Buzzfeed questions Nielsen’s decision not to classify it as a news site

Buzzfeed JonahViral content site Buzzfeed is questioning the decision of audience measurement company Nielsen to exclude it from the official top ten most read Australian news websites, because it is not currently classed as a news site.

Under the Nielsen system Buzzfeed sits under the “search engines, portals, and communities” category. However, Buzzfeed insists it is a news site, and says it would have been tenth in yesterday’s Nielsen Online Rankings with an audience of  1.683m Australians, ahead of the BBC which had a unique audience of 1.681m.

Simon Crerar editor of Buzzfeed Australia said he would be speaking to Nielsen about the issue, adding: “We consider ourselves a news and entertainment company in the same way that NineMSN, and the Mail Online have a mix between hard news and entertainment content.

“That is very much what we do too.”

Buzzfeed is one of a number of overseas websites to enter the Australian online space in the last 12 months with the US viral website, which generates much of its traffic through social media, formally launching in a joint event with journalism body The Walkley Foundation in January.

Yesterday’s rankings saw The Mail Online and The Guardian, which have both launched digital Australian operations, rocketing up the Australian rankings taking out the sixth and eighth spots respectively.

Earlier this month Buzzfeed also announced it had hired Australian journalist Christine Keneally as an investigative reporter to work across its international sites.

Crerar pointed to news content on the site, citing examples from the last 24 hours including NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s resignation and the reaction to it, the Royal visit and also broke the story of the ABC launching Chris Lilley’s new comedy series Jonah from Tonga in a “binge weekend” on iView.

“Our focus is definitely more on entertainment, but we are approaching news in an engaging way. For example we did something on the Australians for coal hashtag, we did something on Barry O’Farrell’s resignation. When there is a hard news discussion going on in social media we like to put our spin on it.” said Crerar.

“It’s lovely for us that Chris Lilley is such a fan of Buzzfeed. We were obviously delighted that they allowed us to break that news and we have some exciting content coming around the iView binge weekend.”

A spokeswoman for Nielsen said the audience company does not currently consider Buzzfeed a news website but was happy to review this with them ad the Interactive Advertising Bureau in light of the recent Australian launch.

She added: “That’s just how they were categorised based on their content. At the moment they are in the category called search engines, portals and communities.”

Gai Le Roy, director of research at the IAB, the industry body which has endorsed Nielsen as the advertising currency for online measurement, was happy to speak to Buzzfeed about the categorisation issue.

“We are constantly reviewing categorisation and the shape of news and news sites is changing constantly,” said Le Roy. “We are happy to work with Buzzfeed to see what the right position is for them.”

Buzzfeed are not the only new overseas outfit to run into conflict with Nielsen. The Australian arm of The Guardian, run by Katharine Viner, has also criticised the audience measurement firm arguing it has not been adequately reflecting its mobile traffic.

As part of the changes Nielsen is working to ensure mobile and tablet traffic is accurately reflected in the ratings.

“This is just one step,” said Monique Perry, Nielsen’s head of media industry group. ”The next step will be adding in the mobile and tablet panel, which is in a 2014 pilot with the IAB, and we will be looking to incorporate that into our currency measurement next year.”

Nielsen is currently under growing industry scrutiny as the IAB prepares to retender the lucrative online audience measurement contract for preferred supplier.

As Mumbrella revealed earlier this week Nielsen has recently announced major changes to its methodology and its consumer panel systems that have see the size of the Australian online audience grow by some two million users. Nielsen has held the contract since 2011 and had the contract extended last year without a tender.

Nic Christensen 


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