An accurate prediction for the site and the media landscape
Back in 2008, BuzzFeed was a two-person editorial operation with 750,000 monthly visitors, but it already knew exactly where it was headed.
It was, at the time, just a sliver of what the media empire would become (it now boasts more than 200 million uniques and almost a billion video views a month). Still, site founder Jonah Peretti was confident in his business model and wanted to sell investors on his vision.
Looking back through the presentation (resurrected this week via a tweet from former New York Times digital exec Martin Nisenholtz and picked up by Quartz), you won’t find too many surprises—and that’s probably what’s most impressive. The deck shows BuzzFeed largely maintained its trajectory, building a sprawling juggernaut atop its early vision of “advertising as content” and “trend targeting.”
Most fascinating is the Venn diagram above, in which BuzzFeed attempted to visualize its role as the cross-section between digital advertising and popular content. The site vowed to be the best of both worlds, tapping the real-time zeitgeist similar to early competitors like Digg, but doing so in a way that created content worth selling ads against (or into).
Sure enough, looking at that list of competitors is a keen reminder of just how dominant BuzzFeed has become. Mahalo has drifted off the cultural radar, while Squidoo was absorbed into HubPages. Reddit, of course, has been no slouch, but the real surprise in this chart is the unquestionable success of the hybrid content-marketing model BuzzFeed is laying out, a model that’s almost become a cliche of modern media amid the explosion of native advertising.
Of course, this hybrid model has created headaches for BuzzFeed along the way, most recently with the debate around the removal of articles that criticized ad partners. Check out more of the slides below, or view the full presentation on Scribd.