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BuzzFeed’s content monetization strategy revealed

About BuzzFeed
BuzzFeed is a leading independent digital media company delivering news and entertainment to over 500 million people each month. Headquartered in New York, BuzzFeed has offices in London, Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Sydney, Mumbai, Tokyo, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Toronto.

Before 2016, our approach to commerce content was very passive and we were writing it because people liked it, it did well from a traffic perspective, and that was all we measured it by. From the start of last year however, we began to dedicate more and more people to the team, and their goals were making commerce content work for our readers and from a revenue perspective too.

_Jessica Probus, Director of Market & Nifty @BuzzFeed

Key achievements

  • 10 – 50 Dedicated commerce posts published weekly from commerce editors and writers
  • 75% Affiliate revenue growth y-o-y in H2 2016
  • 10+ Dedicated team members working in internal startup on commercial content

Three keys to Buzzfeed’s success

  • Distinct KPIs for commerce editors
    Initially BuzzFeed measured commerce content against the same metrics used across all of its entertainment content: How much traffic the posts were driving, and more importantly, how many shares they were generating. Now the KPIs for the content, and the editors, are becoming more distinct, with new metrics like click through rate and revenue per click now a core focus of the team. These help better benchmark the success of commerce content and refine their approach to test, learn and iterate from BuzzFeed’s audience over time.
  • Making every click valuable
    Commerce content can be valuable for readers as well as BuzzFeed. Instead of being driven purely by revenue, protecting the audience’s trust in BuzzFeed is also a key priority. Although safeguarding this may not mean greater revenue upfront, in the long term the audience will be more engaged with the content, and ultimately more valuable for BuzzFeed in the future.
  • Meeting customers where they are
    A key part of BuzzFeed’s content creation and distribution strategy is meeting customers where they are. Editorially, that often means meeting them in the right place (platform!), at the right time, with the right content. For commerce content, it also means understanding and accommodating readers’ budgets based on BuzzFeed’s audience and tailoring shoppable storytelling accordingly.

Skimlinks was the first platform that provided us with data, and data tools that are super simple to use and
access. The dashboard was really easy to use and gave digestible insights, like what posts people like or which
merchants are most popular, which our editors can use and translate into earnings for us.

_Jessica Probus, Director of Market & Nifty @BuzzFeed

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