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Buzzfeed opens up ‘unique’ cross-platform native ad product swarm to advertisers

swarm buzzfeedBuzzfeed is launching a new marketing initiative called Swarm allowing brands to reach its users across its different platforms, its chief marketing officer Frank Cooper announced overnight.

The move follows the digital media company’s decision last year to stop driving traffic to its website and instead serve up content built for the platforms its millions of users choose to engage with it on, from its own apps to social networks like Facebook and Snapchat.

“What came out of this distributed media ad strategy was a product called Swarm, our 360 cross-platform strategy that’s designed to light up our entire network in a co-ordinated manner,” he told the SXSW conference.

“In a condensed period of time we light up our entire platform across networks, and it’s been extraordinary.”

Frank Cooper

Frank Cooper

The beta test, likely to only be made available to brands in the US initially, comes after the company trialled the system by creating various pieces of content for Universal to push the movie, Sisters.

“If you look at the content that drove most of the activity around the hashtag of the Sisters movie on Facebook, Buzzfeed content was three of the top 10 consistently for the entire week,” Cooper said.

“It drove the kind of connection and created this kind of event that I think is only possible through this cross-platform network.”

Channels used include Buzzfeed.com, Buzzfeed’s video app, the Buzzfeed app, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter.

“We think this is a unique proposition for Buzzfeed and advertisers. Lighting up our entire network across hundreds of millions of unique visitors that we touch across all the platforms that we operate in,” added Cooper.

Responding to a question from the audience about Buzzfeed’s appeal versus traditional TV Cooper said he did not see it as a competition between the two for ad dollars, saying they played a different role in the marketing mix.

“I don’t see it as a TV versus digital thing,” he said. “TV has its place if you want to create an iconic image that’s aspirational.

“If you want something that’s relatable and connect to people everyday then the social space is the space to be.

“I think people see the opportunity in each space and how it relates to people in their real lives.”

He also admitted they were battling to find good measurements for its overall audience reach, saying the website visits shown by the Commscore metric showed just a fifth of its overall reach.

Last year Buzzfeed launched a food network called Tasty which has managed to attract more than a billion video views since launch.

Cooper pointed to the potential of these splinter brands to bolster the company’s reach, adding they could look to take it across platforms such as TV  or pop up restaurants.

Alex Hayes

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