The king of the internet jungle, Amazon lets you – the audience – in on the development process for its original video content.
...because few websites can generate clicks like BuzzFeed. While it’s easy to hate them for making “listicles” into a thing or for the endless memes of cats dressed up in retro fashions, BuzzFeed actually does produce some groundbreaking journalism on issues like drone warfare, as well as original video content with enough views to make anyone not named James Cameron jealous. Filmmakers can even learn from BuzzFeed’s mastery of data-driven distribution, which uses social media metrics to tailor content to audiences. The site has also revolutionized the use of branded content to make paid ads seem more like viral videos than thirty second nuisances before the content you actually want to watch.
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BuzzFeed has taken the old saying “fish where the fish are” to heart. We’re all tired of hearing that we live in an age of information, but BuzzFeed actually takes advantage of what it knows about us by offering videos, news stories and yes, even those damn lists that reflect our interests. The company was also among the first to realize that word-of-mouth and recommendations from actual people can draw audiences across multiple social media platforms. Rather than restricting its content, BuzzFeed encourages users to share through posts that reach large groups of people at a time. While almost everyone does this now, BuzzFeed essentially created this user-generated, viral marketing model.
As advertising both on the web and through traditional media outlets continues to evolve, BuzzFeed has explored a different model through branded content. Instead of a standard thirty second commercial spot, these videos tell stories that reflect people’s actual experience with the product or try to entice the viewer like other viral content. By embedding these in the site among other links and videos, BuzzFeed offers what it calls native ads, allowing viewers to opt into watching instead of forcing them to mute the speaker until the end of the commercial. There are some dangers to this approach, however. By camouflaging ads in with actual content, there is the chance that the audience will become skeptical of all the videos on the site. BuzzFeed has also run into some trouble for removing negative user comments on some branded content. However, as new financing models for media content emerge, branded content could offer the most viable alternative — as well as opportunities for struggling filmmakers to earn a living.
All of BuzzFeed’s algorithms and marketing savvy wouldn’t be of much use without the goods to back it up. BuzzFeed’s motion pictures division is responsible for creating original videos that generate 1 billion views per month, meaning that within a year, conceivably every person on the planet has watched a piece of BuzzFeed produced content more than one time. In keeping with the site’s model, the videos range from quick gifs and short-form comedy to narrative and serialized productions. As with other material on the site, their in-house productions use information in order to create content that appeals to their viewers. While the company has stopped short of producing feature length movies for the moment, they have enlisted film professionals such as "Pulp Fiction" producer Michael Shamberg as advisors going forward.
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