BuzzMedia had more than 28 million monthly unique visitors across its 35-plus websites in April, good for 38th on comScore’s list of top U.S. web properties. Its pop culture, music and celebrity brands, including Celebuzz!, GoFugYourself, Absolute Punk and The Superficial, attract a higher composition of 18-34-year-old visitors than Facebook, the company claims.
The six-year-old, venture-funded BuzzMedia has built its business through an “amplified” publishing strategy: deliver a high volume of original and curated content in digestible chunks, go heavy on photos, slide shows, video and audio, and search- and social-optimize to the max to draw in and engage with its target millennials – and the marketers who covet them. The company became profitable last year, CEO CEO Tyler Goldman said in a phone interview.
Goldman believes the digital media audience mirrors traditional media – in other words, there’s a huge bell curve of interest around pop culture. Call this the anti-long tail approach to publishing, with sites dedicated to Kim Kardashian, celebrity news and gossip, indie music, and all things pop culture. BuzzMedia uses search and social to determine audience interests – and smothers those interests with content.
Brands matter a lot for both audience and advertisers – and BuzzMedia aspires to have the top brands in each of the categories and sub-categories in which it plays. The company is growing its portfolio by both building and buying, as evidenced by last week’s acquisition of XLR8R, a site that covers electronic dance music and culture.
“If someone’s doing something well, we will look to acquire them,” Goldman said.
BuzzMedia has built a network of vertically organized properties, each with its own editorial teams, but with a centralized production system that provides content sharing across websites. “We invest heavily in original content against the topics we cover, but we get economies of scale by using that content across a large number of our properties,” said Goldman.
The key is a home-grown content management system that lets editors distribute contextually relevant content across multiple websites. Goldman said the company built its own because existing content management systems weren’t designed for the scale that BuzzMedia aspires to.
BuzzMedia’s emphasis on scalable, contextual publishing extends to its advertising programs. “We are building out ad solutions that fit well within the context of the editorial,” said Goldman. “We want to make ads meaningful within the sites to give marketers a much better chance of engaging our audience.”
Ad programs include custom advertorial and sponsorships that are integrated closely with editorial. A current program with Toyota provides an exclusive sponsorship on the “Fast Forward” section of The Hype Machine, an aggregation site covering music. A branded page includes custom playlists that echo key innovation themes around Toyata’s Prius brand.
“We want our advertisers to be able to speak to the audience in the way they’re used to being spoken to,” said Goldman. “Their messages should be a part of the natural conversation.”