Brainlabs goes shopping again with acquisition of influencer marketing agency Fanbytes

A picture of Brainlabs' Daniel Gilbert and Fanbytes' Timothy Armoo
Brainlabs: global chief executive Daniel Gilbert (left) and Fanbytes' Timothy Armoo

Latest purchase follows those of User Conversion, Medianet, Consumer Acquisition and Amazon specialist Molzi in 2021.

Digital media agency Brainlabs has acquired influencer marketing agency Fanbytes for an undisclosed sum, a deal it says will enable it to "deliver a full range of performance channels for clients".

The newcomer to the group will retain the Fanbytes name initially but eventually will be subsumed into the parent brand, Brainlabs told Campaign. The acquisition marks Brainlabs' first major foray into influencer marketing and will complement its "existing creative and social capabilities", the group said. It will help Brainlabs introduce influencer expertise to its markets in the US, Latam and Apac regions.

Fanbytes' 60-strong staff will join its new parent. This includes chief executive Timothy Armoo, who started the business in 2017 while at university, and co-founders Ambrose Cooke and Mitchell Fasanya. The trio will lead influencer marketing at Brainlabs, with their new job titles reflecting that – respectively they become vice-president influencer, vice-president influencer integration and vice-president influencer tech.

Fanbytes – which was owned by its three founders, with angel investment from industry names Nigel Morris, Guy Phillipson and Jerry Buhlmann – specialises in the TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat platforms, has worked with 500 brands globally, grew 130% in the past five years and and has a client base that includes Samsung, H&M, Estée Lauder, Mattel, Ubisoft and Nike.

It shares Brainlabs' "data-led, test-and-learn" style of marketing and uses a proprietary dataset called Bytesights, containing more than three million influencers. This lets brands monitor growth, predict trends, target the most effective influencers for their needs and "pinpoint conversations around their products, competitors and sectors".

Fanbytes has also led projects such as Bytesquad, a group of six TikTok creators who created Europe's first "TikTok house" in partnership with 2K Games, Rubik's and Public Health England.

In 2020, Fanbytes launched a £250,000 fund to help address the pay gap between black and non-black influencers and to provide funding and expertise to black-owned businesses. In its first year it supported 14 of the latter and more than 85 of the former.

Brainlabs is fronted by global chief executive Daniel Gilbert, a former Google executive, under whose direction the group has been on an acquisition spree. In 2021, it bought four companies: Manchester-based User Conversion, Canada's Medianet, US-based Consumer Acquisition and the full-service Amazon specialist Molzi, founded in 2017 by Chris Mole.

Brainlabs has said it is on a mission to become "the number one media agency in the world". Last year it won 78 accounts, bringing its total to 135, according to Campaign's School Reports, while it lost 12. Its UK staff stood at 354, with its acquisition of Fanbytes pushing the group into more than 400 employees.

Commenting on its latest agency deal, Gilbert said: "I'm super excited about welcoming Fanbytes to Brainlabs, not only because I'm in awe at what they've achieved in such a short space of time but I also see them as an essential piece of the jigsaw in our digital media offering.

"Influencer marketing has rapidly become an integral part of the digital media mix so to be able to offer it alongside our other capabilities under one roof is a huge advantage to our clients."

Armoo added: "From day one, Fanbytes has been about more than just an ambition to fundamentally change how brands can speak to consumers (and vice versa); but always being one calculated step ahead in how we achieve that. From being first advocates of Snap and TikTok before the industry took either seriously, to literally inventing new ways for brands to use those channels, we've always carved our own path, and helped our clients carve theirs, and we're excited to continue this with Brainlabs.

"Through Brainlabs' global network we can supercharge what we do, bringing our technology, expertise and talent to an even bigger audience. We've also found a kindred spirit that shares similar ambitions."

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