Friday, October 23, 2015

“Give The People What They Want, Not What They Need”

The title of this blog speaks to the very issue that many “traditional” news organizations are facing when it comes to providing content to cater to their audience. Some of the oldest media corporations have been stuck in between a rock and a hard place simply because their content and way of presenting news is on the brink of becoming outdated, thanks to the invention of the internet and influx of social media sites.

            Sites such as BuzzFeed have taken the opposite approach than most news stations when it comes to how they believe that can capture their audience through the new innovations of technology and personalized content. Something that we learned in class this week that has helped give BuzzFeed somewhat of an edge over their predecessors is that it is able to generate revenue through what is called native advertising. Native advertising in laymen’s terms is an advertisement that is presented through an article to promote a product. An August 2015 article by BusinessInsider says a large portion of BuzsFeed’s business model uses Facebook and other social media to promote their “native” ads which helps to drive traffic to their site (Weinberger, Aug. 2015). The TechTimes writes that BuzzFeed “charges clients set fees for creating custom content aimed at that client’s customer base” (Gallagher, March 2015).

Most of the native advertising on BuzzFeed consist of silly videos or pictures that center around a good pun to not only make viewers laugh or scoff but to grab their attention making the audience more willing to share it. I mean, who doesn’t like a good laugh every once in a while? For BuzzFeed, these sort of “click-bait” ads are currently what are driving traffic to the site which now hones about 150 million unique visitors per month (Gallagher, March 2015). Not too bad for a site started nearly 10 years ago.

An article on Business Insider in May this year discusses the benefits of native advertisments for media companies. “Native ads have also proven effective, drawing higher click rates than traditional banner ads, particularly on mobile devices” (Hoelzel, May 2015). That same articles provides stats from the BI Intelligence that spending on native ads will be close to $7.9 billion in this year alone and will continue to rise to about $21 billion in 2018 (Hoelzel, May 2015). I think those stats alone show the future of native advertising for media companies and how important it will be for those who haven’t started to start incorporating them onto their platforms.

In my personal opinion I think that is what makes BuzzFeed so relevant as a media organization because it knows how to adapt to their resources (by use of social media and creating their own content) and cater to their audience. Many people today including myself do not have time to search for news day in and day out and out of pure laziness would rather the news come to us. I think it is coming to the point to now we sort of expect the news that we consume to be given to us directly at all times and find it a hassle to have to wait for homepages of news organizations to load and buffer just to be faced with a page full of words. I know that I am more willing to read an article that is shared on social media by my friends. This could be due to the fact that most people who are friends tend to have some of the same interest making it more likely for them to delve more into the article. 

I think it will be interesting to see what new heights sites such as BuzzFeed will reach in the next few years and will the company continue to be innovative enough to stay on top.  

Friday, October 2, 2015

News Media at a Crossroads

The influence that social media has on the world today is something that can be somewhat attributed to the amount of time that we spend on these social media sites. According to an article on titled “28% of Time Spent Online is Social Networking” it says that the “average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms.” (Bennett, 2015). The article goes into the statistics of how that constitutes to 1.72 hours per day on just social media alone, not accounting time spent on the internet which in 2014 was over six hours per day. That means that over one-fourth of our day is being spent by our eyes glued to either our computer screens or our phones. 
(GlobalWebIndex 2012-2014).

            With the surge of social media in the past decade, many big new corporations as well as local are starting to come to a seemingly bitter crossroads with whether to ride the wave of the social media train or continue to find new ways to generate traffic to their websites without selling out. A 2015 article by Matthew Ingram on gigaom titled “Nick Denton says the traffic game is over, and Buzzfeed has won” discusses how Gawker founder, Nick Denton plans to shift Gawker’s focus from the amount of traffic a story to the likes of the views of their news-editor-in-chief Tommy Craggs. (Ingram, Jan. 2015).  Many people know Gawker for their controversial headlines and the traffic from those types of stories has been a large part of the success of Gawker. Buzzfeed, which is an internet news media site prides itself on being able to cater to a broad audience with its colorful user-interface and daily content. While both Gawker and Buzzfeed generate traffic through people visiting their site via online browsers, Buzzfeed is more actively viewed through shared links on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. 

 (Courtesy of, 2012). 
An article by Business Insider editor Alyson Shontell titled “The Story of How Jonah Peretti Built The Web’s Most Beloved New Media Brand” says that Buzzfeed’s founder Jonah Peretti rather prefer readers of the site to “tweet out an article than actually click on it.” (Shontell, 2012). He also says in the article that “People are what spreads the media, and that’s a stronger and better signal than a media company could [build alone].” (Shontell, 2012). I feel that this is a huge part of Buzzfeed’s success because I think of how often I go to a .com site in my browser to read news versus me scrolling on my timeline and clicking on the links in a tweet or on Facebook to keep up with the news. In regards to Gawker deciding to change its attitude of how it views the traffic of a story to a more “newsworthy” approach I think that it may have some effect what content Gawker will produce in the future, but I don’t think that their audience will drop anytime soon due to it being such a huge force news media.