Buzzfeed’s Clever Approach to Advertising

If you’re like me, and I am finding as I get older that I have a lot more in common with everyone else than I realized, then you also love spending time reading nonsense articles including “23 French Fries You Need To Eat Before You Die” or just a vine of a dog playing a cowbell to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (LOL btw). Buzzfeed is an internet news company founded in New York City back in 2006 which specializes in these types of articles. Many of them go viral and are posted and re-posted on my social media news feeds. Truth be told, I prefer reading these articles more than I care about what my friends are eating (and posting) for lunch.

There has been an interesting shift in how people use the internet since web 2.0 changed how we can interact with the world wide web. In the early 2000s, Web 2.0 allowed people to update their own information and contribute to a website from their own personal computer. Social media took off in the mid 2000s and Facebook became the biggest thing since sliced bread. Now in 2015, Facebook is reaching the final phase of the product cycle, decline, as significantly lower traffic has been reported in the past few years.

What drew people to Facebook was a certain mix of ego and curiosity. People signed up to aimlessly post personal pictures of their lives as well as follow the happenings of their friends. Advertising on Facebook and other social media channels became a powerful communication method given the social network’s size and demographic targeting. What we saw here was a shift from advertising on TV and magazines, where impressions were driven by programmed content, to advertising on social media, where impressions were driven by content submitted by peers. Again we are seeing another shift where impressions are driven by strategic journalism and satire.

Buzzfeed doesn’t sell the typical advertising space. Let’s agree that we all find typical online advertising quite annoying. Instead they do it by writing a clever article about the product or company. All of their articles are short and sweet, making it easy to digest and fun to read. They have found a way to integrate advertising into smart content that is easily camouflaged amongst other mindless articles like “17 Motivational Posters for Sarcastic Parents” but while you’re there, why not check out the strategically placed “All The Great Mad Men Era Volkswagon Ads”?

Some of their big clients include the heavy-hitters like Volkswagon, Nike, and Pepsi, but it shows that forms of online advertising and media business models are quickly changing. It works with the content that the viewer likes to see, and staying on top of this trend will allow you to stay at the front and center of your consumer’s attention – you just have to be crafty about how you deliver the content. Strategic marketing in 2015 integrates products into the interests of their target market.

In the case of Buzzfeed, their audience is broad, so working with companies that appeal to a wide range of consumers and have a well-established brand identity will benefit the most from the exposure on this kind of site. But what does that mean for the small business? Find a local magazine or blogger that is related to your industry, and work with them to create an advertorial or a blog article featuring your company in a way that readers with invested interests can relate to the information and stand to benefit from it. Creating content around your product or service offering is a good way to develop rapport with future customers.

Now, here’s what you were waiting for during this whole blog post – the vine of a dog playing a cowbell.


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