Recently, BuzzFeed wrote a story entitled “11 Things No One Wants To See You Instagram,” and over the next few weeks it grew into some sort of a phenomenon. It gained over 330,00 views, according to The Wall Street Journal, but these views were through Facebook and Twitter, and not the BuzzFeed site itself. The post also doubled as a sponsored story for Virgin Mobile, which warned about the dangers of sharing content online through unsecure sites. The point of the sponsored story was to drive traffic to Virgin Mobile’s sharing site, Virgin Mobile Live.
At BuzzFeed, Jonah Peretti is helping more advertisers tailer their messages as stories for specific audiences. Peretti said, “There’s a basic intuitive premise that the research is proving, which is that when you hear about a product because a friend shared something with you, that is more meaningful than if you see a paid ad.” BuzzFeed noted that ads on its site received about 40% more views from people sharing on social media. Additionally, readers are 10 to 20 times more likely to click the story ads than an average banner ad. Sponsored content is not a new trend, but BuzzFeed has made sharing these particular stories a vital part of their advertising model. In fact, the site has gotten rid of all traditional banner advertising.