Digitas/LBi Brings BuzzFeed In-House, Gains Access To Epic Digital

Betting on branded “listicles,” themed questionnaires and similarly shareable native ad formats, DigitasLBi is bringing BuzzFeed in-house.

“It’s a skill-swap alliance,” Tony Weisman, CEO of DigitasLBi North America, told those gathered for the agency’s NewFront presentation on Thursday.

Based out of a “Brand Live” room located in the agency's New York office, “members of the BuzzFeed (brand team) will be walking the halls … and tackling real client briefs,” Weisman said.

Along with developing brand strategies, the BuzzFeed team will be expected to assist in real-time content creation for clients. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Weisman’s taste for native advertising is well known. “Clients are increasingly demanding an innovative, digitally native approach to all media,” he said earlier this year. On Thursday, he also announced an exclusive partnership with non-fiction publisher Epic Digital, whose co-founder Joshuah Bearman is credited with writing the true story behind the 2012 Best Picture winner “Argo.”

The purpose of the partnership is “to tell real stories worth remembering,” Weisman said on Thursday.

For the next 24 months, DigitasLBi clients will get "first look" access to Epic Digital projects, as well as various opportunities to connect with the publisher’s staff of journalists, researchers and designers.

DigitasLBi has arguably had a bigger presence at this year’s NewFronts than any other agency.

Already this week, the Publicis unit bought the exclusive ad rights to two new AOL projects: “Connected,” the Web giant’s first long-form documentary series, which Sprint is sponsoring exclusively; and “My Hero,” in which actress Zoe Saldana will star and serve as executive producer.

On Wednesday, Google said DigitasLBi would be the first agency partner to purchase ads via Google Preferred, which allows brands to advertise alongside top-tier YouTube videos.

Billed as a “pre-NewFront” deal back in October, DigitasLBi and Razorfish committed $100 million to buying up ad inventory across Google platforms, including YouTube.

Also this week, The Onion said it would renew its original Web series, "Tough Season," which was developed in partnership with DigitasLBi.


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