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The Buzzfeed impact: How social is redefining online advertising strategy

buzzI’ll admit to trying my share of Buzzfeed quizzes. I don’t want to take them, but then suddenly, I find someone sharing the city that they should live in or the type of Star Wars character that they most represent, and I’m hooked. As I finish the quiz, I think to myself, “Surely, this is the last time that you’ll be spending a few minutes on this sort of activity.” One week later though, I’m right back at it.

While Buzzfeed quizzes may seem silly, the company was recently a subject of a new case study in the Harvard Business School. Many eyes are on Buzzfeed, and not for the quizzes themselves, but how they are performing and influencing online spending budgets. It turns out that Buzzfeed’s average advertising rates are $9 per thousand views, which amounts to nearly double of other publishers’ rates. Why?

Social plays a significant role in commanding steeper ad rates. Behind the scenes at Buzzfeed, they can quickly determine which content elements (for example a quiz on what kind of dog breed you would be) have a viral impact and are shared on online and social channels. Those quizzes that float to the top can be immediately promoted and drive traffic to the site.

This changes the way we think about online advertising. Marketers have been optimizing campaigns for years, but now exposure to your sponsored post is something that can have an enormous pass along effect. Unlike banners which are easy to ignore, these quizzes are addictive are they are coming from someone you know and likely trust, which makes it much easier to pull you in.

Disney understands the organic value of this model and offered to buy Buzzfeed for $500 million. Fortunately for now and all of us, Buzzfeed rejected the offer and will continue to amuse us with their highly pop culture and quiz oriented content. Keep your eyes on this site and brand. It is another key sign of smart social changing business strategy.

For more from Ken Giffin, click here >>

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