When he founded BuzzFeed in 2006, serial entrepreneur Jonah Peretti—who’d previously cofounded the Huffington Post—thought of it as a new-media mad-science lab. Social sharing was the next big distribution channel, he reasoned, and BuzzFeed was a place to create silly shareable content. The site is still brimming with listicles and cat videos, but over the past year, BuzzFeed has undergone a remarkable transformation: It’s now also a serious news site, blending in a high-powered team of journalists covering politics, gender issues, technology, music, food, and pop culture.
Peretti sat down to discuss BuzzFeed’s breakout year.
FC: You don’t run traditional banner ads. Instead you run “sponsored content”—posts that feel like BuzzFeed content but that are paid for by a brand. Why?
JP: I wanted our ads to have the same advantages as our content—something that people wanted to click on and share. We think of it as the evolution of advertorial. It’s a return to Mad Men-era advertising, where media buying and creative were the same business, and where you thought about advertising as telling a story. On the web, that changed; banner ads became the dominant force. There wasn’t the sense of craft in it.
Check out the full story here.