Businesses looking to generate a little link love likely know that posting videos or blogs related to the latest web searches can help increase traffic to a site. But BuzzFeed, a site dedicated to posting content about trending web obsessions in real time, now plans to make money off of viral content itself by blurring the line between content and advertisements.
The company recently raised $8 million, restructured its management and it is going through some advertising changes as well. Instead of offering sponsors display ads on the viral site, BuzzFeed is offering partners customized ads. BuzzFeed’s president, Jon Steinberg, explains that the site’s media specialists create “story units” for brands that have ad messages and high chances of going viral as they are developed with trending topics in mind.
This strategy stands to bring in significantly higher revenue because the advertising work is done within content that is genuinely of interest to consumers. Steinberg says the sponsored story units the site posts can garner 4 to 5 percent click-through rates.
While BuzzFeed’s custom ads are clever, marketers should be wary of relying on viral, trendy content to boost business as passing fads are quickly dated. Instead, marketers may want to marry content with marketing by frequently updating websites with information that is timely and educational – industry thought leaders never go out of style.
Yahoo News recently took a step in this direction with its news blog The Upshot, which aims to create quality news articles based on top user searches.