Since its launch in 2006, Buzzfeed has always been one of the most innovative digital publishers, and it has been rewarded accordingly with enormous economic success. Founded by former Huffpo co-founder Jonah Peretti, whose expertise is in making content go viral, Buzzfeed’s technological edge came from learning what content was likely to be shared among readers and optimizing the Buzzfeed site using that knowledge. Speaking at SXSW Interactive last year, Peretti explained that his product was created for the “bored in line and bored at work” segment of the population, who would share content they found interesting with their friends, upping the platforms visitor counts.
But even in the short space -for a couple of years, things have changed in digital publishing, and last year Buzzfeed began publishing some of its content directly to social platforms like Facebook.The rationale? Meet the audience where it already goes, rather than force it to go to the Buzzfeed site.
While that might be a good strategy for Buzzfeed’s content, what are the ramifications for its advertisers?
Well, it appears that the advertisers can now follow Buzzfeed across its social platforms.
During a keynote at South by Southwest Interactive, BuzzFeed’s marketing chief Frank Cooper unveiled a beta test of an ad format dubbed Swarm. It allows advertisers to run campaigns simultaneously across all of his company’s Web and mobile properties and six of its social platforms: Snapchat Discover, Vine, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr.
While this appears to be a big win for Buzzfeed advertisers, it doesn’t come without problems for brands who are trying to figure out what they’re spending money on and whether they’re’ getting a big enough ROI. Since many social platforms don’t track what people are talking about the way Buzzfeed does, it will be tough for brands to measure what this social reach is worth and decide what to pay for it.
Another problem? All these social platforms have different audiences, and running the same ad formats or ad copy across the board may simply not work, and adapting the ads could prove costly to brands who are already running their own cross-channel campaigns.
Like many innovations, this one may take a while to prove its utility.