Profitless Buzzfeed Misses Revenue Target

omg-buzzfeed

The Financial Times reports that Buzzfeed fell short of its 2015 revenue target by 30% and has slashed its 2016 target by 50%. It took Guido 4 years to make a profit. No one ever said it was easy, overnight success generally takes years. Buzzfeed, the cool new kid on the block, has been going 9 years without making a profit. Nine years…

During those 9 years it has burned through hundreds of millions of dollars without paying investors a cent back. Smart people buy into the Buzzfeed concept, that it can reach millenials on their phones and on social networks with viral content as well as disguised advertising in the form of snarky content. They also have a conventional website famous for cat videos and lists. To make advertisers feel better about the online context of their paid content, Buzzfeed has branched out into serious content from serious journalists, with serious investigations and even some politics. It gives the Buzzfeed brand more journalistic credibility. Which goes comparatively unread.

Business Insider, Huffington Post and Vice News are all engaged in an online land grab, promising investors they will grab the global audience first and make profits later. Business Insider sold to Axel Springer for a cool $442 million last year. Outside the US it was not making a profit – though Insiders told Guido they were no longer losing money in London. Insider has a model that makes sense, aiming at time-pressed people interested in business. HuffPo aims to maximise traffic through aggregation and SEO optimisation, selling conventional display advertising – the AOL parent has a massive digital advertising sales operation. Vice is apparently to the millenial generation what MTV was to their parents and appears to be making money hand over fist.

The risk for Buzzfeed investors is that people no longer want the funny GIFs once they graduate, get a job and get busy. This leaves them with teenage “trash-traffic” of appeal only to generic advertisers who won’t pay high prices. Advertisers also worry, now that the novelty has worn off, that the advertorials don’t work or worse still, don’t fit their advertising goals. 

Buzzfeed Offers Free Beer To “Muslim Issues” Reporter

buzzfeed

Buzzfeed UK are taking on a new reporter with a “special interest in Muslim issues”, who must be fluent in either Bengali, Urdu, or Arabic and have a “strong list of contacts and sources within the Muslim community”. Perks of the job? They’re offering the successful candidate free beer once a month…

No shortage of beer-loving Arabic, Bengali and Urdu speakers who could apply…

British Journalism Awards Bunfight! Speccie v Newsnight / Buzzfeed

yentob

It wouldn’t be the British Journalism Awards without a good old barney about the nominations. Newsnight and Buzzfeed are jointly nominated for Investigation of the Year for the Kids Co scandal – a story on which they did a lot of good follow-up work but was broken by Miles Goslett in the Speccie. Five months earlier…

Buzzfeed’s ‘Head of News’ Stuart Millar is probably regretting engaging:

Media organisations can pay £75 for a vanity-satisfying nomination, something Newsnight and Buzzfeed apparently wasted no time in doing but Miles Goslett, who is a freelancer, didn’t. As Goslett explains:

“Until February 2015, when The Spectator published my article on Kids Company, not a single bad word about it or its chief executive Camila Batmanghelidjh had appeared in the mainstream media.”

You can read the original Goslett scoop here

Guardianisation of Buzzfeed Continues

The Guardian’s head of news is the latest to twig that former colleagues who’ve jumped to Buzzfeed are getting paid more money for less work:

Millar joins Janine Gibson and James Ball as part of the ongoing exodus from Kings Place to their more productivity-relaxed internet alter ego.

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LOL: Guardian’s Janine Gibson New Buzzfeed UK Chief

Confirming Buzzfeed’s status as the growing place where disappointed hacks retreat for more money and less work, Janine Gibson is off to do “serious news” as their editor-in-chief.

In a swift update to his Twitter bio, current editor Luke Lewis has been forced sideways to be Executive Editor. According to their press release he will remain in charge of entertainment news / cat pictures:

Gibson will manage the more than 40 reporters and writers currently based in London and oversee all editorial content, including the site’s News, Buzz, and Life divisions. She will also be hiring across those areas, with plans to invest particularly aggressively in BuzzFeed News’ British operation. Lewis will continue as a key leader in BuzzFeed’s London newsroom, with a focus on entertainment coupled with data and analytics as BuzzFeed continues to grow internationally.

From one loss maker to another… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Buzzfeed Accused of Murky Microsoft Dirty Work

buzzfeed fail

Central European News, a viral news agency based in Vienna, have responded to a hit-job article on them by rivals BuzzFeed. CEN accuse them of being in the pocket of Microsoft – a major advertiser – and doing their dirty work.

In a newly released book called “Buzz Bottom Feeders: An Insider Look At How BuzzFeed Tried To Destroy A Rival Business”, CEN accuse BuzzFeed of axing posts critical of Microsoft, one of their biggest sponsors. It wouldn’t be the first time BuzzFeed have deleted a story criticising their advertisers…

A parliamentary question was filed today by Austrian politician Hans Joerg Jenewein about the links between Microsoft and Buzzfeed:

“Furthermore, it has recently been revealed that Microsoft’s powerful position may have influenced the ability of the media to write about it. I am speaking in particular about critical reports on Microsoft that were deleted from the international news site BuzzFeed. Microsoft is a major advertiser of BuzzFeed… Is the Ministry aware that the news agency Central European News (CEN), operating an office in Vienna, was accused by BuzzFeed of falsifying its reports after BuzzFeed found out that CEN was about to publish a report on the political connections between Kurt Gartlehner [Austrian Politician] and Microsoft?”

As the book has also been presented as evidence to the Austrian parliament, it is now a matter of public record and not liable to any legal action.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

How Buzzfeed’s #BoardGamerGate Played Out

monopoly-sucks-lol

Back in March Tom Chivers, formerly of The Telegraph, poster a mildly mocking why-oh-why piece about “Why Monopoly Is The Worst Game In The World”. Some time later it was deleted. We now are told at the behest of the Editor-in-chief, Ben Smith. Originally it was claimed that the Tom Chivers deleted it himself, an odd thing for a journalist to do unless he is being sued. Tom didn’t delete his tweets about it:tom chivers monopoly tweet

It is unlikely Tom knew that Hasbro, the makers of Monopoly, had signed a big sponsorship deal with Buzzfeed until perhaps Ben Smith, editor-in-chief, had a word.

84752-Loki-what-the-fuck-are-you-doi-kOM2[1]

At this point, in breach of all the fancy ethical guidelines that Buzzfeeders boast about…

… the post got deleted.

Critics were on the lookout for this kind of malfeasance after Gawker published an article on Thursday reporting that BuzzFeed deleted an article that attacked Dove’s latest advertising campaign.

On Friday morning MediaGuido was alerted by a reader that this had happened in relation to Monopoly. At 14:30 we reached out to Buzzfeed and Tom Chivers for an explanation. We got no reply. However, coincidentally perhaps, a former Telegraph colleague of Tom Chivers tweeted a reference to the issue at 15:40, at the same time as we published out first story.

The situation at this point was pretty much:

Media Guido predicted it would go like this:

It pretty much did exactly that, except far quicker…

Here’s the cover up:

As soon as New York media types started pushing the story, the statement of regret swiftly arrived:

It turns out that Buzzfeed at the very least self-censors when it comes to lucrative advertisers. The Telegraph did the same with HSBC, about which a Buzzfeed report took a very moralistic tone, reporting that “…Telegraph colleagues had lost all faith in the newspaper’s management”. Turns out hipsters can be hypocrites too…

The article isn’t even that interesting anyway:

LOL.

Buzzfeed: Follow the Monopoly Money

Following Media Guido’s revelation that Buzzfeed deleted a negative article about the board game Monopoly just a month after entering a lucrative sponsored content deal with Monopoly’s owner Hasbro, Techno Guido can report that Buzzfeed inserted computer code into their website that forced Google and Wayback Machine into hiding the deleted article from their cache:

buzzfeed robot

This stops people from viewing an article critical of one its sponsored content ‘collaborators’ and even prevents people who search for the article to see that it existed.

Google cache and Wayback Machine are digital archives of the web that can be used to find web pages that are no longer available.

Tom Chivers’ Monopoly article is the only one of Buzzfeed’s deleted articles that has been blocked from Google in this way, the other article mentioned above has not been deleted. It’s always the cover up that gets you.

UPDATE: Matthew Ingram points out that removing an entire post is explicitly forbidden in BuzzFeed’s ponderous code of conduct:

Selection_007[1]

Buzzfeed Monopoly Advertising Mystery

monopoly buzzfeed

On the 12 March Buzzfeed published an article by Tom Chivers called “Why Monopoly Is The Worst Game In The World, And What You Should Play Instead“. The next day the article had been deletedat the […]

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Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t…

wmf

Media Guido has been invited to pay £210 plus VAT to learn about the future of news as told by keynote speakers from Twitter ($1.8 billion in debt), Buzzfeed ($96.3 million in debt after 8 years), Sky News (reputed to […]

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Lefty Topspin Takes Sheen Off Buzzfeed

“Michael Sheen Has Delivered A Furious Attack On The Tories’ Treatment Of The NHS” reads the Buzzfeed headline reporting on a speech by the actor over the weekend. Sheen “delivered a impassioned speech in defence of the NHS” and apparently […]

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Future of Journalism Update

Step One: Tumblr blogger uploads image of a dress, which some people think is gold and white, and others think is blue and black.

Step Two: Buzzfeed lifts Tumblr post.

Step Three: The Buzzfeed post receives 22 million pageviews and […]

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