Producing For an International Audience

Kelly Kitagawa - BuzzFeed: International Audiences for Ads
Jake Macfarlane's picture Jake Macfarlane 2 years 5 months ago
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The fact that your friends and relatives across the world likely know all the same viral videos

as you is no longer a novelty. Many of us are very accustomed to the idea that the internet is

global, though sometimes we take that concept for granted. BuzzFeed is a brand that most

are familiar with, globally. So what brings BuzzFeed clicks with a more connected generation

and why?

 

To break this down, one needs to know that the crux of understanding BuzzFeed comes

from its identity crisis of having a creative focus versus having a business focus. As a

content producer the company focuses on having enough money to create original

programming, but as a content distributor, the company has to focus on making enough

content to make money. This is the difference between financing to make stuff or making

stuff in order to finance. And these are two very different goals which frequently come into

conflict.

Audience or Target Demographic?

People watch, read, listen and interact with BuzzFeed content all across the world whether

here in Canada, in India or Denmark. In that regard, BuzzFeed must act as a content

producer to know which cultures interact and how, in order to create content that resonates

with global audiences. To pull from the past, when Broadcast Television was becoming

increasingly global in the late 2010s, Dr. Chalaby of City University, London (UK), described

interacting cultures as becoming "[...] increasingly like dialects of a universal language"

(Chalaby, 2009) which, I believe, similarly applies to global audiences on the web.

Conversations about social practices around the world are exchanged every day, whether

it's understanding the nuances of sexuality or how to pronounce the word ".gif". In that way,

BuzzFeed must adjust their strategy as to appeal to Audience.

 

However, as many social and sharing platforms dictate their algorithms give preference to

accounts that post regularly and frequently (largely Facebook and YouTube), BuzzFeed must

be constantly pushing out content. And in order to sustainably do that, BuzzFeed needs

funds, and advertisers--and a lot at that. So where does this interaction of culture stop

becoming the audience and start becoming buyers? BuzzFeed has approximately 83 million

visitors per month (Newstex, 2016) providing enough value to raise 400 million in the last 2

years simply from investments from ComCast (Newstex, 2016). In this way, Buzzfeed must

adjust their strategy to appeal to Advertisers.

Content or Ad Platform?

Having broken down who the content is being made for, let's break down the actual content

that BuzzFeed produces. BuzzFeed is notorious for using concepts like "native advertising",

a term that means ads that don't really feel like ads, meaning they're producing some

content and some advertising. Not only this, but Hughes, renowned Producer and Writer,

accuses BuzzFeed of "repeatedly stealing ideas, jokes, bits, gags, and therefore money from

prominent YouTube creators." (Hughes, 2016). These claims are made with significant

evidence, though there is little policy which even gives rights to online content. This begs to

question whether BuzzFeed has the intention of making content or simply making

advertisements appear as they are valuable content.

What's Next?

BuzzFeed is primarily a business and it creates content as a business. This needs to be

understood in order to grasp the large span of influence it has as a platform and as a

company. As an international content producer and distributor, the company makes broad

stroke observational content in order to account for all cultures, as well as niche, but shared

experiences in order to have widespread appeal. It will be up to consumers to decide

whether this is the content they'd like to see in the future, as currently, it is pulling enough

viewership to remain a big player in the industry. It will also be important for international law

makers to adjust policy to account for the rights of online creators as much as it does for

traditional media professionals.

 

Work Cited:

Benzinga: NBCUniversal close to investing $200 million in BuzzFeed (2016). Chatham:

Newstex. Retrieved from

<http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docvi...

ntid=13631>

Chalaby, J. K. (2009). Broadcasting in a post-national environment: the rise of transnational TV

groups. Critical Studies in Television, 4(1), 39+. Retrieved from

<http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=rpu...

=r&id=GALE%7CA425112550&asid=b1008841dd3b0db9dc1eaf644ccff242>

Hughes, Akilah (2016). Dear advertisers: It's time to stop supporting BuzzFeed Video. Medium.

Retrieved from

<https://medium.com/swlh/dear-advertisers-its-time-to-stop-supporting-buz...

a645#.9zm9fa96o>

24/7 wall st.: BuzzFeed audience hits 83 million (2016). . Chatham: Newstex. Retrieved from

<http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docvi...

ntid=13631>