Pitching Hard BuzzFeed in Cannes

     “There is a persistent theme today about ads being content, and branded content being indistinguishable from the organic content,” Steinberg said. “And we’re actually really doing that. I mean, all the ads on BuzzFeed run in the stream . . . we only take advertising that really is genuine content. So, I think we’re seeing a lot of people here that want to get to where we’re already at because when we started a year ago, a lot of the brands didn’t have content. Now they’ve all sort of come around to it. So I feel like we’re sort of ahead of the game. And it's nice to hear, especially from the big holding companies, that this is what they want to push heavily into in the next year.”

    The kernel one can extract from that while drowning in the repetition of “content” is that being early to the game doesn’t necessarily put you ahead of it. BuzzFeed could do well, or not. At the moment, it gets roughly 50 million-60 million monthly pageviews, according to Quantcast, and Peretti said they want to expand to 50 staffers this year. But as Steinberg noted, “content” is a persistent theme today. Whether it was first or not, there’s no longer a clear explanation of BuzzFeed’s current advantage to advertisers. So I asked.

    Peretti: “Part of the advantage of being ahead of the market is that we were building technology that whole time. So, we have real stats that let us see how for every single piece of content that we post on BuzzFeed—whether it's our own content or an advertiser’s content—we have a dashboard that shows all the stats for that individual piece of content, and then we can roll that up into all the stats for an entire campaign, or for all of BuzzFeed, or for a publisher. And the real-time stats show us where the content is spreading, where it's sharing, how it's getting distributed. In addition to that, we have a full-time, applied mathematician who is doing regression models on why content spreads and how it spreads. So he’s looking at all the different factors that are predictive of something getting shared and spreading, and pretty early on we can make that judgment call that this has the potential to take off, and when we see that we can promote it more. So that combined with our sort of background making viral things, and all the early stuff that I used to work on—we really have an artistic or creative sense of what stuff will work. And we have all this technology and infrastructure that helps identify and optimize all this stuff that we’re posting."

     While Steinberg talked, Peretti ate; while Peretti talked, Steinberg ate or looked at his phone. They had another appointment at 5 p.m. with Jonah Goodhart, co-founder and co-CEO of Moat, an advertising search engine, which Steinberg dutifully left for before Peretti had finished his salad.

Topics: social

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