Buzzfeed founder and chief executive Jonah Peretti has announced a multi-revenue model for the publisher, criticizing Facebook and Google for taking the vast majority of ad revenue.
In this announcement, Peretti took aim at Facebook and Google’s grasp on digital advertising. “The media is in crisis,” Peretti said in a statement to his staff. “Google and Facebook are taking the vast majority of ad revenue, and paying content creators far too little for the value they deliver to users.” He claimed it “puts high-quality creators at a financial disadvantage, and favors publishers of cheap media: fake news, propaganda and conspiracy theories, quickly re-written stories with sensationalistic spin, shady off-shore content farms, algorithmically generated content, and pirated videos.”
His comments come in stark contrast to ones he made earlier this year in an interview with The Drum columnist Ian Burrell, when he said “news publishers have themselves to blame.”
“A lot of the traditional media players are opportunistically attacking Facebook and Google,” he said to Burrell, “because Facebook and Google have figured out a better model for delivering information and entertaining people which is real-time, personalised, shareable and global – all these things that you can't do in broadcast and print.”
In today’s post to Buzzfeed staff, Peretti called the “economic impasse” Facebook and Google created a “deep threat to society in a time when political and cultural polarization are deeper than ever, fracturing our shared sense of reality.”
Peretti said Buzzfeed, as the “largest independent digital media company,” is at the nexus of these problems, but he also considered it’s in the strongest position to solve them. His solution: launching a multi-platform model based off of the success of Buzzfeed’s Tasty Brand, in an entity he called “Buzzfeed Media Brands.”
In a chart he referenced, Buzzfeed Media Brands (which includes mini-platforms Tasty, Nifty, Goodful, and “a growing portfolio”), Buzzfeed News and Buzzfeed’s main site will each have around nine different streams of revenue, split between three “business opportunities”: e-commerce, advertising, and studio offerings and partnerships.
This approach shift came after the publisher announced cuts to 8% of its staff in November. Peretti said he plans to talk to staff further about Buzzfeed's plans at an all-hands meeting tomorrow.