WPP’s GroupM media company has struck a deal with digital news outfit BuzzFeed to enlist Buzz’s services in creating branded content for clients, in return for an advertising investment of ‘less than $100m.’ By comparison WPP spends about $100m on Twitter (which boss Sir Martin Sorrell has said he regards as a PR medium) and $3bn on ‘frenemy’ Google.
WPP isn’t taking a stake a BuzzFeed unlike Vice News, in which it is an investor.
It’s hard to know quite how important these tie-ups are. Havas struck one with branded content specialist NewsCred last year. There’s no doubt that content, content and more content is the way agencies are going these days and that sites like BuzzFeed and Vice are picking up huge audiences, mostly young.
But anyone can start an online news channel these days and it’s anyone’s guess which ones will last. As for the agencies so keen to offer up more branded content or native advertising choices to their clients, there’s not that much evidence so far that such initiatives have proved productive. We read about them a lot but examples seem thin on the ground.
BuzzFeed says teams from WPP will be offered a ‘creative residency.’ BuzzFeed has already been criticised for disguising ads as editorial.