Services Offered: Influencer Marketplace
Channels: Snapchat, Instagram
Note: While Fanbytes offers their service for Snapchat and Instagram, this review focuses solely on Snapchat. The Instagram component is new, launched sometime after we received a demo but before we published. For now, it’s enough to note that the Instagram features are geared for Stories, which makes sense given that IG just took Snapchat’s idea and ran with it.
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It’s been a tough year for Snapchat. Consider the past 12 months. They went public in March, 2017, two months before issuing a quarterly earnings report showing a $2.2b loss. In August, Instagram’s Stories feature—just the one feature, an idea which they basically stole from Snapchat—had nearly 90 million more daily active users. Snap stock fell to an all-time low by August 11. Then came The Redesign. You’ve heard of it, I’m sure. According to research at YouGov, that update essentially “erased over two years’ worth of positive feelings among millennials.” Ouch.
Even more recently, Snapchat can’t seem to win for losing. It took a few months for them to come around, but by the end of April they announced a redesign of the redesign—to placate users—and causing the stock to drop again. Finally, just today, the company announced it would be launching non-skippable ads, 6 second interstitials that will be included in any of the “Shows” you can find in the app. That’s not actually a bad thing—why would companies pay for an ad users didn’t want to see? The problem is the ads give brands no way of engaging the users, no links to click on or otherwise spark the kind of dialogue that makes Instagram such an attractive marketing platform.
Maybe the reason behind all this faltering is that the company doesn’t actually understand its own value proposition. Timothy Armoo, founder and CEO of Fanbytes seems to think they don’t—and he’s probably right. Snaps and puppy ear filters are nice features, but as Armoo wrote in a post on campaignlive.co.uk, the app isn’t merely another social media channel—“It’s glaringly obvious that Snap are the new TV,” he says. Armoo makes a compelling case that the app is the primary source of “broadcast” entertainment and news for millennials, precisely because it presents those things to them in a format that feels more comfortable. Armoo, a 23-year old, probably has some authority on the issue of what millennials want out of the app. Amusingly, his gut-level understanding of the app is enough to make one think that Evan Spiegel, Snapchat’s fumbling 28-year old CEO, is far too out of touch with the kids these days.
Except Armoo doesn’t just have keen insights into the way Snapchat is used by its core audience. He also gets what brands want out of it, too. They don’t want to just cram one-way static ads into Snapchats corporate-produced shows. They want to distribute authentic, engaging, and interactive marketing content through influencers—and they want to be able to measure the performance. With Fanbytes, he’s given them just that. So far, Snapchat hasn’t been a primary destination for influencer marketing. It’s being done, of course, but not as methodically (or, as software assisted-ly) as it’s done on any of the big three social channels. Snapchat’s Fanbytes aims to change all that, with a turnkey platform that’s been successfully used by such companies as Universal, Sony Music Group, and Charlotte Tilbury. Oh, and some little company called Apple used them to promote their music service.
While it’s fair to say that Fanbytes has attracted attention based on their being the only influencer marketing company focused on Snapchat, you have to realise that simply being one-of-a-kind doesn’t translate to success. It isn’t enough to just show up to a party, you’ve got to bring something to it, as well. So what does Fanbytes bring? Read on and find out.
Fanbytes isn’t a SaaS platform that you access through a monthly subscription. Instead, brands work with the company on a campaign by campaign basis, spending whatever their budget will allow for each one. Minimum spend is £3000.
What’s refreshing about Fanbytes’s pricing model is there’s no wasted spending: they charge on a cost-per-completed view model. If a user abandons an ad halfway through, there’s no charge. Better news than this is the company’s track record with campaigns, which average a 93% completion rate. What if you get more views than you budgeted for? Not to worry: you only get charged up to your maximum, and anything beyond that is a bonus.
For the Fanbytes platform, the details are as much about the company’s approach as it is about the mechanics of launching a campaign. Their website’s tagline defines the company as “what happens when a group of young geeks start an advertising company for Generation Z.” The average age of a Fanbytes employee is 21, and they do not shy away from their youth. Snapchat’s users are overwhelmingly Gen Z, and that’s an audience brands can’t reach as reliably anywhere else. So who better to help craft campaigns than a group of whip smart kids that speak the language?
That native understanding of how users engage with Snapchat—what grabs their attention, the ways in which they want to engage—led to the creation of what Fanbytes calls the “Sandwich Ad.”
The basic construct is a four-panel story where the ad itself is sandwiched in between short videos of an influencer introducing and then commenting on the ad. Then the fourth panel contains a call to action of some kind, using swipes and/or snapcodes to lead the viewer to other content or offers. The Sandwich Ad is no more than 40 seconds long, with each panel lasting up to 10 seconds. This format—short scenes that jump back and forth with an interactive feature at the end—is tailor-made for Generation Z. It’s also a pretty clever way to answer the question: How can I effectively use influencers on Snapchat?
The predefined pace and structure of the ad makes it simple for brands to put together something that looks seamless in its context. It’s not hard to imagine why their completion rates are so high. And though the template for the Sandwich Ad dictates the function, what brands can do with it is highly customisable. Actually, it’s not exactly what brands can do with it: it’s what Fanbytes does for brands. The platform is essentially a digital frontend to an ad agency, so getting a campaign going is just a matter of filling out a few forms.
To get started, you navigate over to your Campaigns Dashboard and create a new one. Here you can specify your budget and the target demographic with some basic info (location, gender, and age). You can also define what the objective of the campaign is, when you want to run it, and the swipe-up link for your CTA. You can also attach a Facebook pixel ID for easy audience retargeting. This is all brands need to do to find influencers—the rest is done by the software finding influencers who are the best fit for the campaign requirements. Brands only need to approve or decline those who are suggested to them, though they don’t get quite as much info about them as they might like. They’ll learn the influencer’s “Fanbytes score”—the higher the score, the more quality engagement they’re getting from their followers. They also won’t be choosing from a terribly large pool of influencers.
Currently, Fanbytes has a pretty small network of influential Snapchat users, less than 1,000 at this point. That’s the bad news. The good news about their influencers outweighs the bad, though. First, the combined reach of all their influencers is well over 30 million, which is nothing to be ashamed about. And the influencers themselves are either handpicked by the Fanbytes team itself, or they’ve applied and have been completely vetted by them before being accepted. This isn’t an old-school opt-in database, where any random person gets to join because they have a bunch of followers.
The influencers that are ultimately approved go on to create their own versions of the first and third panels of the ad. To fill the second and fourth panels, brands have one of two options. They can create their own 10 second ad (and the 10 second CTA follow-up) and upload it through the website, or they can make use of another unique feature Fanbytes has come up with.
In addition to influencers, Fanbytes also has a network of graphic and video designers who can be contracted out through the platform to create the content for panels two and four.
With all these fields filled out, the campaign will run itself. Influencers, once approved, go off and make their content. The platform puts it all together, panels one through four, creates the ad, and once the whole thing goes live, brands just sit back and monitor the results.
Fanbytes is a little light in the data department, honestly. You’ll get a thorough understanding of how your campaign performed, but you really won’t get to know these audiences any better (and thus be able to fine tune your efforts for the future). The reports you’ll get from Fanbytes cover the following metrics:
- Clicks location — The city and country of each click your ad received
- Device data — The type of device engaged users are clicking from
- Views — Total views on your 10 second ad
- Number of swipe-ups — How many people engaged
- Click-through rate for campaign — The percentage of people who responded to your CTA.
- Screenshots — Not just a vanity metric. Embedded snapcodes need to be screenshotted for users to work with them.
- Completion rate - Better than views, the completion rate shows the percentage of people who watched every last second of each of the entire sandwich ad.
- Swipe ups over Time - This shows which times of day (and which days) people interacted with your ad.
While all this data is helpful, it doesn’t really do much for future planning—it’s more about justifying the spend the in the first place. There’s nothing wrong with knowing how well your ad performed—it’s good to know you got your money’s worth. Still, without any way to cross reference this information with audience data—especially things like audience interests and brand affinities—there’s not enough here to build on for your next campaign. In this respect, a Fanbytes campaign is its own isolated endeavor. That said, this isolated endeavor is much more than you’re able to do on Snapchat than would be possible with any other platform.
Fanbytes has some deficiencies, yes. Their network of influencers is still pretty small, and with their newly launched Instagram tools it’s even smaller. That’s something that can improve organically, given enough time and success. What they need to focus on now is being able to improve their data game. Right now, they’re the only company offering this kind of service for Snapchat, an app that is looking like more of a gamble with each passing day. But if Snapchat can turn things around, Fanbytes won’t be alone in this regard for much longer. Their ideas are out there now, just waiting to be co-opted by some other company. To get way ahead of the pack before it even forms, Fanbytes would do well to focus on trying to get as much audience data as they can.
Even so, it’s an exceedingly clever platform, developed and run by an even cleverer bunch of kids. Their youth shouldn’t be a turn-off: they are perfectly positioned to speak to the audience that uses Snapchat, precisely because they are the same demographic. Their unique understanding of both Snapchat and the ways in which people engage with it isn’t just a function of their age—it’s also because they’re avid Snapchat users themselves. This is comfortable territory for them. You wouldn’t ask someone from Spain to be your guide in Germany for the same reason you shouldn’t hire someone in their 30’s to tell you how to advertise on Snapchat: they don’t speak the language. From that perspective, Fanbytes becomes a necessity. You aren’t going to reach these audiences anywhere else.
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Services Offered: Influencer Marketplace
Channels: Snapchat, Instagram