The way we get our news isn’t what it used to be. With print ad revenues dropping as low as they were in the 1950s, established media companies have had to rethink their business models and the ways they deliver news.
And new companies are emerging that are more tailored to cultural evolutions.
And while many other media companies were desperately trying to draw more traffic to their websites, BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti had another idea.
After observing that BuzzFeed’s audience was spending most of their time on social networks, he made a huge shift in the company’s strategy. Instead of publishing an article on its website and then sharing it on various social sites, BuzzFeed decided to customize its content for specific audiences and publish it directly on 30 social platforms.
And the result has been remarkable. According to its website, BuzzFeed generates 7 billion monthly global content views. Even though it publishes the majority of its content somewhere else, BuzzFeed.com still gets about 200 million unique monthly visitors.
By saying YES to trying a completely new model for delivering news, BuzzFeed effectively changed the entire media industry.
“This move also creates new revenue opportunities as services like Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat seek to prove they can funnel money to partners who publish directly to their platforms,” according to a FastCompany article.
The company is also saying yes to new, more effective—and less annoying—ways of advertising. In an article for The Atlantic, Peretti says, “… there was never any question about whether to do banners and display ads. That was just what you did. I never totally understood why. It never felt like the best way of doing it.”
So, BuzzFeed started an in-house production studio and works directly with advertisers to create “custom content worth sharing.”
Even though other institutions have viewed its advertising model to be somewhat controversial—tinkering too much with the “church and state” divisions of advertising and editorial—many are starting to adopt similar models.
And they aren’t stopping there. The recent news of the company’s split into two departments, BuzzFeed News and BuzzFeed Entertainment Group (BFEG), demonstrates that saying YES to something revolutionary isn’t the end—it’s the beginning—the first of many yeses.
In the new structure, “video won’t be the job of just one department,” Peretti wrote in a memo to staff. “Having a single ‘video department’ in 2016 makes about as much sense as having a ‘mobile department.’ Instead, it will be something we expand and embed across the organization.
We have an opportunity to be the leading entertainment company for the mobile, social age. … This structure will … complete our shift to becoming a cross-platform media company, with entertainment and news both living on our site, our apps, and distributed on platforms across the web in multiple native formats.
Peretti’s BuzzFeed journey is a great example of how some business situations may at first seem to warrant a lot of no’s but are actually golden opportunities to say YES to a whole new path and outlook.