YouTube's FameBit rebrands as YouTube BrandConnect, shuts down its self-service program

Sarah Perez

FameBit, YouTube's influencer marketing platform acquired by Google in 2016, is today undergoing a rebranding. The new platform will now be called YouTube BrandConnect, and will remain open to eligible creators in the U.S. with over 25,000 subscribers. The update follows FameBit's recent announcement regarding the closure of its self-service website which allowed creators to independently find brands to work with, submit deal proposals, and complete campaigns.

Now, YouTube BrandConnect will only focus on the full-service side of its offering, where a team of experts proactively matches creators with brands and provides end-to-end campaign management and delivery. The company said creators to earn 30 times more from full-service deals compared with self-service deals, and self-service only represented 4% of total FameBit payouts to creators.

The self-service website and all accounts will be closed on July 31, 2020.

From this point forward, creators eligible for the full-service program will be able to sign up for YouTube BrandConnect through YouTube Studio. The company says it will add more campaign management features to the YouTube Studio platform in the months ahead.

For participating brands, the goal of the revamped program is to provide measurable campaigns related to their branded content deals with top YouTube creators.

On this front, YouTube has added new measurement tools designed for greater accountability --  like Brand Interest Lift, Influencer Lift, and organic view-through conversations. Brand Interest Lift measures consumer search behavior resulting from the creator's video. Influencer Lift measures consumer sentiment on Purchase Intent, Brand Recall, and other factors. Brands can also use Google Insights and other tools to measure the impact and the ROI of influencer marketing for the first time on YouTube, the company notes.

YouTube says it will also soon expand its ad technology offerings to include an updated "shopping shelf" that appears below a YouTube video. Soon, it will roll out the option for a "media shelf" which will allow viewers to rent or buy movies a video recommends, instead of only featuring merchandise for sale or apps for download, as the shelf can do now.

On the creator side, YouTube claims its insights-based matchmaking tools allow for access to more branded content deals. Over the past two years, the average deal size resulting from these matches across the full-service platform grew more than 260%, the company says.

Meanwhile, the influencer marketing industry as a whole is projected to reach $15 billion by 2022, YouTube says, citing Business Insider Intelligence data from December 2019. This forecast, due to its timing, does not take into account the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on influencer marketing, of course. The fallout from the spread of the coronavirus -- including things like travel restrictions, business closures, and event cancellations -- led to a related reduction in influencer brand deals, eMarketer reported in April. More than 1 in 4 U.S. influencers said in March they were receiving fewer collaboration offers from brands as a result.

The longer-term impacts from these changes mean brands working with influencers will want more reliable, measurable data, about their campaign's success. In addition, a more robust platform for brand deals and measurement will also give YouTube a competitive advantage over TikTok, which has seen usage increasing during the pandemic, particularly with a younger user base.

"We’ll continue investing in our technology and expanding internationally to bring new experiences to creators, brands, and their fans globally," said YouTube, in an announcement about the rebranding and update. "This is just the beginning for YouTube BrandConnect, and we’re excited to bring even more value to creators, brands, and viewers through branded content campaigns in the months ahead."