The Moneybags Are Coming!

I was interested to see what BuzzFeed would be serving up on the same day NBC Universal officially plunked down $200 million for a stake in it.

Top story: “This Woman Embraced Her Skin Condition And Shut Down Body-Shaming Bullies.”

For BuzzFeed, I find that a pretty great story; a 19-year-old woman born was born with a rare skin disease that covers her skin in hundreds of birthmarks and moles. It’s so unusual she doesn’t have to tell us a thing about terrible insults she’s endured.

BuzzFeed lives for that pass-around buzz, and this story brings it home in a personal, not-nasty way. In fact, it talks to its audience the same way a $200 million investment seems to talk to every content creator: It touches them deeply.

As we’ve noted earlier, the dance has seemed to have begun with giant companies swallowing up, or at least butting in, to prime Internet space.

BMO Capital Markets’ analysis said today that Comcast’s new (and so far just rumored) Watchable video service is proof there is “growing demand” for big media companies “to bring their short-form content to ad-supported, mobile-oriented platforms.”

It says “the primary incentive being offered is greater share of economics,” which I am pretty sure means, “they can make lots of money.”

For Google’s YouTube and Facebook, BMO Capital says: “This is a reminder that maximizing their massive audiences for brand-oriented ad campaigns will require sharing more of the economics with premium content creators to amplify those brand messages.” 

In other words: “Look, there’s somebody big and threatening right behind you who is going to try to take your money, so you'd better review that business model.”

Indeed, The Wall Street Journal reports NBC’s Watchable will give its video contributors a bigger share of the advertising take, so better to weaken YouTube, Facebook and the newbie, Vessel.

Buying into BuzzFeed and Vox (NBC Universal did that earlier) doesn’t hurt a bit, either.

To the many millions who don’t know/understand/care about online video, why big media companies are so excited might be a mystery. If you show a not-video-immersed person some of the biggest sites, like BuzzFeed, their reaction usually seems to be “So?”

It’s content that people want, and what people want is where advertisers go. Because they do, NBC Universal wants to be there, and so do many others.

There’s probably been too much made about how wise BuzzFeed has been, with its supposedly fine-honed and algorithmic-precise ability to create shareable content.

But it’s not like the first time it happened. That story about the 19-year-okd with a rare skin condition is just BuzzFeed being BuzzFeed. If, however, you had seen it a decade ago on the cover of The National Enquirer while waiting in the checkout lane, you would have muttered, “How typical!” not “How viral!”

It is much better than the story stacked below it: “16 Struggles Of Dating When You're A Twentysomething Indian Woman — and much superior to a story that is doing big business there today, titled “The Ultimate Ranking of Cuddling Positions.”But at the hypothetical supermarket chec-out, you’ve moved from scanning the Enquirer to the cover of Cosmo next to it.

And right about now, if you’re vexed about what $200 million will just get you a part of, you should be reaching for a calm-down Snickers.

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