Boris (and Dilyn)’s Spectator Awards Acceptance Speech

Similarly, most attendees were feeling pretty ruff this morning…

mdi-timer 23 January 2020 @ 17:00 23 Jan 2020 @ 17:00 mdi-comment Comments
Why Buzzfeed Doesn’t Make Money

Buzzfeed has never made a profit in 13 years, after being in business that long it is hard to claim you are still a start-up, or as they put it in a statement accompanying the late filing of the UK subsidiary’s annual accounts “still in investment mode”. Which is another way of saying “still losing money”.

The UK subsidiary has quadrupled losses, turnover slumped 35% to £21.6 million, which they say was due to “intercompany revenue” from parent company BuzzFeed Inc. dropping £14.8 million. Whatever those financial shenanigans were they have come to an end. Investors will marvel at how Buzzfeed has burnt through over $500 million of their money which they will never get back.

The pivot to video which was Buzzfeed’s big bet doesn’t appear to be paying any dividends in the UK at least, nor will it until advertisers value the audience. If as, Guido suspects, they have a primarily youthful audience they will not be able to command rates much above Facebook, which means thin margins. Guido has been trying to figure out how to make video or podcasts commercially viable and concluded that until advertisers create audio or video content that needs distribution to his audience, it just won’t be profitable. The Spectator uses their excellent podcast output as a gateway drug to becoming a subscriber, Business Insider and HuffPo are generating significant revenue with sponsored videos. The Economist is very successfully monetising their podcast audience to the tune of millions from corporate advertisers. The Economist demonstrates that if advertisers can be shown you have a valuable audience, they will pay. Buzzfeed’s problem is that their audience is the same “trash audience” that can be bought off Facebook or Google for pennies…

mdi-timer 3 January 2020 @ 02:42 3 Jan 2020 @ 02:42 mdi-comment Comments
Kate Andrews is Spectator’s New Economics Correspondent

Fraser Nelson has lured Kate Andrews from the Institute of Economic Affairs to become the Spectator’s economics correspondent. He wants her to produce economic stories rooted in fact. If as Guido suspects we are about to enter into an era of big spending, big government under the Tories, it is a shrewd move for the Tory house journal to have an economic critique rooted in free market thinking. Fraser has always had a penchant for charts and data so Kate will have to brush up her spreadsheet skills. Her years at the IEA, and before that the ASI, articulating the case for free markets in studios and on Question Time panels has been impressive…

mdi-timer 20 November 2019 @ 12:57 20 Nov 2019 @ 12:57 mdi-comment Comments
Heaven Sent: Spec’s Will to PX

Guido hears the Spectator’s managing editor Will Heaven is leaving for wonk world – he’s off to be the new Director of Policy at Policy Exchange this summer. Brainbox Will was the first person to use the phrase dementia tax in an article during the election, so safe to say he has a keener eye for policy than many. Learned his trade under Gove and Truss at the MoJ, it’s a coup for PX to steal him from the Spec, where he will still be writing from time to time. Congratulations…

mdi-timer 25 June 2018 @ 10:26 25 Jun 2018 @ 10:26 mdi-comment Comments
Guardian Women Protest at Owen Jones: “Even the Spectator is More Feminist Than Us”

The trans versus feminist culture war has a new battleground: the Guardian newsroom. Owen Jones has been leading the fight for self-defining trans people – those who identify as women without any medical change to their gender – to be allowed onto Labour’s all-women shortlists. This viewpoint is extremely unpopular with many non-millennial feminists, who have serious concerns about whether it really advances gender equality. There is increasing angst among feminist journalists at the Guardian who believe that Owen and other men on the trans side are mansplaining all-women shortlists to them. When Owen gloated on Tuesday that feminists had “overplayed their hand”, a few hours later Guardian writer and feminist Hadley Freeman sent what King’s Place colleagues are calling two epic subtweets:

Several female Guardianistas believe Owen’s influence and platform pushing the trans issue is causing large numbers of feminists to regard the Guardian as anti-women. They have been sharing Mumsnet chats which show Owen’s campaigning is immensely unpopular among female Guardian readers (Mumsnet, founded by Justine Roberts, the wife of Ian Katz, is at the centre of the Guardianista world). They are noting that this week’s Spectator carries a piece from Judith Green, one of the co-founders of Woman’s Place UK, making the feminist case on all-women’s shortlists. Several Guardian feminists have been arguing internally this week that: “Even the Spectator is more feminist than us”. Owen’s trick of calling feminists who disagree with him bigots is hardly repairing relations with Guardian women who feel feminists are finding it easier to get a platform in the Spectator than the Guardian…

mdi-timer 8 March 2018 @ 10:40 8 Mar 2018 @ 10:40 mdi-comment Comments
Facebook’s Retreat from News and Algo Change Panics Buzzfeed

Facebook’s Adam Mosseri announced last Thursday that it is getting out of the news business and going back to connecting people with personal stuff:

“Because space in News Feed is limited, showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers…” 

Good for people who want to share pictures of their cats, bad for media organisations that have a business model based on cat GIFs. Twitter’s stock price rose 5% on the news that they will now be the main social news platform…

For Buzzfeed and other Facebook traffic driven organisations this is bad news, Buzzfeed gets some 23% of their traffic at the whim of Mark Zuckerberg. Unsurprisingly Buzzfeed bought adverts on Facebook on Friday pushing soon to be lost users to download their app. At one time Buzzfeed were spending millions on Facebook adverts, they may well have to do so again if their content is dropped from the Facebook feed. In the political sphere those sites that specialise in clickbaity headlines designed to go viral on Facebook may see a drop in traffic…

Approximately 7% of Guido’s traffic is referred from Facebook. Twitter on the other hand drives 23% of our traffic, just behind Google on 24%. The Spectator and Breitbart also rely on Facebook for some ~7% to 8% of their traffic. Skwawkbox and The Canary rely on Facebook respectively for a massive ~40% and ~48% of traffic…

N.B. Traffic data sourced from Similarweb.
mdi-timer 16 January 2018 @ 16:06 16 Jan 2018 @ 16:06 mdi-comment Comments
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