marketing and branded content as an important part of the online marketing ecosystem, particularly on YouTube. According to Google VP of Product Management, Ariel Bardin, “We believe that Google’s relationship with brands and YouTube’s partnerships with creators, combined with FameBit’s technology and expertise, will help increase the number of branded content opportunities available, bringing even more revenue into the online video community.”

Bardin says “[content] creators will always have the choice in how they work with brands,” and FameBit’s founders indicated that the company will “remain a standalone operation for now.” But given the growing popularity of branded content among brands, it would not be surprising to see Google more tightly integrate FameBit’s platform into YouTube eventually.

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