How Publishers Can Adapt Like BuzzFeed

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BuzzFeed has been in the news quite a bit lately (actually, it’s been in the news quite a bit, period). What was once the “bored-at-work network,” has evolved into a remarkably adaptive and successful publisher. It is easy to dismiss BuzzFeed as just another purveyor of miscellaneous link bait but a recent and in-depth article on Fast Company titled “How BuzzFeed’s Jonah Peretti Is Building A 100-Year Media Company” makes for very interesting reading.

What stands out for me about BuzzFeed is how adaptable it is to changing environments and how well it exploits each new avenue:

The company’s success is rooted in a dynamic, learning-driven culture; BuzzFeed is a continuous feedback loop where all of its articles and videos are the input for its sophisticated data operation, which then informs how BuzzFeed creates and distributes the advertising it produces. In a diagram showing how the system works, Peretti synthesized it down to “data, learning, dollars.”

BuzzFeed has built a tremendously successful video business along the way. As a percentage of revenue, video accounted for about 15% in the fourth quarter of 2014. That increased to 35% a year later. The bigger picture is more telling. 75% of Buzzfeed’s unique visitors come from social media and not from That represents a pretty big shift from the typical publishing model which is based on a core website and driving traffic to that main site to maximize pageviews and ad revenue.

The key to a successful distributed model like BuzzFeed’s is to have really good analytics on each platform you publish to so you can accurately measure that traffic and your content’s engagement with readers.

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