[Ben] Smith’s success allowed BuzzFeed to capitalize on the Twitter traffic generated by the 2012 campaign. It has also created ambient prestige, useful if Peretti and his investors want to raise BuzzFeed’s potential acquisition price. But neither BuzzFeed’s reporters nor its busy workshop of list elves contribute directly to the company’s bottom line. Unlike almost every web publisher, BuzzFeed doesn’t run banner advertising, meaning that a huge preponderance of the site’s growing traffic—16 million visitors a month, according to ComScore, though the company plausibly claims higher internal numbers—doesn’t create any revenue in the traditional way. Instead of selling ads against it, BuzzFeed treats the traffic as its own advertisement: a demonstration of what the company could do for any brand willing to pay to place its own articles on the site.
Peretti rejects the notion that the news operation he has built is, as he has put it, “a hood ornament to lend the site prestige.” It was a business calculation that, somewhat to his surprise, pushed BuzzFeed in the same old-media editorial direction he once chafed at during his time at the Huffington Post. Journalism has clickable appeal on Twitter and brings the kind of readers preferred by premium advertisers. He likes to say that journalism works best on social networks with “scoops and quality reporting,” not aggregation. But the head of BuzzFeed’s data-science department frankly told me that the company has found it to be extremely difficult to make a news item go viral.
In other words, hiring reporters is just a super-expensive way to advertise for investors and get wealthier readers to up the cost of ad buys.
A shift is a dress. It’s also a computer key, and a verb and a noun. And now it’s the newest part of BuzzFeed — mostly intended for women, but if you’re a man, feel free to stay a while. Because the questions we plan to answer over the very many forthcoming posts you will find here are important to everyone.
Such as: How can women bridge the gap between our income and our male counterparts’? How can we attain the power we need to make decisions about our own bodies? How can we be taken seriously as we work toward those things while indulging in a little mindless feminine fun, like shopping, reading Us Weekly, or tweeting about how Nicole Kidman looked like a big Vajazzle at the Golden Globes?
Sharing posts like this one (ahem!) is a good place to start. Through this shared content — and cat videos — in our Facebook and Twitter feeds we come together around cute stuff and big ideas that are not just about dissatisfaction with the status quo, but more important, shifting it in a new direction. One that allows us to be upset without being “crazy,” sexy without being “slutty,” assertive without being “bitchy,” and eventually, equal in the world — which, after all, is a place where women face terrifying challenges to access to reproductive health care and the termination of unwanted pregnancies; where only around 20 women are CEOS of Fortune 500 companies; where the troubling ideal of beauty is super-thin, surgically enhanced, devoid of age, and puzzlingly scantily clad. It’s also a place where Kim Kardashian makes $10,000 by tweeting about some website called ShoeDazzle, and you can spend $75 to have a day’s worth of juice delivered to your home to consume, not as a liquid diet, but a cleanse.
Leading BuzzFeed Shift along with me are Anna North and Hillary Reinsberg. Anna comes to us from Jezebel, where she wrote about science, education, sports, and everyone’s favorite sexist Italian, Silvio Berlusconi. Hillary Reinsberg joins us from Abrams Media, where she chronicled powerful women in business. And I come from New York magazine, where I wrote about fashion and all the silly things people in the industry do — and the most fashionable clothes-wearing cats, of course.
Congrats to @amyodell on the launch of our fashion vertical buzzfeed.com/fashion
When you post about how no one reads your posts because what you post about is boring and thus the boringness of what you post a story. Anyone who doesn’t cry-laugh at this paragraph is more dead inside than someone who took a job at BuzzFeed with the goal of reinventing digital journalism and reinvigorating the long-form piece.
Over the past six weeks, our Washington bureau has consistently advanced the story with news breaks and enterprise reporting — and attracted very few clicks along the way. A scoop about Paul Ryan blaming the deep spending cuts on President Obama even as he might be counting on them to make his new budget work received just shy of 4,000 pageviews. A >story about how government contractors are responding to the potentially devastating cuts barely eked out 2,000 views. And notably, our coverage of the bickering and posturing surrounding the impending cuts has done even worse than the policy stories.
Meanwhile, you know, you could just not cover it ad nauseum like it’s the biggest fucking deal in the whole entire fucking world from which the United States will never recover. Politicians take themselves seriously. It doesn’t mean reporters have to. Even at BuzzFeed.
In traditional Buzzfeed fashion, the story is big shareable SHOCK headline in the front, boring and largely unread context that defuses most of the outrage in the back. (I think this common style of controversy-stoking story packaging is “TRASHY” and “EW.”)
Alex Pareene thinks he’s better than the average BuzzFeed reader just because he likes his headlines to reflect the actual story and not be designed to provoke readers’ outrage and thus their Facebook shares in order to drive even more readers to not-particularly-differentiated sponsored content. He’s obviously, like, 100 years old or something. Welcome to new “journalism,” grandpa.
When I land on a story and then I realize it’s a ‘Sponsored Post’
Makes you wonder whether Buzzfeed it a business model or a torture technique.
Remember when white kids misappropriated ghetto culture (#the90s!) and it was so offensive and gross? Let’s retire the use of “realness” and “shade” and “kiki” now please.
But how will they sell more products for unidentified advertisers if they don’t speak in the vernacular of the (white, straight, cis, well-to-do) Internet denizens they’re attempting to target?
More than one person pointed this out to me. Come on, UpWorthy! I know you can do better.
How are they supposed to monetize their virality generator if they can’t track how something goes viral by watching those who share it? They learned well at Jonah’s feet.
Pre-surgery Megan Fox was a cross between Casey Anthony and your average central Florida stripper. Very good example of “Southern Face,” particularly in the second photo. Who wouldn’t rather have been born Adele, or any of the women mentioned with their talents: http://www.buzzfeed.com/whitneyjefferson/megan-foxs-ever-changing-face-through-the-years
Today is a banner day for Feminism. (via summerofmegadeth)
Feminism can have its day, too, if it shells out to let Buzzfeed create sponsored content.
The native ad, at least as defined here, seeks to become part of content that is itself defined by being separate, apart, independent, attached to nothing, and beholden to no one. That’s the ideal, what everyone is shooting for. The native ad wants forever to be part of —to integrate itself into—something that wants nothing to do with it.
Why pay to produce original content when an advertiser can pay you to run it and make it look just like content you used to pay someone else to produce? Ethics? Surely you jest. That would imply caring about content, rather than the money it generates, and that is not their style.