To become a global media brand you need to be more than a website says Buzzfeed founder



Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti has described the way he made it into a global brand, saying creating all of its own tools was key to its success.

Speaking at SXSW overnight he said the company was building a business model to make them platform agnostic, and not forcing readers to go to their own platform to consume the content.

He also said the company had turned down approaches from traditional media companies saying: “The problem with legacy media is you often can’t get data back.

“We’ve had a bunch of traditional media companies come to offer us TV channels and movies, but we’ve resisted those opportunities and rejected because you might get your money back but there’s no data, and you find you’re in the position of film executives where they don’t know if it fails why and if it succeeds why it has.” 

He added they were motivated to keep a “personal connection with our audience”.

On building the brand he said having a global footprint was important, as the platforms like Facebook and Twitter which it uses to distribute content are also global.

He said Buzzfeed had deliberately opted to build its own apps, content recommendation engines and video platforms so it would be more adaptable to the market, and not have to wait for outside vendors to make changes.

“The way we expand into a global media company is to not just be a site, but to have apps across the web and be indifferent about where people watch or find our content rather than force people to do something because of the peculiarity of our business model,” added Peretti.

On that point he said the company would ideally not be beholden to driving people to its own products to consumer its content, but instead be able to monetise it equally well on other outlets.

He added: “Ideally we would be totally indifferent and not have a business reason to say go here that where our banner ads are, we could do what’s right with the consumer ad not force them to behave in a way they don’t want to behave.”

He also pointed to content partnerships with brands like HBO on game of Thrones and Monopoly as ways the brand was expanding beyond its own platform.

“It used to be publishers could make money hand over fist even if their advertising wasn’t very good or prominent, but that’s changed,” he said. “Nowadays to build a great media company you need to build a really great business.”

Asked by the audience whether there were limittions to the type of content the site shared Peretti said there were moral obligations to consider, adding: “Having virality as the only objective and not thinking about the impact on the world is not a long term game, and too many sites are doing that.

“As a media company you have to look at impact and if the impact is negative then something going viral is a negative thing, and if it’s positive then something going viral is a good thing.”

Alex Hayes in Austin

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