Media Agencies Sign on for BuzzFeed's Course in Creating Buzzy Content

Publisher Will Train Horizon and UM on Content Creation, Tap into UM's Measurement Capabilities

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BuzzFeed is working with two media agencies -- indie shop Horizon Media and Interpublic Group of Cos.' UM -- to teach them how to produce BuzzFeed-style posts for clients and better understand the audience data behind the posts.

The partnerships are an extension of BuzzFeed's Social Storytelling Program, which rolled out in May. The program, which is similar to agency cultivation efforts at Google and Facebook, aims to seed the market with agencies and people that will produce content as likely to go viral as BuzzFeed's best posts.

The BuzzFeed Authorized Storyteller badge
The BuzzFeed Authorized Storyteller badge

"What's unique about the Storytelling program is that it's bespoke to each agency," said Jonathan Perelman, VP-agency strategy and industry development at BuzzFeed.

Essentially, the program teaches agencies how to best advertise on BuzzFeed. Vayner Media was the first to sign on when the program was introduced. The agency has since created stories to promote GE's Datalandia app, such as "15 Ways 3D Printing Is Saving The World." The partnerships with Horizon and UM suggest the program is gaining traction.

BuzzFeed does not directly charge the agencies for taking part. In May, BuzzFeed said it did plan to require minimum budgets from agencies' clients.

Mr. Perelman declined to discuss the financial arrangements of its latest partnerships with Horizon and UM.

The relationships between BuzzFeed and Horizon and UM will differ. Horizon will be part of the site's Storytelling program. A marketing creative team from BuzzFeed -- not its editorial staff -- will work with Horizon employees how to produce highly shareable posts.

But a focus of the program will be training with BuzzFeed's analytics platform, where Horizon's people will learn how to better measure and optimize content, according to Mr. Perelman. The agency will also be able to create new content in real time.

"We'll do more of the data piece with Horizon, more of the things that a media agency cares about and less of the creative piece," said Mr. Perelman.

UM's deal with the publisher is slightly different. For starters, the program is called BuzzFeed Studio, not Social Storytelling. BuzzFeed will have access to UM's proprietary audience-measurement platform metrics to calculate the effectiveness of branded content. It will also incorporate a live workshop in which a team of agency and BuzzFeed staffers produce content for BuzzFeed in real-time in 24-hour periods.

"We'll be working hand-in-hand with them to create content, which will be a little bit different from what we're doing with Horizon," said Mr. Perelman. UM and Buzzfeed might also host "hackathon" sessions with clients, the agency said.

Both UM and Horizon will receive "accreditation" from BuzzFeed (including the company's cat badge) and supporting materials and early previews of upcoming BuzzFeed features and products.

Mr. Perelman said the custom training with agencies is about creating more than just a "one-hit" wonder post on behalf of a brand.

"It's really taking a deeper understanding of why something works and looking at the data and drawing insights to say this type of content works really well on Facebook and this works better on Pinterest," he explained.

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