The Custom Content Council is hosting Custom Media Day on July 18 in NYC. Already announced speakers include BuzzFeed President, Jon Steinberg; Thrillist Media Group VP, Shane Rahmani; Ogilvy Entertainment Director Abby Marks; Marketing Strategist, Tim Washer; Reputation Institute Director, Rob Jekielek; and Schick Brand Director Brad Harrison. To introduce our audience to the scheduled speakers, we will be featuring them in brief interviews in the weeks ahead.
Today’s interview: BuzzFeed’s Jon Steinberg.
1. BuzzFeed’s recent custom content partnership with General Electric was an overwhelming success. What were the keys to its effectiveness?
GE creates great content that focuses on technology and innovation. It’s inherently interesting and shareable. Our platform enhances this shareability and also makes it more measurable- lets brands really see earned media. I’m most pleased with the work we’ve done together to measure Social Brand Lift, the impact on brand favorability that occurs when content is received via social (Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.). I think the study really proves out that social advertising is the best way for brands to spread their content.
2. BuzzFeed is well known for its list posts. Why are lists so valuable when it comes to customer engagement?
List posts are a great format for brands to provide interesting “content gifts” to their audience that blend in their own assets (images, videos, texts). We’ve even done a white paper on why lists work so well: http://www.buzzfeed.com/download/whitepaper
3. BuzzFeed has utilized a number of different techniques in its corporate partnerships, including video (GE Show: Factory Flyovers), gamification (Schick Xtreme3: Razorbombing Competition), and lists (Chevy: Transformers Smashing Things). How do you determine what form of custom content is best for each partner?
We start with the core message or theme the brand wants to convey and then look at their stories and assets (images, videos, articles). In many cases, the theme and idea is enough, and we don’t even need assets, as was the case for Schick. We start there and then we brainstorm with the client. We also try lots of posts and formats, allowing the best ideas to break away and the underperformers to fall to the wayside. Our system automatically optimizes and promotes in real time the posts that get the most sharing from the pool of the brand’s posts.
4. What is a “super sharer” and what role do they play in running a successful custom content campaign?
SuperSharers are the BuzzFeed audience. Nearly 80% of our users say they came to our site looking for content to share. This is before they even arrive at our site.
5. Out of all the custom content partnerships BuzzFeed has been a part of so far, which has been the most exciting?
The next one is always the most exciting to me. We’re always going to go beyond what we did last, and we’ve been lucky to have great brand partners and agencies that continue to push us. For example, I love the Pepsi Next partnership we launched [recently]. It lets users click Next to cycle thought the most viral and Pepsi content across the web.
Jon Steinberg is the President of BuzzFeed in NYC. He was previously Strategic Partner Development Manager on Google’s SMB (Small Medium Business) Partnerships team. Prior to Google, Jon was the Director of Business Development at Majestic Research and the founder of iBuilding, a commercial real estate software company backed by Tishman Speyer Properties, Benchmark Capital, and 12 Entrepreneuring. He is a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and holds an MBA from Columbia University. He lives with his wife and two little kids on the Upper East Side.