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Becoming BuzzFeed

Becoming the Buzzfeed
"The [programmatic] move also benefits our global strategy by allowing us to generate revenue in markets before we've built business teams to implement native monetization."

Why BuzzFeed?

We all know that the recession started in 2006 and most of the premium publishers, including The New York Times, The Guardian were grappling with the sloping economy.

BuzzFeed was launched as a side project, exactly at the same time, by a media veteran and co-founder of The Huffington Post – Jonah PerettiWe believe it’s more than enough for us to see how they managed to become a $2 billion media giant. Besides, it moved against the grain, right from the start. 

Online publishers have been known to define and publish content in a specific structure/format. But BuzzFeed stayed away from all the traditional journalistic methods. It created listicles, viral stories, and covered news and didn’t confine itself to a specific topic. 

Because BuzzFeed opened a platform that focused on sharing most viewed pieces of media across the globe and it knows people share when they like something, regardless of the topic. Many of the top-performing publishers thought the emoticon-website wouldn’t last that long. But the publisher did it anyhow. 

Today, we have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other social platforms equipped with many features. With the help of them, we can share anything with our colleagues, friends, relatives, etc. But roughly a decade ago, these social media platforms didn’t exist or were just evolving. When most of the digital media companies struggled to find a reliable platform to distribute their content, the publisher built a tool to use the audience as the primary distributors. Doesn’t it feel more like a product than a media company? 

“It’s a big part of my routine. It’s a good tool especially to see something I might have missed on Twitter or Facebook, that someone else may have caught.”

–  Andre Borges, Social News Reporter, BuzzFeed.

We don’t want to spill the beans yet. Let’s dive in, you’ll see for yourself.

How it all started?

Originally, Jonah Peretti launched BuzzFeed as an Internet Popularity Contest (Src) on Nov, 2006. The brainchild of Peretti was intended to create a computer program that would share content to the users on a daily basis. According to him, the content for its website should be a mixture of internet memes, listicles, and list of minutiae. The publisher aimed at posting contagious content that people possibly like to share.

BuzzFeed 2006 Traffic and Burn rate

They ran the company with 2 people including Mr. Jonah and burned around $60k per month to build the tool and get the audience of 750k per mo (Src).

Where they are today?

Once BuzzFeed had no editors or other staff members and the website was able to handle just five or six links per day. In fact, half of them were from bots covering trending news of that day (Src). Now, they have more than 18 offices around the world with 1,300+ employees (Src).

A year after the launch of the publishing site, BuzzFeed had 927.5k Monthly Global Uniques (Src), and now they have more than 200M monthly unique visitors with 300M+ YouTube subscribers, and 100+ Facebook pages (Src).

BuzzFeed 2018 Traffic and Valuation

The thing uncommon was, Google or any other search platform wasn’t responsible to bring traffic to the site. Most of the visitors were brought by other visitors who recommended them an article or blog post to check. Aggregating viral content from several sources was the theme for this publisher.

Evolution of BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed Evolution

Image Source: BuzzFeed.

The publisher always published content that has a higher probability to get shared than clicked. Since the genesis of the dot com era, when major publishing companies focused on SEO, keywords, tags, etc., BuzzFeed thought such content would only attract bots to read, and promoted its editors to write content that’s worth sharing.

Becoming BuzzFeed

Bots to Media

2006 – 2008

Instant Messaging Client

In 2006, BuzzFeed was launched with its tools – BuzzBot and Trend Detector. BuzzBot was an instant messaging client that shared the viral links with its signed-up users whereas Trend Detector processed data with the help of various algorithms.

The trend detectors were made to dig down more than 50,000 websites, blogs, and news sources and identify the most viewed links that have a greater chance to get shared among people quickly. As soon as a viral content was found by the detector, it’s passed to a special terminal interface. This interface was used by the editorial team of BuzzFeed to check the content processed by detectors, and further, publish it on the site after a few modifications.

After publishing the content on the site, the BuzzBot sent users a link to the hottest content available on the internet that day (Src). Whoever signed up for BuzzFeed‘s service, get the popular links sent by BuzzBot.

BuzzFeed in 2006:

BuzzFeed Alerts

The home page had links to the most popular videos, news articles, commentary, and other entertaining viral topics. The publisher didn’t look for a logic of the news before publishing content on its site. Shareability mattered more. At its earliest days, the publisher shared random funny content that were absolutely meant for entertainment.

Besides trend detectors and other tools, Google Trend was helping the publisher to know about the most popular search by internet users and their preferences.

Bot + Humans

Peretti knew that the key to a successful business isn’t always about bringing clients, or funds. It’s equally important to keep your employees happy, engaged and productive. Taking a step toward this, the publisher used to organize various in-office competitions and games for its employees.

He divided his small team into two and asked them to write as many articles as possible on a single topic. That’s how the publisher kept his staff engaged and created content in its starting days. Though BuzzFeed had real editors, the publisher allowed them to use pseudo names especially if they write content on an irrelevant topic. As the employees were using different names while posting different content, BuzzFeed staff seemed larger than it actually was.

At the beginning of 2007, the publisher realized that it cannot continue with computer programs alone and started looking for more editors as humans plus bots would yield better results. They had just 6 employees and 2 editors but garnering 2.5 million page views (Src). 

Website Redesign

During the initial days of BuzzFeed, the two editors completely depended on computer algorithms to create editorial content.

In the mid of 2008, the publisher received $3.5M from its first investment partner Hearst Interactive Media Ventures and Softbank (Src). The infusion of $3.5M supported the publisher to redesign its website. This newly designed website, dubbed ‘BuzzFeed 2.0’ had links to viral videos, lists, quizzes, aggregated links, and buzzwords as usual.

Further, BuzzFeed advanced its algorithm to split the content of the website into three sections – Raw Buzz, Detected Phrases, and Movers. Raw Buzz was automatically published content section under which editors were working with the help of trend detectors/algorithms. Detected Phrases were the trending phrases filtered out from various websites whereas Movers displayed a comparison of trending topics in the form of graphs and (+/-) digits.

BuzzFeed Site Design

Self-serve Advertising Platform

As a step towards website monetization, the publisher added a new advertising platform that enables advertisers to use it for their brand awareness campaign. After all, the publisher had to grow its revenue to justify the funds. 

The publisher knew that the majority of visitors don’t prefer to see ads and prefer clutter-free content, thus the publisher offered its advertising partners to promote their brand in the format of the publisher’s own content so that it wouldn’t appear to users as regular ads. This idea was a bit fresh for advertisers who were advertising through banner ads or other traditional formats of ads and thought they could give a try. 

Also, the publisher introduced a widget network section to its website that enabled advertisers to promote their brand through it. Unlike other publishers who usually preferred behavioral targeting, BuzzFeed chose trend targeting as it placed ads next to its hottest content thus highlighting content and ads as well – a win-win situation for both. Of course, the context was taken into the account. 

The reason is pretty simple. Unlike other media companies, BuzzFeed relied on users sharing the content to get reach and revenue. If you’re to annoy them with ads, then forget about the virality.

Second Round of Funding

There were no platforms reaching billions as we see today. BuzzFeed’s impressive reach and native ads wooed both advertisers and investors.

With the help of RRE Ventures, the viral-content company received $8M as its second round of funding in 2009. The publisher announced that the money received from its partners would be used to launch new products that would automatically manage the campaign motives for advertisers and publishers itself. Along with the product, BuzzFeed aimed to hire 10 to 12 employees in the upcoming months (Src).

Content Distribution and Optimization

2010 – 2012

Native Advertising

“Native Advertising is the evolution of Online Advertising.”


At the beginning of 2011, Central Comedy and the publisher partnered to promote former’s TV show Tosh.O on its site. After a few months, the publisher and AOL agreed on a business partnership that made BuzzFeed grant access to its platform to AOL for advertising its content.

As stated before, the publisher never liked the traditional format of advertising. It’s business model relied completely on sponsored content on behalf of its brand advertisers.

Sponsored content not only brought a few extra bucks for the publisher but also enormous traffic to its site. For example, a cat video ad that was published in partnership with Purina attracted more than 11M views (Src).

BuzzFeed also reached various other sites including The Awl, DealBreaker, and Cracked.com to publish sponsored content of its advertisers. These sponsored posts were displayed on the page of publishers in the same manner as their content was getting posted. According to a spokesperson of BuzzFeed, the publisher paid a minimum of $3 (CPM) to other publisher sites for promoting its advertising content on the given site.

BuzzFeed Distribution and reach

Image source: NAYTEV Insights.

The Pinterest Code

Since its origin, BuzzFeed has always been familiar with the tone of digital media, and how to target social platforms. For other publishers, Pinterest was just a platform to view pictures and skip, and hence they overlooked its importance. BuzzFeed, known for its uniqueness, found the social platform as a potential medium to bring traffic to its website and hence to promote its business (Src).

Soon after observing its business-worth, the publisher added Pinterest to its social media distribution plan and used the platform to deliver its content to millions of people.

At present, BuzzFeed has 43k+ pins, 2M+ followers, and more than 10M+ monthly unique visitors to its Pinterest’s BuzzFeed page (Src).

It’s a powerful platform for all kinds of content, not just quote standard Pinterest content.”

-Dao Nguyen, VP, BuzzFeed

Internal Dashboards

The publisher has done thousands of experiments and introduced a variety of tools to reach its audience and build a better platform for its readers.

For instance, Buzzfeed has its in-built dashboards for the editors. These dashboards are accessible to anyone from Buzzfeed and they can use these tools to check how their posts are performing on different platforms. El Dashboard is one of the most simplified dashboards BuzzFeed has. It can compare the performance of content published on two platforms, and hence allow editors to know where the content performed better.

BuzzFeed El Dashboard

Another one is Dashbird, an advanced version of its internal dashboard El. It comes up with a metric known as Social Lift. Social Lift is the ratio of Viral views to Seed views. Viral news consists of page views collected outside of publisher’s promotion campaigns, and Seed views are the page views from publisher’s own promotion campaigns. Dashbird enables the editors to check when and where their contents are getting published on pages. It helps editors to know if their pre-scheduled benchmarks are being met on time.

By 2012, the publisher had completely changed the look of the website. It’s become user-friendly for its visitors as there were new reaction icons LOL, OMG, and WTF options.

BuzzFeed Redesign

Additional Revenue Stream

Being a viral-content site, it’s very important for the publisher to stay updated with the current scenario of the content getting shared on its own site and other websites. As the publisher already had in-built tools to track down how its content gets shared, it thought to utilize the tools to bring money for the publication.

In this direction, BuzzFeed partnered with other big publishers like the Daily Mail, the Huffington Post, New York magazine, Time Inc, etc., and helped them to know from which platform their site is getting more traffic and where their content is getting shared.

Political Coverage

Till 2011, BuzzFeed had no section for political news. All it contained were entertaining posts. But the publisher found a shortcut to grow its online presence during the presidential election of 2012. The publisher knew that the people would be obsessed with election campaigns, hence it launched the first political advertising content to bring the attention of people on the site. The publisher launched a campaign in the name of Obama for America on its site (Src).

Besides this, the publisher’s social media partner, Facebook allowed BuzzFeed to access its network’s proprietary analytics. This revealed US visitors’ reviews about elections, and various politicians’ actions. Many of the rivals of BuzzFeed considered this partnership of the publisher and platform destructive for their growth (Source: Merchants of Truth – The Business of Facts and The Future of News (2019)).

The Face-off

2013 – 2015

Sponsoring Posts

Selling sponsored content from advertisers on its website has been one of the sources of revenue for BuzzFeed. But according to some of the big publishers, users sometimes, don’t like to consume sponsored content. 

To overcome such issues and drive more traffic, the publisher bought traffic from Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and other content-marketing services as well. Whenever a sponsored post by BuzzFeed gets displayed on the news feed of users’ social media platform, the publisher has to pay a price. This way the publisher bought traffic to its site and met commitments done to the agencies.

Targeted Advertising

As a publisher, you might be aware of ad targeting, and how it allows monetizing ad inventories. BuzzFeed introduced a new platform Social Discovery, also known as SoDisco that helped the publisher in building a custom audience.

Social Discovery is a platform that identifies and divides users into different groups and then targets the right audience in real-time based on their response to most recently viewed content.

Shoddy Editorial Practices

As a digital media publisher, the editors of BuzzFeed has acknowledged the content model for the website. But there have been many instances when BuzzFeed faced severe criticism for its shoddy editorial content. The publisher was famous, but sometimes, infamous. 

A year ago, the publisher was pointed out by Gawker.com for plagiarizing content from other sites and in most cases from Reddit.

According to an article published by Gawker in 2012, BuzzFeed’s article “21 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity” was quite similar to that of Nedhardy’s article “7 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity” and “13 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity”.

As per the journalist, BuzzFeed editors assembled the same pictures from Nedhardy’s article and presented them in a slightly different way. Indeed, it attracted millions of page views but the article published by Gawker highlighted the week side of the publisher (Src).

This wasn’t the last time when BuzzFeed received plagiarism comments from its rivals. In the following year, The Atlantic published one more article accusing BuzzFeed of plagiarism (Src). Though the publisher defended itself by saying that it transforms photographs into lists, rivals didn’t find it valid in any way. As a publisher, it’s always better to stay original. 

Plagiarism Breach

In the midst of 2014, the publisher was again surrounded by critics as they found plagiarized content published by BuzzFeed on social media. Out of 500 articles posted by its political editor Benny Johnson, 41 were copied from other social media platforms, or Wikipedia (Src).

Another plagiarism story came in 2016 when Akilah Hughes launched a campaign against BuzzFeed and published an article Petition To Advertisers To Stop Supporting BuzzFeed Video (Src). The Youtuber accused the publisher of stealing her video ideas and content and re-publishing the content on its website without giving credits or compensation.

Though the publisher had millions of visitors, these breaches made the publisher less trustworthy, according to a report published by Pew Research Centre in 2015 (Src). BuzzFeed later gained the audience trust and advertisers by creating original quizzes and interesting content, rather than going after already published content. 

Trust Score - Publishers

Source: Fortune

Third Round of Funding

It was the beginning of 2013 when the publisher received $19M through its third round of funding from New Enterprise Associates, followed by Hearst Media, Lerer Ventures, SoftBank, and RRE Ventures that raised its total money to $46M (Src). When asked,  BuzzFeed said that it would use the money to bring enormous traffic.

BuzzFeed Facebook Reach

Image Source: Src

Advertising Formats

BuzzFeed has a clear vision of what readers would love to see, follow and share and how to write everything in a compelling manner. The publisher hasn’t found this much success without a plan. Content strategy, business model, and different advertising formats have helped the publisher to reach a wide range of audience with its multifarious quizzes, videos, articles, and news.

BuzzFeed Native Ad Content

Advertisement stories were highlighted using different parameters like background color, tags, etc., Some of the ads were having “Featured Partner” at the right bottom side of the post. Such posts made its readers to view the content and ads as well, and hence doing promotion for both the publisher and the advertiser.

By 2013, the publisher had around 400 employees (Src) and reached 85 million people (Src). Most importantly, BuzzFeed grew its revenue by 215% to reap in $64M (Src).

BuzzFeed Traffic and Revenue 2013

BuzzFeed, Off BuzzFeed

Content Partnerships

In March 2014, BuzzFeed made a zero-price partnership with Whisper which gave the Publisher access to its content. Whisper, one of the several messenger apps, allowed its users to chat and share secrets anonymously. A team of 15 BuzzFeed editors filtered out potential content stored in the database of Whisper that could be popular among its visitors. Whisper said it would also help the publisher to provide more information on the subject with the help of its internal search engines. (Src).

Social Storytelling Program

In an effort to match native advertising standards with its own stories, the publisher started a new program SSCP (Social Storytelling Creator Programs) for its agencies. This program was meant to make them aware of the BuzzFeed post formats, train them to produce content as the publisher’s own content, and how to advertise at its best.

Besides this, the program gave agencies access to the publisher’s new features, creative products, and many other benefits (Src). Also, accredited agencies were allowed to directly post their stories to the publisher’s site after getting approval from the editors. Though the publisher didn’t charge agencies directly, it has a minimum price for this program.

BuzzFeed Podcasts

In March 2015, BuzzFeed launched first audio content (podcasts) –  Another Round and Internet Explorer, to make content more accessible for its users. While Another Round focused on topics like gender, race, drinking, and pop culture; Internet Explorer worked on topics like grosser sides of online culture (Src).

As a tool to increase traffic on the website, BuzzFeed podcasts played an important role. By the end of 2016, around 9M visitors downloaded various podcasts available on the site (Src).

HIVE Software

HIVE is one of the gadgets BuzzFeed has built. This software allowed anyone from BuzzFeed to pull insights from the company’s archives and determine what type of content worked best for its visitors and on which platform it’s content yields better results.

Expansion Plan

To improve the structure of its business model and expand its audience reach to countries like Japan, India, Mexico, and Germany, BuzzFeed collected $50M from Andreessen Horowitz, a California-based venture capital firm. This round of funding raised its funds to $96.3M in six years. (Src). At this stage, the number of employees was over 500 and the publisher was reaching 150M+ people through its content. It made $46M in the first half of 2018 (Src). 

BuzzFeed Distributed

Following the investment from the Venture Capital, the publisher announced to launch its new distributed division and named it “BuzzFeed, off BuzzFeed”. The distributed model had a team of twenty people who wrote original content for platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Tumbler, Vine, etc. The team was asked to create content exclusively for the platforms, and those content wouldn’t be published on BuzzFeed (Src).

Top 10 Websites in the US (2014 Comcast Stats):

Top 10 US Publishers

Dark Social

In today’s world of instant messaging apps/social media messengers, dark social (one-to-one data sharing) is becoming an irksome thing for all publishers for the reason that it makes it difficult to measure traffic accurately. Even, BuzzFeed has faced the consequences of dark social as its web articles massively go viral on social media platforms.

So, to reduce the implications of dark social, the publisher launched its new tool Pound (Process For Optimizing And Understanding Network Diffusion) which can track the movement of content across the web. Pound processed more than 10,000  web requests per second and hence gave an opportunity to understand network diffusion (Src).

Although it didn’t save username or PII (Personally Identifiable Information), it collected information based on URLs. The data stored by Pound helped the publisher to know where the content is getting shared frequently.

Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook and BuzzFeed have been in partnership since their evolution and always have a clear understanding of how to use each other’s platform in a better way for their business model. In the year 2015, Facebook enabled BuzzFeed to publish stories directly to its platform and called it the Instant Articles Program. Also, the social media giant offered reduced bounce rates for stories that are viewable within the Facebook application. It gave complete freedom to post as much content as they want, and promote them in any way.

Further, Facebook made a deal that if it sells ads around the content of publisher (through Facebook Audience Network), it would give 70% of the revenue generated to the digital publisher or if the publisher sells ads, then 100% of the revenue would be publisher’s (Src).

For BuzzFeed, which relies on people sharing its content across social media, trying out instant articles made sense. In fact, everyone thought of it’s a lucrative offer to earn revenue and increase reach on Facebook. But just after a year, publishers began to drop out of Facebook IA as it turned out to be ineffective.

“There’s just no reason for publishers to continue to lose money on IA this far after launch.”

– Dan Check, Vice Chairman, Slate.

– Lesser Revenue

Publishers realized that they can make better revenue when visitors read the content on their site, rather than as the instant article on Facebook.

– Lack of Control

Facebook decided the ad density and implementation, not publishers.

– Most importantly, no data

Publishers didn’t have the complete data to see the actual lift and make informed decisions. Facebook released aggregated/generic data. Here’s one example – Link clicks can increase from 20 to 50 percent when publishers use instant articles. But that’s not going to help a publisher in any significant way.

Content Management System

Unlike other digital publishers who relied on products offered by other sources, BuzzFeed had always worked with its own technologies. BuzzFeed’s CMS has in-built tools – SuperPoster, and Mission Control. SuperPoster was created to edit and publish content whereas Mission Control was meant to curate and promote pages on the right platform.

In addition to these, CMS included A/B testing as it helped the publisher in content optimization and improving the reader experience. A/B testing enabled the editors and designers to evaluate design changes and site features. The results obtained after this were sent to its writers via Slack so that they can check which part of the content didn’t work as expected.

Finally, Into the Programmatic

2016 – 2018

Series G Funding

In 2016, the publisher received $200M from its new investment partner Comcast/NBC Universal (Src). The investment enabled the publisher and the partner company to sell respective content on each other’s platforms. This wasn’t the first and last time NBC Universal invested in the company. Later, in 2018, it again came in partnership with the publisher raising the total investment amount to $400M (Src).

During the Rio Olympics NBC selected a team of 12 people from BuzzFeed and asked them to create at least 20 contents per day. The video content produced by the editorial team were posted on different social media platform of BuzzFeed. In exchange, NBC Universal aired BuzzFeed’s video content to its various channels.

But BuzzFeed like other media companies had to face certain ups and downs. Even after receiving this much amount from NBC Universal, BuzzFeed had missed its revenue goal two years consecutively and attracted its lowest number, 72M unique visitors in the US (Src).

Stories and videos published per day

Graph Source – Src

e-Commerce Strategy

The entertainment giant, BuzzFeed introduced its own shop “BuzzFeed Shop” for its visitors in 2016. It was another step of the publisher taken towards to collect revenue for the company’s operation and make it a fast-growing business. Ahead of that, the publisher had opened a BuzzFeed Swag Shop for its employees and according to the publisher’s sources, it was a big success (Src).

Publisher’s Division

In 2016, BuzzFeed Inc announced its division into two groups – entertainment (buzzfeed.com) and news (buzzfeednews.com). The BuzzFeed Entertainment Group started taking care of entertainment content like quizzes, lists, videos, etc. whereas BuzzFeed News focused on providing sensible news to its consumers.

Brand Awareness Campaign

As an awareness campaign, BuzzFeed started an hour-long morning news show, AM to DM, on Twitter. The show which was launched in the month of September 2017 attracted more than 1M unique daily visitors, and the clips presented in the show were seen by more than 10M visitors in its first week (Src). The show was very much similar to that of BuzzFeed and highlighted the biggest news stories, trending tweets, and expert advice.

By the end of 2018, the show which was started with just 2 members, had more than 500 guests and already collected 101M impressions on Twitter i.e. 3M impressions each week according to the publisher (Src).

Month/Year Number of Videos Uploaded Number of Posts Uploaded
April 2012 10 914
April 2015 205 5,271
April 2016 319 6,365


Programmatic Advertising

Native advertising has been growing up for years and BuzzFeed has also relied on that since its genesis. But avoiding traditional advertising formats and programmatic approaches for long is hard. BuzzFeed has done this in previous years but has recently stepped into the programmatic platform due to increased demands for programmatic ads and better user experience for its readers.

Tactically, programmatic has improved in terms of loading times, mobile experience and ad quality, and opens up another way for us to monetize our huge audience. The move also benefits our global strategy by allowing us to generate revenue in markets before we’ve built business teams to implement native monetization.

– Jonah Peretti, Founder, BuzzFeed.

In comparison to the certain missed targets of previous years, programmatic ads of BuzzFeed helped the publisher to raise its number of monthly impressions from 1B monthly to 3B (Src).

“1.39s Load Time”


Data Management Platform

For publishers, analyzing data patterns in real-time is quite important as it helps them to target their audience at the right place and time, and thus maximize the ad impressions. Meanwhile, other publishers were opting for data science teams, BuzzFeed started working with Looker, a data management platform that gave its employees permission to gather and analyze data. Looker collected data from different platforms and stored them in its database.

Recently, the publisher has replaced its cookie-dependent DMP and switched to Permutive which doesn’t store data in cookies. According to a spokesperson from BuzzFeed’s programmatic team, the former DMP was quite slow and wasn’t able to track user behavior over a longer range of time. Also, the rate of data degradation was too high and quick which was making difficult to store and compare historical data.

Now, the publisher can track readers’ behavior for a long time, and then do segmentation of user groups based on certain points. Also, Permutive consists of an additional feature – cross-device tracking capability which helped the publisher in frequency capping.

Community Management

Getting a DMP helped the publisher in many ways. Since BuzzFeed got a new tool to look after the data part, the publisher made its the editors focus on other things like community management. BuzzFeed used Slack and Slack Bots to notify its editors working from other parts of the world about the trending news going viral on the internet.

Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange (now, Google Ad Manager)

After deciding to run banner ads on its website, the publisher announced that it would display ads with the help of third-party ad technologies. The advertisers were allowed to run ads through the Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange and Facebook Audience Network (Src). However, many major ad exchanges are now delivering ads to BuzzFeed.com as the publisher implemented header bidding

With the help of DoubleClick and its Ads Distribution team, the publisher allowed ads that suited the quality of the website. If it didn’t match with their standards, then the ad slots were collapsed.

BuzzFeed Programmatic


BuzzFeed Ad Slot Collapse

Image Source: BuzzFeed

Also, the Ad Group and Ad Distribution team of BuzzFeed have implemented Private Marketplaces (PMP) to offer high-quality and consistent advertising experiments to its agencies.

A year later, the publisher introduced first native programmatic ad tools for its advertisers. The newly launched tools allowed advertisers to purchase branded quizzes, and re-use print content and TV content available on BuzzFeed (Src).

Affiliate Marketing

The publisher entered into a partnership with Shopify to compensate missed revenue targets from the previous years. Under this partnership, Shopify added a new channel to its site “BuzzFeed Channel” which enabled advertisers across the globe to tag their products for the editors of BuzzFeed.

As soon as the editors found a suitable ad or product trending on the Shopify’s BuzzFeed channel, they would display the ad with the content on the website (Src). Further, it built software that helped the editors to know if the ad content was a success and gave a rough idea of revenue generated by the ad.

BuzzFeed had no minimum commission criteria strictly but expected 10% to 25% per sale from the Shopify merchants. In the same year, the publisher came in affiliate agreement with Skimlinks, a content-monetization, and contextual advertising platform.

BuzzFeed Exchange

To meet its client expectations and increase the revenue rate, the publisher launched its new programmatic platform, BuzzFeed Exchange – an expansion of its programmatic products. BuzzFeed offered a unified platform for its advertisers that gave them access to BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed apps, Nifty, and other BuzzFeed properties in one place.

Commerce Revenue

By the end of 2018, BuzzFeed was reached by The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company in the hope to advertise and sell its products on the publisher’s site. To assist Scott’s Group, the publisher made a group of 60 people and since its start, this team has generated more than $50M by combining commerce and advertising (Src).


There is no doubt that the publisher understands the Internet better than anyone else, and attracts millions of visitors every day with its cheesy content titles and clever wording.

Taking its digital media to print media, the viral media giant released its first print newspaper exclusively in New York a month ago. While the majority of media companies going online from their print edition, it ain’t less than a stunt for BuzzFeed as it has taken a step towards the reverse direction. Though the publisher said that this would be the first and last edition of its print magazine, we can expect a lot more new experiments by the publisher. It even launched paid membership plans for its news site, aiming to cover news content extensively, rather than skimming the surface. With its reach and original reach, BuzzFeed believes it can lure in subscribers. 

We know native advertising and programmatic have become a part of the publisher (and that’s proven to help other publishers like you too), let’s see how eCommerce and subscription turn out.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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