Ecommerce has "huge potential" for brands on Buzzfeed

by: Lucinda Southern on 11 November 2014

Buzzfeed’s Philip Byrne outlines the “Commandments of being interesting” for brands

Ahead of the Festival of Marketing this week, Philip Byrne, creative director at Buzzfeed, talks to 12ahead about how brands can stay relevant.

How can you tell when something has become a cultural touchstone? One way is when it appears in its own Buzzfeed article; take Pharrell’s hat, for instance. And pop-culture phenomena is something that brands are desperate to be part of.

Talking to 12ahead, Philip Byrne, Buzzfeed’s creative director, says that Pepsi scored big with this piece of branded content during the Grammys earlier in the year. “Everyone wants to shoot for reactive content,” he says, “and we’ve certainly seen some really robust examples, particularly in the States.” Unable to disclose exact numbers, Byrne said this post had views in the region of six digits and “excellent sharing when paid is compared to earned.”

This real-time content marketing gleans the most ideal results when brands have been in partnership with the publisher for several years, something that Byrne is seeing in America now but hasn’t yet reached the UK.

“We’re not looking for a one night stand,” he says, outlining the social newsroom mentality that Pepsi created during the awards show. It’s hard to argue that longer partnerships offer a more comfortable, efficient and streamlined way to work.

Byrne highlights two key elements that contribute to success for brands looking to promote content; trust and freedom for the editorial teams, (“unfortunately there can sometimes be a conflation between the brand manager and the audience”) and a clarity for what the team at Buzzfeed can offer, (“we’ve always been very clear about what we can do”.)

Social metrics is a murky subject for brands, but Buzzfeed stands firm in its measure of success, and that is peer-to-peer relationships. “It’s the most honest and weighty measurement,” he says, “it meets that one-to-many or many-to-many that we’re all looking for. It’s why Facebook is unveiling more sentiment analysis.”

Byrne says Buzzfeed puts a lot of onus on stull trying to innovate, an area where he thinks other new media companies try and copy a ‘Buzzfeed List’ format, basing their revenue models on the publisher. With this he explains that the company will continue to try and find new ways to tell stories over the internet. For brands, this is manifesting in the publishers’ ecommerce function, which are being rolled out with certain brand partners in America but an area that has huge potential in the UK too, bringing the point of purchase much closer.

With brands on Buzzfeed, the message is that in order to get the metrics and the virility that they’re desperate for, thinking about the distribution when creating the content is key. “You can’t take the distribution for granted” he says, “we know that people are the distribution, [the content] needs to reflect their lifestyle.” Think about that when you’re creating gifs of dancing corgis.

Philip Byrne, Creative Director, Buzzfeed, is speaking at The Festival of Marketing, 12-13 November, Tobacco Dock: festivalofmarketing.com