RockYou has grown into one of the top video ad networks in the world by monetizing mobile and social games with advertisements. It’s now expanding into a new market with the acquisition of Fanbread, which has a platform that automates advertising for influencers.
In an exclusive interview with GamesBeat, RockYou chief executive Lisa Marino said that over the past couple of years, the Los Angeles-based Fanbread has build a solid business helping influencers — anybody with large followings on Twitch or YouTube, such as Hollywood celebrities and cooking experts — make money from their followers through advertisements.
“One of the things that has been part of our strategy is to prove that our ad monetization methodologies work outside of gaming,” said Marino. “We started digging into the influencer space and found Fanbread. They work with influencers to help engage and monetize their user bases.”
Fanbread has deals to provide advertorial content to influencers, much in the same way that RockYou inserts ads into the games that it owns and operates. The key with both RockYou’s games and Fanbread’s influencers is that they can be served programmatically, with ads being served automatically to owned-and-operated content. In the case of the influencers, they retain final approval under content that goes out under their names.
Fanbread’s writers and videographers create the content or video. Once approved, the content gets posted on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. And now RockYou can feed ads into Fanbread’s network of 30 influencers, like actresses Ashley Benson and Vanessa Hudgens. Fanbread’s influencers have a collective 64 million fans, with content that reaches 150 million to 200 million people per week on Facebook.
“It gives us an organic way to grow outside of our own ad network,” Marino said. “It gives us ad inventory, and it doubles our U.S. audience. We leverage what we do well by bring our ads to their platform.”
Fanbread signs up influencers by offering to help them scale up and monetize their followings. Most of the traffic is mobile, and that helps RockYou as it will soon have more mobile ad revenue than Facebook desktop ad revenue.
Fanbread CEO Karl House worked on the Kin Community network on YouTube. While there, his team helped create the Smosh website. His idea was to repeat the model of creating content through a single influencer and expanding it to more people.
“Humans are becoming the new distribution channel,” House said. “Vanessa Hudgens has more than 15 million Facebook followers, compared to 10 million for the New York Times. These influencers have done the hard work of building a following and a distribution network. But they are not going to produce the volume of content that will fully monetize that network and engage fans on a daily basis. What we figured out is to tap into the magic of influencers but do it in a way that is low touch for them. So what we have done is scalable.”
That’s where Fanbread comes in. It will take someone like Lisa Rinna and produce content and a website for her. It can do that by matching the influencers with freelance writers and videographers, who produce the content. Then, after the content is approved, the content is published and Fanbread monetizes it with its ad partners.
“We saw RockYou as having a lot of synergy as a top 10 video ad network,” said House, in an interview. “They have deep expertise in monetizing traffic, and so it’s a marriage that made a lot of sense for us.”
Fanbread has 12 employees. RockYou also acquired a mobile game from Gree.