BuzzFeed is a cross-platform digital media company, delivering news and entertainment to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Founded in 2006, they started as a notable online quiz forum with a healthy sprinkle of pop culture articles. In 2011, they hired Ben Smith, formerly of Politico, as editor-in-chief who immediately expanded into serious journalism.
And expanded they have. Today, Buzzfeed has diversified into several vertical-driven sub-properties (Buzzfeed News, Tasty, Nifty, Goodful, and As/Is, to name a few) and over 90 social brands under their umbrella property. According to Tubular data, BuzzFeed topped the 2017 Video Aces chart as the number one media and entertainment company in 2017, garnering over 57 billion video views on Facebook and over 7 billion views on YouTube.
The Secret to BuzzFeed’s Success
We interviewed Darris Lee, Head of Data Analytics at BuzzFeed, to dig into how they have been able to successfully grow their audiences across multiple platforms.
Full disclosure, I have a no-BuzzFeed rule at work because I would otherwise spend hours in their incredibly engaging rabbit-hole of content. I am already married, but am tempted to take the “Plan Your Wedding Menu and We’ll Reveal Your Honeymoon Spot” quiz. New rule, from now on I will only partake in the top 3 stories, which generally delivers a healthy balance of news and pleasure (read #RealArtistsTryPancakeArt).
You can find an excerpt of our interview below, along with this short teaser. Check out the full version HERE
Darris, how are you able to grow audiences across every major, social platform?
Darris Lee: We create identity-based, socially shareable content that is native to the platform where it’s distributed. That started as an experiment to understand what would be a successful video on Facebook and now, has led us to one of the largest social food networks. In 2017, Tasty had the most sponsored video views with over one billion views.
What role has Tubular played in your ability to effectively monetize your audience?
Tubular’s been great in helping us monetize our audience. We’ve created competitive landscape reports for each of our franchises and brands, and we use data like the average number of views per video that our BuzzFeed brands can get compared to the competitive set in that market. We also look at the share of voice for that market, and use that data to demonstrate why our clients should be advertising with BuzzFeed. For example, in late 2017, Tasty had 2.4 times the number of average views per video as its competitors had. Tubular allows us to understand how we compare to our competitors, where we’re trending against benchmarks in the entire market and for our sales teams to put numbers behind their opinion that we are the best for our clients to advertise with.
How does Tubular play a role in helping you win?
Tubular covers every major platform that’s important to us and it’s incredibly easy to use. We’re using Tubular for both sales support and content strategy. We look at our franchises to understand what content they are putting out there that’s successful and how that compares to the content that their competitors are creating. But we are also using that data to compare our success in terms of performance for views and engagement to competitors to demonstrate to clients that we have the brands that are leading the markets that they’re looking to advertise in.
Why do you think brands choose to work with Buzzfeed?
I think brands work with BuzzFeed because we do a really good job of creating content that our audience identifies with. It creates a genuine connection – more than a general ad. We really look to integrate the client’s product into something that’s meaningful to our audience.
As someone who lives and breathes data, give us a prediction for 2018.
I predict long-form content will be valuable in 2018. We are seeing, and, I think a lot of other successful publishers and platforms are seeing, that there’s still going to be value in creating high-quality, long-form content that captures the audience’s attention for a long period of time.