BuzzFeed is using its viral successes and new TV alliances to prove it’s a brand play.
“We have always been known for making big viral hits, but what’s exciting to me is this is the first time we have metrics that are comparable to TV,” said BuzzFeed’s founder and CEO, Jonah Peretti, at the publisher’s NewFront on Monday.
A Facebook Live video of BuzzFeed staffers wrapping a watermelon with rubber bands until it popped banked 800,000 concurrent live viewers. “That 800,000 is the first time we started to have Internet TV compare to traditional TV,” he said.
BuzzFeed hopes to convince advertisers it’s more than its own dot-com property and apps. Twenty-seven percent of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes from native Facebook video, 23% comes from direct-to-site or apps, 21% from Snapchat, 14% from YouTube and 6% from general Facebook traffic.
“If something is doing incredibly well on our site, we’ll produce a video for YouTube,” Peretti said. “If it does well on YouTube, we extend it to Snapchat or Facebook. We learn from a market, then create a new market.”
BuzzFeed is also banking on new media investments from broadcaster NBCUniversal, which made a $200 million handshake with the publisher last August.
“It’s still in the early stages of this partnership, but from sponsoring to integrating and creating content, the combined force of NBC and BuzzFeed is part of our [brand] solution,” said Greg Coleman, president of BuzzFeed. “We’ve made dozens of sales calls integrating the two brands for the marketing community, and it’s a big part of our go-to-market strategy for 2016.”
With more dollars seemingly ebbing toward larger “upfront” commitments in digital video, could they eventually counter programmatic or audience-based buys?
“Facebook and Google have O&O that’s large enough to command that [upfront] attention but even then, it won’t be a majority of their revenue,” predicted Bill Day, the CEO of the video ad tech company Tremor. “Upfronts in digital video are a component of what happens, but it won’t be the majority of what happens in the industry nor for us.”
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