BuzzFeed, the digital media company, has seen a meaningful spike in the revenue it generates from third-party platforms like Facebook and YouTube, a shift that may reflect wider content trends which are taking shape online.

Jonah Peretti, co-founder/CEO at BuzzFeed, discussed this subject in a keynote session at SXSW 2019, an event held in Austin, Texas.

At the headline level, he reported, the company made over $300m in revenue last year, including $84m from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Netflix.

Drilling down into this topic, he revealed that in the opening three months of last year, BuzzFeed made $500,000 in revenue for the videos it uploaded to Facebook – a modest sum given this content reached “hundreds of millions of people”.

The equivalent dollar payment covering the final quarter of 2018, though, stood at $3m. “That's a lot of progress,” Peretti said. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How BuzzFeed is building a digital media brand for the future.)

“One thing that we've seen is that the platforms are starting to pay for the content that digital media companies are producing. We're starting to get closer to a fair payment for all the content that we're producing.”

Similarly, only 30% of BuzzFeed videos were monetised on YouTube in January 2017, whereas that figure hit 70% by November 2018, “meaning the fill rates were going up and improving,” he continued.

And Peretti argued that the sheer amount of unreliable content on social media could be encouraging this shift. “It's much, much easier to actually create an ecosystem where good content can thrive,” he said.

“If you do that, there's less room for bad content, there's less room for bad actors, and you actually have more ability to connect with your audience and give them things that they really like.”

Earlier this year, BuzzFeed announced it would be laying off around 15% of its staff. It has also sought to diversify its revenue streams, whether it is by unveiling new ad products or launching real-world products by partnering with retailers.

“It's been hard recently. It's been hard in digital media. So, a lot of digital media companies, including BuzzFeed, have had to reduce costs and reduce staff. It's been a painful time,” Peretti said.

On the plus-side, he added, “I think that if you see the changes that are happening on the platforms, and you see the businesses you can build with digital, there is a really strong future for digital media. And it's a future that we are very excited about.”

Sourced from WARC