Announcing the move at the IAB Digital Upfronts event in London today (19 October) the publisher boldly claimed success for what is still a fledgling division, saying branded video views run into the millions and, perhaps more importantly, match the engagement rates it sees for non-branded videos.
Scale is its biggest asset. In one month, the Californian studio will produce over 340 videos in 11 different languages gathering some three billion views across 30 distribution platforms.
Spearheading the expansion from Hollywood is Buzzfeed Motion Picture president Ze Frank – a former vlogger himself – while newly instated general manager for Europe, Kate Burns, is leading the albeit smaller operation in London. Currently, just a handful of people make up the British team but within the next six months Burns is set to begin a recruitment drive.
Currently, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat dominate the service, with branded content accounting for 10 per cent of that output. Since its launch last year, Buzzfeed has shared a plethora of advertisers in the US and is now ready to transport those insights across the pond.
“It’s certainly high time as television goes through lots of trials and tribulations across the globe,” Frank told journalists at the announcement. “There’s a lot of brands used to having high impact awareness work on TV that are starting to wonder where that will go.”
Test and Learn
From the Hollywood headquarters it’s been in a ‘test and learn’ phase, recruiting a team of over 200 content makers to experiment with different formats.
From there, Frank has identified the three different “buckets” of content it deems highly shareable – ‘identity’, ‘emotional gift’ and ‘social information’. Buzzfeed is particularly interested in how brands can attach themselves to ‘identity’ content, which leans on the idea that a video can express a quality better than a person can in words. For example, a video titled ‘Weird Things All Couples Fight About’ (4.53m views) elicits the “that’s me!” response prompting the desire to share with someone else.
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