Once a strong proponent of native advertising over display ads, BuzzFeed has now decided to run banner ads on its homepage, story pages and mobile apps.
In the past, the millennial-focused publisher had rejected traditional banner advertising to focus on sponsored content in its popular formats — signature posts, quizzes, listicles and videos. For example, BuzzFeed has produced a “Dear Kitten” video series for cat food brand Friskies and sponsored listicles for companies like Taco Bell.
In 2013, BuzzFeed president Jon Steinberg even stated: “It’s the end of direct; banners have been terrible for 18 years.”
At the time, a company spokesperson claimed the its sponsored-content ads received 10 times the click rate of typical display units.
But native advertising takes manpower, and it is more difficult to scale than programmatic ads.
Now that BuzzFeed is reportedly planning to launch its IPO next year, display advertising may boost its revenue. It will help scale and monetize its owned-and-operated platforms, Business Insider reports.
BuzzFeed CEO and founder Jonah Peretti told Business Insider: "Tactically, programmatic has improved in terms of loading times, mobile experience and ad quality — and opens up another way for us to monetize our huge audience. The move also benefits our global strategy by allowing us to generate revenue in markets before we've built business teams to implement native monetization.”
BuzzFeed will useGoogle’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange and the Facebook Audience Network to run banner ads. It has been testing display advertising since at least February 2016, when it ran a banner ad for the NBCUniversal streaming comedy service Seeso.According to comScore, BuzzFeed reached more than 75 million U.S. unique users in June. The company says its has 9 billion monthly views overall, including social platforms.