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what's up

Welcome to slackingoff, where we have in-depth conversations on whatever is particularly interesting. Follow below.

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ameet
What's up Tony.

anthony
Just came back from Seattle this past weekend. I went to a few of these places in this video:
youtube.com
YouTube
$8 Salmon Vs. $56 Salmon

ameet
Holy smokes 10 million views. Looks like people really love salmon 🐟 🐟 🐟

ameet
Actually, you want to know what's even more amazing?

ameet

ameet
BuzzFeed Video has almost 10 billion views across all of their YouTube videos. That is absurd.

anthony
Sheesh. I still remember when Buzzfeed was exclusively pushing out these:
buzzfeed.com
BuzzFeed Community
The 25 Funniest AutoCorrects Of 2011
The very best autocorrects of the year! We searched the web for the very best/worst autocorrect mishaps of 2011 -- hope you enjoy!!!

ameet
I guess "10 Things You Never Knew About Bacon" could only take you so far. That being said, pioneering the "Listicle" (felt dirty writing that word btw) definitely helped BuzzFeed develop expertise in making stuff go viral.

anthony
What is more impressive is how they were able to leverage that skill into creating a new business model:
buzzfeed.com
BuzzFeed
Which Donut Are You?
You HAVE to know.

anthony
Brought to you by Dunkin' Donuts™

ameet
What's cool about BuzzFeed is that they pioneered the idea of "Native Advertising", that you can make ads that look just like regular non-sponsored content, and then apply the same formulas to make those posts reach the intended audiences.

ameet
What's even more cool about BuzzFeed is that they are really smart about figuring what the cool kids are interested in these days and staying one step ahead.

anthony
BuzzFeed has always been able to stay in front of the curve. Remember when everyone's newsfeed was filled with shitty listicles from websites like Upworthy, Distractify, Viralnova?

anthony
All that content disappeared once Facebook brought down the hammer:
adweek.com
adweek.com
Facebook Killed the Viral Star: Upworthy's Traffic Plummets After News Feed Tweaks
Upworthy’s traffic dropped from 90 million in November to 48 million in January.

anthony

Around the same time Facebook made its News Feed tweaks to focus on “high quality” content, BuzzFeed hired a number of investigative journalists — as well as political and foreign reporters — to supplement the site’s unserious journalism, most famously the listicles and cat GIFs.


anthony
The only one that survived the Facebook purge was BuzzFeed. They knew from their past innovations that certain formats have a limited lifespan before copycats spring up and destroyed the virality yield. Because of this, they not only started producing higher quality listicles, but they started producing video content.

anthony
This came at an opportune time as Facebook was wanting to move into highlighting video content on the Newsfeed. A marriage of convenience led BuzzFeed to find its next platform.

ameet
I think the emphasis on video was a confluence of a few different things; people becoming more accustomed to watching videos on their phones, a proliferation of short-form video content (easy to watch when you're on the go), more efficient video compression, and high-gigabyte data plans. Whatever the reason, BuzzFeed saw it coming and doubled down on the format.

anthony
The reason is pretty simple. BuzzFeed make a lot of money from video ads:
nytimes.com
The New York Times
BuzzFeed Regroups as Media Turns Video-Centric
A reorganization emphasizes video and entertainment to generate revenue, but executives say the company remains committed to its news operations.

anthony

Already, video represents more than 50 percent of BuzzFeed’s total revenue, compared with 15 percent at the end of 2014. In the next two years, BuzzFeed expects that video will generate up to 75 percent of its advertising revenue, according to a person briefed on the company’s operations.


ameet
What's really great about this is that BuzzFeed's business model is perfectly set up to capitalize on whatever is the biggest money maker. The way it was previously they did their own content (listicles about Soap) and sponsored content / native advertisements (listicles about Soap Brought To You By Dove #sp). The advertiser paid BuzzFeed for their expertise in production and in making stuff go viral.

ameet
BuzzFeed also makes money "indirectly" through advertising; that is, they make some piece of content (video about Soap) and then post it on Facebook and make money on the advertising revenue that Facebook generates for them. What BuzzFeed is basically doing is outsourcing the ad sales process to Facebook or YouTube or Snapchat so that they can focus on what they do best, which is producing cool shit and making it reach the right audience.

ameet
I'll bet that part of the "regrouping" above is because they had this come-to-Jesus moment where they realized that making a fixed fee from a brand for a single video gives them a lower ROI than producing a different original video and monetizing it forever through pre-roll advertising. But what do I know, I'm just a guy who likes cats.

anthony
I think that is a good way to look at how BuzzFeed is so different from legacy media companies and its own competitors. Take Vice, for example, the "bad boy" new media company that has followed the more traditional growth strategy (e.g. starting a cable channel):
nytimes.com
mobile.nytimes.com
As Vice Moves More to TV, It Tries to Keep Brash Voice
Vice has signed deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars with established TV companies that are eager to engage its young, male audience. But will it have to play by different rules?

anthony

Now, Vice is on the verge of getting its own cable channel, which would give the company a traditional outlet for its slate of non-news programming. If all goes as planned, A&E Networks, the television group owned by Hearst and Disney, will turn over its History Channel spinoff, H2, to Vice...Vice, based in Brooklyn, also recently signed a multiyear $100 million deal with Rogers Communications, a Canadian media conglomerate, to produce original content for TV, smartphone and desktop viewers...


anthony
But from the leaked financials, it seems to be working for them.

anthony

Vice’s finances are private, but according to an internal document reviewed by The New York Times and verified by a person familiar with the company’s financials, the company is on track to make about $915 million in revenue this year.


ameet
Both of these guys are clearly trying to build the world's next great media brand, like an NBC or Disney optimized for social media. You know you must be doing something correctly when the incumbents start taking shots at you:

ameet
Business Insider
CNN president rips BuzzFeed and Vice: 'We crush both of them. They are not even in our same class'
Despite Jeff Zucker's dismissal of his digital competitors, CNN has repeatedly relied on BuzzFeed's original reporting in its own broadcasts and write-ups.

ameet
Here's what he said:

ameet

"I don't think Vice and BuzzFeed are legitimate news organizations," Zucker said, reportedly cracking a "mischievous" smile. "They are native advertising shops. We crush both of them. They are not even in our same class."


ameet
The problem with this thinking is that it totally misunderstands the model. At this point BuzzFeed is doing 5 billion views every month of which a tiny fraction take place on their actual web site. If you can get content to reach the right audience regardless of medium, who cares how it is distributed?

anthony
BuzzFeed does have the advantage of not being encumbered with legacy infrastructure. Media Organizations like CNN have to utilize their existing channels because their revenue streams depend on it. CNN needs people to turn on to their cable channel to support all their advertising. BuzzFeed doesn't have that problem, they can follow their viewers to whatever new platform is most popular. They are the best version of a modern advertising agency: data driven and digital native. Oh yeah and they also make some content too.

ameet
People describe BuzzFeed as a "content farm" just churning out random pieces at volume as though it's a bad thing, when in reality having all those data points gives you more opportunities to test and iterate than a legacy company like CNN could ever hope to achieve.

ameet
Until then, I'm just going to enjoy this:

ameet
BuzzFeed
17 Reasons Millennials Are The Absolute Worst
You have to admit, they are.

anthony
There it is. See you next time.

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