By Michael Sebastian
The VIP line to BuzzFeed's first NewFront presentation Monday, 30 minutes before start time. More people queued up on the other side of the theater. Credit: Michael Sebastian BuzzFeed has often seemed ahead of the web, with strategies such as content explicitly designed to travel far in social media and "native" ads that mimic editorial. But on Monday the website was firmly part of the pack, using its first NewFronts presentation to pitch the same thing every other publisher wants to sell: video.
Founder Jonah Peretti described the site's origins, showed the evolution of its homepage and explained why its content is so shareable on the web. But his main purpose was to demonstrate that BuzzFeed is doing video in a big way.
"Video is the biggest shift in our business," Mr. Peretti told the audience, a large crowd that occupied two theaters, one of which carrying a simulcast of events in the first. BuzzFeed has produced 1,600 videos since September 2012, the company said, racking up more than 1.1 billion views on YouTube.
The presentation was the second of this year's Digital NewFronts, which mimic TV's annual upfront presentations to advertisers in an effort to lure TV ad budgets online. The New York Times pitched its digital wares Monday morning.
BuzzFeed showed off clips ranging from cat videos to a look at the average person's lifespan represented as jellybeans.
It also, central to the point, played videos it had produced for Nestle Purina, Clean and Clear and G.E. BuzzFeed never made an explicit pitch to the buyers and marketers in the audience, but let the three brands sing its praises in a question-and-answer session.
"We're working with them like we have our ad agencies over the past decades," Rick Spiekermann, director of content, community and partnerships at Nestle Purina Pet Care, told Ad Age after the event.