BuzzFeed and Advertising

This past week we delved into the advertising world. I particularly enjoyed this past week’s readings and asynchronous homework which is a good sign that specializing in advertising might be the way to go! I still have some time to decide, but until then I’ve been working on my case study for class.

My case study is about how BuzzFeed uses social content to drive their native ad approach. It took me several days to figure out what I wanted to research and write about. I chose BuzzFeed because it has grown into one of the most successful digital publishers. Huge brands and companies are now turning to BuzzFeed in an effort to try to emulate the brand’s methods and approaches to both content production and advertising.

With the help of Dr. Strahler, I was able to narrow down my case study and I’m in the midst of writing the analytical portion of my final paper. So far, I’ve nabbed an interview with BuzzFeed Creative Director Melissa Rosenthal. If you do a little research, you’ll find she’s young in age, but extremely bright.

Forbes featured her in their 2014 30 Under 30 list and Buzzfeed staff say Melissa is not only extremely capable but also a pioneer in launching BuzzFeed’s current advertising approach and content production methods. Melissa works with a large 40+ member team to produce campaigns for clients around the world — one of their first was General Electric.

These campaigns turn into native ads where BuzzFeed features articles that have the same exact look and feel as the BuzzFeed brand with a small note at the top that says “Sponsored Ad” or “Sponsored by…” to inform readers that what they are reading is, in fact, a native ad. But it’s a native ad that is so well integrated onto the BuzzFeed page, that no one would even realize it’s an ad. When I heard this approach, I thought: That’s the way to advertise.

No one wants to (or enjoys) visiting a website only to be interrupted by a huge banner ad or a pop-up that says “Continue in 12 seconds.” Melissa refers to that type of advertising as “disruptive,” and I couldn’t agree more.

These are just some of the highlights from my discussion with BuzzFeed’s creative director and I’m so excited to share the rest of my interview in my case study.


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