NewFronts

BuzzFeed Taps Video Talent to Make NewFront Presentation Pop

Company Wants to Work With Brands on Cracking Facebook Live

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BuzzFeed Chief Marketing Officer Frank Cooper at the company's NewFronts pitch May 2.
BuzzFeed Chief Marketing Officer Frank Cooper at the company's NewFronts pitch May 2. Credit: BuzzFeed
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BuzzFeed's NewFronts presentation Monday wasn't chock full of news or announcements, but there was a clear message that was best vocalized by president Greg Coleman, who went up last. "If you haven't figured it out, we are open for business," he told the crowd.

Specifically, BuzzFeed is looking to work with brands that are interested in product or story integration opportunities in three areas: shows, specific subjects it covers or "verticals," and themes.

Mr. Coleman, who joined the company nearly two years ago and quickly summed up his experience ("It's been a lot of fun, but our world changes every quarter"), said BuzzFeed wants to find brand partners to help crack Facebook Live, which has quickly become a priority for media companies.

In that vein, BuzzFeed founder and CEO Jonah Peretti referenced the company's recent Facebook Live feat, when it drew an audience of 800,000 concurrent viewers for an experiment in which two staffers placed rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded.

"This number is really exciting to me, because it's the first time we've had a number that's comparable to TV," he said.

BuzzFeed didn't announce any new projects involving traditional TV, but Chief Marketing Officer Frank Cooper said the company is offering advertisers the opportunity to tap into the combined resources and talent of BuzzFeed and NBC Universal, a minority stakeholder in the digital media company. (Vox Media and NBCU recently announced a similar advertising partnership called Concert.)

He also said the company will start working with marketers and agencies to start creating more original content for brands. Previously, BuzzFeed has produced mostly co-branded content that follows the BuzzFeed template and lives on the company's platforms.

BuzzFeed video head honcho Ze Frank talked about how the company is working with (predominantly young) video creators, and spoke on stage with two of them.

"Women in media are not allowed to tell their stories for themselves," said video producer and personality Ashly Perez, explaining why BuzzFeed is special. "There's no part of media that feels represented in the media without stereotypically cast as something ... "

These video creators sometimes "even have relationships with advertisers," Mr. Frank said. "This is modern talent."

Mr. Coleman positioned BuzzFeed as an earnest experimenter, and an ideal partner for brands. "We honestly admit we don't know," he said. "We think we have good ideas. But we don't know. But we know how to find out."