Nielsen to review Buzzfeed news classification as publisher lifts lid on local video strategy

buzzozBuzzfeed looks set to be moved into the main news category of the online rankings with audience measurement company Nielsen telling Mumbrella it is willing to review its position.

Last year Buzzfeed Australia failed in a bid to be included in the main Nielsen news category, being moved from the search engines and portals category to a subcategory of news called “multi-category news”. Sites in the main news category – current events & global news – can generally command a higher advertising rate.

But just over 18 months since launch the viral content site now boasts a local staff of 25, including six dedicated specifically to news reporting.

Australian editor Simon Crerar cited that growth and accreditation to the Canberra Press Gallery as part of why their classification should be reviewed: “We still think that we should be classified as news, I mean we cover global and current events everyday – that’s our bread and butter.

Related content: 14 ways Buzzfeed found its Australian voice

Last year, Nielsen and the IAB, which was forced to review its guidelines on what it classifies as news in the wake of the controversy, ruled that it did not think Buzzfeed had sufficient local news content to be in the same category as, Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Mail.

Simon Crerar


“In Australia we will have more people doing news than we have doing buzz (Buzzfeed’s social and viral posts),” said Crerar.

“Obviously in the same way a piece of content about Khloe Kardashian does well for the Daily Mail or then those sites are in those categories.

“It has long been our position that we produce a lot of serious news content but we do produce entertainment content as well there is no shame in that.”

Monique Perry head of Nielsen’s Media Industry Group said it was willing to look at the issue again: “Buzzfeed’s global site classification was reviewed by Nielsen in 2014 and they did not meet the criteria.

“We are absolutely open to conducting another review this year, and if they meet the criteria, we will adjust Buzzfeed’s classification as appropriate.”

If Buzzfeed had been classified a news website Nielsen numbers show it would have been in and out of the top ten rating news websites, with a unique audience of between 1.5m and 1.8m.

Buzzfeed unique audience according to Nielsen

Buzzfeed unique audience according to Nielsen

Crerar however argues that Buzzfeed is badly represent in the current Nielsen Online Ratings, which do not cover mobile traffic.

Yes I think so we are (unrepresented, he said. “I think everyone is – all publishers have good mobile numbers but some have better numbers than others.

Globally 65 per cent of Buzzfeed’s traffic is through mobile and what Nielsen has said to us is in the coming weeks we will see the first data from their mobile panels, and by the end of the year we will have a true multi-platform panel.

“We hope that it is granular in its reporting of our numbers and allows the industry to see who is having a good impact on mobile.” 

Australia has also become the first place outside the US to get in which Buzzfeed has set up its viral video division Buzzfeed Motion Pictures.



Andrew Gauthier, executive producer of Buzzfeed video, told Mumbrella: “Looking at videos over the years there were a handful of markets that kept popping up as places where videos were getting traction and Australia was one of them.

Australia was regularly one of the biggest markets for us outside of the US and so it was natural for us to make our first foray here.”

Buzzfeed Motion Pictures has been making videos in Australia since July, with its most successful video “Kittens meet Puppies for the first time drawing 34.5m views on Facebook and 4m views on Youtube.

Gauthier noted that despite its reputation as a cat video company a lot of the video content created locally would be focused on content which resonates with local audiences.

“Our focus is on everyday life in Australia,” said Gauthier. “It is to make videos that really resonate with people – where when they see it they decide they have to share that with their mom, their sister or their friend.

“Identity, nostalgia for example are really good for that. It is about touching on things that are really fundamental to Australian’s experiences.”

Tania Safi who heads the local video unit said they had already made a number of videos which she was proud of, covering topics such as sexuality, nostalgia and also race

“For me the one I’m proudest of so far is If Lebanese People Said Stuff White Australians say,” said Safi. “I was able to delve into my private life and lived experience and was able to show experiences of being discriminated against and demonstrated that in a creative way that resonated with many other Lebanese people.

“It has been great and I have had a lot of Arab Australians reaching out to me and thanking me.”

bfmp_logo_vertical-1-234x161In the US the native content site has had a lot of interest from brands and advertisers about Buzzfeed Motion Pictures and creating branded content videos, with their presentation at this year’s IAB Newfronts in New York a sell out event.

Gauthier was reluctant to be drawn on whether Buzzfeed Australia would soon begin to offer branded content videos locally, but said it was under consideration.

“We have been really successful at doing branded content and partnering with brands to make videos that people love and we will continue to do that,” he said. 

Asked specifically about Australia he said: “We are considering it – it’s early days at this stage.”

Nic Christensen 

Simon Crerar is speaking at next month’s Publish conference on the future of news – a look at how news will be produced in the social media world; how it will be consumed; and how to make money out of it. For more information click the below banner.



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