What to expect from a British BuzzFeed (as well as cats)
It is the only reliable source of information such as "33 Animals Who Are Extremely Disappointed In You" or "The 25 Most Awkward Cat Sleeping Positions". It's also, depending on your world view (and vulnerability to distraction) the sorry conclusion of a digital assault on journalism and our brains... or LOL brilliant.
Either way, BuzzFeed, the self-styled "first true social news organisation" is big business. It boasts 40 million visitors a month and has just announced more than £10m of funding to bolster its reported £12m annual income from an advertising model that is deeply unfashionable but which might actually make money. Rather than hide and apologise for ads, Buzzfeed creates them (for example, it presented "the 20 coolest hybrid animals" in conjunction with Toyota Prius).
The site is also expanding globally and plans to open a London outpost this year. Whatever it means for the future of online advertising models, what can those not already familiar with the site expect, content-wise?
Well, so much that these words very nearly didn't appear. BuzzFeed is nothing if not diverting. An afternoon spent in its feline clutches yesterday included minutes lost to a clip of a kitten taunting a pug. That led me to "20 Pug New Years Resolutions", contributed by one Hamilton Pug.
It's not all cats, lists and cat-based lists, however. BuzzFeed's "best of 2012" page includes a round-up of its top long reads, some of which agree with the traditional definition of journalism, including two stories about the US elections and an interview with the director Oliver Stone.
This mix of the dumb and the less-dumb makes the site a tricky enough proposition for equally hit-hungry rivals such as Mail Online and the Huffington Post, never mind traditional media. Both groups will watch the site's arrival in Britain as keenly as its visitors, who are evidently not concerned about the "featured partner" ad strategy (these replace the banner ads most websites feature but which we all too readily ignore).
For a final snapshot of this community last night, I consulted the "Hot on BuzzFeed" list. Top is "28 Signs Your Childhood Is Over" ahead of, among other stories, "Ryan Seacrest Fell Off A Boat" and, in lieu of cats: "19 Dogs You Need In 2013."
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