BuzzFeed's newest spin-off brand, As/Is, is debuting Tuesday to cover beauty and style with a focus on body positivity and celebrating individuality.
As/Is is the latest effort by BuzzFeed to find new revenue models through lifestyle brands that not only generate content, but experiences and products for a millennial audience. It's an area the digital publisher has been betting more on as it struggles to find ways to compete with Facebook and Google for ad revenue.
Other publishers have turned to sub-brands or verticals to try to simultaneously expand their consumer reach and give advertisers new ways to buy them. New York magazine, for example, has established distinct brands such as Vulture for entertainment, The Cut for fashion and Grub Street for food.
Last month, Conde Nast said it was rolling sub-brands such as The Hive, AD Clever, Healthyish and Basically under a banner dubbed Next Generation Network in an effort to better sell its portfolio of millennial-focused digital products to advertisers. It also added two new brands: Iris, a video and social brand developed from original programming on its video hub The Scene; and Lenny Letter, the feminist brand from Lena Dunham and Jennifer Konner.
As/Is joins BuzzFeed sub-brands Tasty, about food; Nifty, for the DIY-minded; Bring Me, about adventurous travel; and Goodful, a wellness brand. It's the first new site to arrive since BuzzFeed created the BuzzFeed Media Brands division in November, a move that was announced simultaneously with layoffs elswhere in the company as revenue came in short of predictions.
Beauty and style is a crowded marketplace for sure, but BuzzFeed plans to put its own spin on it by positioning As/Is as millennial women's non-judgy older sister. It will feature content that empowers women rather than tells them who they should be, says Laura Henderson, senior VP of marketing at BuzzFeed.
It's a relevant topic as the spotlight lingers on women's empowerment amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
"We want to change what the industry looks like and looks at," says Augusta Falletta, supervising producer for As/Is. "We want people to see themselves in this content and accept themselves in a way that hasn't been done in the past. If you are a woman who grew up reading antiquated magazines you probably have some thing you need to unpack."
Falletta points to using a wheelchair in a fashion editorial when the chair itself isn't the focus. "Normalization and representation is the best way to make strides in this industry."
The decision by BuzzFeed to focus on beauty and style for its next vertical comes from years of such content regularly placing among the top read posts and most-watched videos on BuzzFeed, Henderson says, pointing to the success of stories focusing on things like makeup hacks for girls with glasses.
BuzzFeed's verticals are among the fastest-growing part of its business. According to the company, in the two years since the food-centric Tasty launched, it has become a key driver of the commercial business and will be the biggest non-advertising source of BuzzFeed's revenue in 2018. In January, Tasty attracted 1.4 million unique vistors, according to ComScore.
Tasty has evolved from a collection of time-lapsed cooking videos to a commerce business with a cook book, cook top and most recently, a line of kitchen tools being sold at Walmart.
Similarly, Henderson says down the road As/Is could produce products in conjunction with other brands, pointing to products like Glamspin—a lip gloss in a fidget spinner—that BuzzFeed developed last year. The Glamspin was the best-selling product on Sephora.com for over a month, according to a BuzzFeed spokeswoman.
As/Is will feature several new original digital series, including "Close Up," a beauty profile series featuring celebrities and tastemakers; "Bogus Beauty," where a team of beauty experts investigate (and sometimes debunk) beauty and style mysteries; "Feed Famous," where aspiring social influencers will compete to become a social star; and the second season of "Ladylike," which covers the struggles and triumphs of being a woman.