BuzzFeed made their pitch at its Digital Content NewFront presentation on Monday, the digital version of television's Upfront presentations. Over the next two weeks, 39 media companies will show off their upcoming slate of content for advertisers and agencies.
Central to the presentation was Peretti's insistence that "industrial ear-out media distribution doesn't allow for feedback from the audience." Instead, unlike traditional media companies, Peretti argued BuzzFeed's digital nature allows it use its audience data to learn from its successes. The media company said it gets 7 billion monthly views on more than 30 platforms in 12 countries.
While BuzzFeed has been a NewFront presenter since 2014, its previous presentations were focused on familiarizing brands with its company. Since last year, NBCUniversal made a $200 million investment in the company. It also added Frank Cooper as chief marketing officer and chief creative officer in June 2015. Cooper was previously the PepsiCo's chief marketing officer of global consumer engagement. At the same time, Financial Times reported Buzzfeed missed 2015 revenue projections by $80 million. It also cut its 2016 projections from $500 million to $250 million. (BuzzFeed disputed the figures but declined to give its own numbers. "We are very pleased with where BuzzFeed is today and where it will be tomorrow," the company said.)
"We're in a moment in time now where media use and entertainment is going to change significantly, and not at the margins but at the center," said Cooper. "I feel like BuzzFeed is well positioned to be at the heart of that. BuzzFeed is not just a production company. It has an operating system behind it, a way of thinking that I think maps well in the social mobile world, but also is starting to have an effect on linear TV."
For example, to say that BuzzFeed was surprised that their watermelon rubber band experiment went viral isn't entirely true. Prior to the Facebook Live video — which had 800,000 concurrent views at its peak and more than 10 million total views on the platform — BuzzFeed had tried another livestream stunt. One of the producers had put live goats in BuzzFeed Motion Pictures' president Ze Frank's office as a prank.
"Concurrent viewers went up and up and up until they went away," Frank said. "We were like, 'Oh my gosh, this is just rarified suspense.' We (started thinking of) what other kinds of things could we do that didn't involve talking, and you could immediately understand what was going on."