March 23, 2012

The Net's latest killing blows for traditional media

This story by Bloomberg explains both how the BuzzFeed model of both advertising and content works, and some of the fallout from that.

Per the story, it seems that things like Top 10 lists are what's "sticky" for both readers and advertisers. And, that's why more and more sites will only do Top 10s as a slide show, not a single-page view. Not just at something pop-ish like BuzzFeed, but at Fortunate and Foreign Policy, that appears to be the angle.

And, per the story, that's not the only problem. Note the canned corporate-produced content that's used for much of this at BuzzFeed, just like PR factories cranking out "newsoid" snippets for smaller TV news stations. And, how this all increases brand "loyalty."

And, here's what that means for "traditional media":
BuzzFeed cofounder Jonah Peretti argues that the amount of time spent on a site is an increasingly outdated measure of value. “The reason that time on site has been so important is because advertising hasn’t worked very well,” he says. “You need someone to view 100 million pages with your banner ad on it before it has any effect.” By contrast, says Peretti, an effective social publisher doesn’t need much of a user’s time. The branded content is designed to follow the users back into their Facebook news feeds via the same route as Stopera’s photo collections—the Facebook “like” button, primarily. BuzzFeed has a team of six who work with a corporation’s marketing department or ad agency to come up with branded content that works with BuzzFeed’s technology and editorial sensibility. It’s a nascent craft. “We have a very long-term view,” says Peretti. “The shift has happened a little bit faster on the editorial and content side, and now it’s starting to break on the advertising side.”
So, in essence, per smaller newspapers that do "advertorial" special sections, the whole new media world is headed that way. Advertising/editorial content is being sold as "packages."

But, with the increasing production of content in general, soon enough, this will become more fragmented, too.

Friend Leo Lincourt asks on Facebook if the slideshow issue will really transfer that much to online verions of mainstream media.

Perhaps not. But, the "packaging" could well be so. At the least, mainstream media, both in online and traditional forms, may continue to turn to that as a cost-cutter. And, it doesn't even have to... be slide-show style. Just embed more ads, of various sizes and shapes, within single stories. Or, pepper the stories with logos and product images. I can make a 3,000 word story, that takes just, say, two webpages without a "single page" link, read almost like a slide show if I do that enough.

Now, it's true that the war between types of ads, and blocking software, will only increase. That's where the logos come in, perhaps. They're just JPGs, and if they're hosted on BuzzFeed's servers, and not the companies, how do you block a JPG? Or, put a logo with a pull quote, and save it all as a JPG. It works well for the Onion, after all. And, as marketers, advertisers and behavioral economists know, all you need is a little priming!

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