BuzzFeed has its eye on video and young storytellers to expand the popularity of the social media- focused news and entertainment enterprise, execs told advertisers today at the company’s annual Newfront presentation.
Although the company is best known for its lists and quizzes, video now accounts for “the majority of our views,” co-founder Jonah Peretti says. For example, a recent live showing of people putting rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded attracted 10 million views, including 800,000 concurrent ones. That’s the closest the company has come to “being comparable to television.”
Most of the presentation encouraged buyers to look for ways to blend their sales pitches into BuzzFeed’s entertainment.
“You’re more than an advertiser,” President Greg Coleman says. “You’re a partner…We are open for business.”
To advertisers who fear that they might be embarrassed by having messages tainted by amateurish or tasteless content, he says BuzzFeed can offer a “pristine, classical, polished view.”
Opportunities include collaborations with NBCUniversal and talent “in front of the camera and behind the camera” CMO Frank Cooper says — although he adds “we’re still in the early days of the partnership.”
Last year Comcast’s entertainment arm invested $200 million in BuzzFeed.
Cooper urged advertisers to look at BuzzFeed as a force as meaningful to today’s pop culture as Motown and Def Jam once were in music. “BuzzFeed gets it,” he says, by offering “human connection at scale ” that “can apply to brands….to tap into that special connection we have with our audience.”
BuzzFeed will work with “select” brands and agencies to “make those brands an authentic part of culture.”
The company contrasted its approach with traditional media attempts to “turn us into on average, the lowest common denominator….We don’t aim to make everyone the same.”
To that end, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures President Ze Frank says he wants to foster “multi-hyphenate” talents and “that connective sanctity of experience.”
He pointed to two personal comedies, Broke and You Do You, as examples of BuzzFeed’s approach. Hosts of a reality series The Try Guys (four men who put themselves into potentially dangerous or humiliating situations) also promoted a spin off, The Try Kids (“proving that kids can do anything”).
The company hawked its food-oriented digital channel, Tasty, which now has 360 million monthly users. “We didn’t intend to be the largest food publisher in the world,” Frank says. “It’s from a little experiment.”
And it’s “made for brands. It’s built for brands.”