How Advertisers are “Buzzing” Through BuzzFeed

Open up your Facebook newsfeed. In scrolling down the page, the amount of BuzzFeed articles, quizzes, and news stories shared by your friends may often cover your entire newsfeed. Yes, it is true the articles are fun and entertaining, but a majority have a different sponsor than you may have in mind. According to Adweek, “If it’s a great piece of content, not only will it not matter if it’s an advertisement, they’ll appreciate it as a brand.” In this way, BuzzFeed has taken product placement and native advertising to a new level in the social media sphere.

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By positioning brands and products as organic, everyday content instead of advertisements, BuzzFeed masters blurring the line between entertainment and advertisement. According to Walter Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm Theory, “People are storytelling animals; almost all forms of human communication are fundamentally narrative. Listeners judge a story by whether it hangs together and rings true with the values of an ideal audience.” This can be seen in BuzzFeed’s partnership with Purina in their “Dear Kitten” video. Not considered a commercial, BuzzFeed and Purina outline a narrative between the senior “cat of the house” and a newly acquired kitten. With the simplicity of embedding Purina’s Friskies can and mealtime within the bond of the two felines, a heart-warming story unfolds around the product. This use of a narrative and values through product placement, cat owners and pet lovers alike have fallen in love with the journey of a new kitten.

In addition to Purina, brands such as Tide, Target, Dove, and Michael Kors have caught on to the positive benefits of subtle product placement through BuzzFeed articles and videos. In the ever-changing digital landscape, a “brand-lift” without blatantly obvious logos and advertising is being seen as a timely way for companies to reach multiple online audiences without over-stepping their boundaries. With BuzzFeed being the second most viral hit factory on the web, corporations are beginning to understand the sheer importance of catching and maintaining an audience’s interest through the community site, especially when they least expect it.

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– Angelica DiPaolo and Rachel White

12 thoughts on “How Advertisers are “Buzzing” Through BuzzFeed

  1. I found this blog post fascinating. I see buzz feed posts all of the time and I often participate in them. Never once did I think that this was a form of advertising. This blog post opened my eyes to how often I am exposed to advertising and how blind I am to it. It has become something of the norm. I hardly ever notice it now.

    • Taylor,

      Thank you for your comment! This newer form of advertising is a growing way to get the brand out there without bombarding the audience with obvious ads that drive us crazy! I am glad this post could offer you new insight on how advertising is constantly evolving.

      -Angelica DiPaolo

  2. This blog was so eye-opening. Buzz feed is quick entertainment and I’m such a sucker for the quizzes and entertainment bits that I find scrolling down my Facebook timeline. I totally haven’t even picked up on the advertisements that are in them. They’re so subtle that it doesn’t even look like they’re trying so time. I definitely went back to Facebook and started clicking on posts just to start looking for it now!

    • Hi Kendall,

      Thanks for your comment! Prior to learning more about the world of advertising, I did not realize the strides they’ve taken to make what they post blur so well into other content. I agree that they’re extremely subtle as well, and I’m glad this new insight has gotten you involved in trying to find other hidden ads!

      -Angelica DiPaolo

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I had honestly never thought about Buzzfeed as advertising. I have noticed the messages at the bottom of various articles saying things like, “brought to you by” but I never thought it was anything more than that. After reading this article, I started thinking about Buzzfeed articles I have read and videos I have seen and it really made me think! I will never look at Buzzfeed the same way again!

    • Kaitlyn,

      This newly acquired information was something that really opened my eyes as well! I think it is so interesting how advertisers are now trying to better blend their messages into other content. As opposed to pop-up ads that we all tend to ignore because they get in the way of what we’re doing that moment on the internet, BuzzFeed makes it so we are still entertained while the advertising message is still generated.

      -Angelica DiPaolo

  4. I think this has become an important way of advertising. Especially because the consumers do not realize it is an actual advertisement. The context of buzz feed posts is entertaining and fun to see, read or watch, while the actual purpose of the brand is sending a message and creating their image. It has changed social media, first is was about socializing and now it is more about funny videos and buzz feed posts shared by your friends.

    • Eva,

      You have some really great points! I think this new and evolving process advertisers are now utilizing to create ads is smart on their part. It is a way to get their message out while integrating entertaining content in order to create a less obvious and more effective ad.

      -Angelica DiPaolo

  5. I think the way BuzzFeed incorporates different advertisements in it’s post is very effective. I am on BuzzFeed frequently and I have never felt overwhelmed with advertisements like I do with websites like Youtube.I have stopped using certain websites because of how obnoxious the ads were so I think this style of advertising could be really beneficial for other websites.

  6. I thought this blog post was very interesting and well-written. Yet, I have to say I am not shocked by what it’s saying. Product placement has been used and abused for as long as I’ve been alive, and even longer than that. It is very obvious when movies and tv shows are plugging a product, like in the case of Vitaminwater and Gossip girl. I believe the thing that’s so great about Buzzfeed is that they know they are advertising and they know the audience is aware of it. Instead of trying to blend in these articles in or pretend they are there by pure coincidence, Buzzfeed is posting them side by side with the rest of their content, as if it is all of equal value. Both their main page and the side tabs are a mix of ads and Buzzfeed content. The ads are even tagged and sometimes color coded. As opposed to sites like Facebook that try to covertly advertise by showing ads for items I’ve recently googled or shopped for on the far right of my screen, which is creepy. I appreciate that Buzzfeed recognizes that I know what they are doing and are upfront about it.

  7. I have always noticed the ads on buzzfeed and never really took a moment to think about how differently they are displayed as opposed to other viral websites. The ads are not obtrusive on the page instead, they are displayed just like any other article or story on the site. Buzzfeed may be the first of many sites to go this route with advertising, but it surely will not be the last.

  8. I love this post because to me it is the most interesting aspect of advertising in our day and age. This type of product placement and way of generating “buzz” is what really brought me to IMC. This post epitomizes the study for me. On previous blog posts I have discussed the fact that when thinking about what I buy I do not typically find myself purchasing products based on commercials I have seen. But, I realized that I unknowingly due this and I believe it is due to advertisements like these that are entertaining and subtly advertising. Great post.

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