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Inside the evolution of BuzzFeed’s creators program



Inside the evolution of BuzzFeed’s creators program

This article is part of a cross-brand Digiday Media series that examines how the creator economy has evolved amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Explore the full series here.

BuzzFeed has invested in a program for creators for years. This year the company plans to double how many people are participating in it.

BuzzFeed’s creators program was established four years ago to lean on its fan base of Very Online Readers ™ to stay relevant with trends as they were creating them. It has since used that mindset to establish brand agreements that have led to larger deals with BuzzFeed’s recurring advertisers as well as new clients that helped to cement its position as a publisher-led quasi creative agency.

Now, facing an industry wave of new interest in working with creators, BuzzFeed is rebranding its creator program as it eyes fresh opportunities to work with brands and influencers to connect content with avid fan bases. To do so, it’s renaming its creators program to Catalyst, to incorporate the roster of creators and talent at both BuzzFeed and its recently-acquired Complex Networks.

How it was built

The program was first formed to “broaden the way our internal employees could work at BuzzFeed,” said Andrea Mazey, BuzzFeed’s vp of creator and talent partnerships. That meant giving employees opportunities to experiment with the types of content — video, in particular — that its audience wanted to see. It was how its food vertical Tasty really came to life after experiments with top-down videos led leadership to embrace the format. At first, with a focus on YouTube, and then on Facebook.

The same is happening now with short-form videos. As the format has grown in popularity with the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, so has its importance for BuzzFeed’s creator program.

Now, roughly half of the content produced from the program is short-form video, Mazey said. And the team’s expansion reflects that need, too. In the past two years, the program has added more talent specializing in shorter video formats, she added, such as those with expertise in creating Reels and TikToks.

“We want to have our programs reflect what the creator space at large looks like,” Mazey said.

The growing creator economy

The creator space is seeing notable interest as of late. An estimated 72.5% of U.S. marketers will use influencer marketing for paid or unpaid campaigns in 2022, up from 55.4% in 2019, according to an eMarketer report published last May. The “Influencer Marketing Benchmark Report” published last year found influencer marketing has grown from $9.7 billion in 2020 to an estimated $13.8 billion in 2021.

BuzzFeed hopes to add to that growth — the creators program had over 100 branded content deals in 2021, up from 65 in 2019. BuzzFeed declined to say how much revenue it brought in with the program. 

“Influencers are a critical part of the entire marketing funnel — with platforms’ push for in-app shopping, influencers aren’t just an awareness play but brands can leverage them as a lucrative purchase driver,” said Katherine Saxon, vp, content director at ad agency Digitas.

BuzzFeed’s creators program brings together the advertiser, the creator and the BuzzFeed brand. BuzzFeed declined to share the cut it takes from each brand deal featuring a creator. But the opportunity allows brands to reach BuzzFeed’s audience and access the publisher’s alignment with brand suitability.

BuzzFeed has also prioritized building relationships with the creator community, reducing some of the challenges with working with creators, which can range from issues of consistency, communication, timelines and backing out mid-contract. “BuzzFeed will probably vet and do their due diligence to make sure [the creator is] appropriate for the brands,” said Jay Powell, svp of influencer & communications at media agency MMI.

Having that many cooks in the proverbial Tasty kitchen could complicate the content’s ownership and rights, said Alexandra J. Roberts, a professor at the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law who specializes in trademark and false advertising law and entertainment law. Because BuzzFeed is “not a silent agency no one’s aware of, but a well-known brand,” it’s important for BuzzFeed to clearly label its branded content when working with creators, she said.

And for BuzzFeed, that gray area of how much a creator gets paid for their work depends on a range of factors, such as whether the project is a one-off or part of a BuzzFeed franchise or show, Mazey said. BuzzFeed’s creators program now has about 100 creators, up from the 12 it started with in 2018, and 36 creators in 2019. The program varies per creator as it pertains to financial compensation and contract terms.

The program has a mix of staffers who are full-time BuzzFeed staff (representing about a third of those in the program), freelance contributors, past BuzzFeed employees and external talent from TikTok, YouTube and other social platforms, as well as celebrities like chef and TV personality Marcus Samuelsson. Mazey did not provide a specific breakdown of how many creators fall into these different categories, due to the fluidity of the way people move in and out of the program to contribute to specific branded and editorial content. Some creators only work on branded partnerships, while others are fully integrated into BuzzFeed’s editorial strategies, Mazey said. 

Take Alix Traeger, who joined the creators program in 2018 when she was a producer at Tasty. After gaining experience pitching to brands directly, she quit her full-time job at Tasty to become a freelancer. Now one of BuzzFeed’s external creators with over 370,000 followers on Instagram and over 730,000 followers on TikTok, Traeger does a mix of “bigger” brand deals with Tasty and “smaller-scale” deals she lands on her own. Most of Traeger’s work is now on TikTok. Her live videos are part of a year-long deal in which BuzzFeed airs weekly live video series, with sponsors secured by TikTok.

“With Tasty, I’ve been able to work with some huge brands that I might not have been able to work with otherwise,” Traeger said. She’s worked with brands like Oscar Mayer and Albertsons. Pitching on her own to brands, in comparison, “can be difficult,” Traeger said. Branded content deals are the bulk of her income, too. A June 2021 report by CB Insights found 77% of creators’ revenue comes from brand deals. 

BuzzFeed declined to share how much money creators in the program stand to make from deals with brands. Creators’ pay varies depending on the project — including factors such as the length of the video, the number of assets, the type of content and the number of social posts — as well as the size of the creator’s audience, Mazey said.

There is some semblance of protection afforded the pivotable team: recent layoffs at BuzzFeed Inc. primarily impacted “redundancies” in the admin and business sides of BuzzFeed and Complex Networks (which the company acquired last year), such as in sales and legal, a BuzzFeed spokesperson said. About a half dozen were impacted on the content side, at both brands, due to the company putting a heavier focus on vertical video. Because creators at BuzzFeed are producing more short-form, vertical video, the spokesperson said this will be an area of growth rather than a part of the business to shrink. The creators program was not affected by the layoffs, they said.

MMI’s Powell said creator compensation packages can range anywhere from $500 to over $100,000 for a single TikTok or Instagram Reel. Compensation can go up from there for longer-form video content, such as a YouTube video. Some of the main factors that drive rates, Powell said, include coverage commitments, content format (such as videos or stills), exclusivity terms, usage rights and turnaround time. An “expedited timeline” could double or triple the fee a creator charges, Powell said.

BuzzFeed’s creator program has led to partnerships between creators and brands including Samsung and TurboTax.

As the creators program has developed over the years, it’s become “more and more flexible with the way we work with creators… and the types of creators we work with too,” Mazey said. This year, BuzzFeed is looking to add influencers into the program who are creating content around DIY cleaning and parenting. As well as bring Complex Networks’ creators into the fold.

“We’re thinking about all the different ways to scale and to partner across a wider universe of creators,” Mazey said. “We already have talked about a lot of fun ideas.”

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AMD CEO says 5-nm Zen 4 processors coming this fall



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Advanced Micro Devices revealed its 5-nanometer Zen 4 processor architecture today at the Computex 2022 event in Taiwan.

The new AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors with Zen 4 cores will be coming this fall, said Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, in a keynote speech.

Su said the new processors with Zen 4 architecture will deliver a significant increase in performance upon their launch in the fall of 2022. Additionally, Su highlighted the strong growth and momentum for AMD in the mobile market as 70 of the more than 200 expected ultrathin, gaming and commercial notebook designs powered by Ryzen 6000 Series processors have been launched or announced to-date.

In addition, other AMD executives announced the newest addition to the Ryzen Mobile lineup, “Mendocino;” the newest AMD smart technology, SmartAccess Storage; and more details of the new AM5 platform, including support from leading motherboard manufacturers.

“At Computex 2022 we highlighted growing adoption of AMD in ultrathin, gaming, and commercial notebooks from the leading PC providers based on the leadership performance and battery life of our Ryzen 6000 series mobile processors,” said Su. “With our upcoming AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors, we will bring even more leadership to the desktop market with our next-generation 5-nm Zen 4 architecture and provide an unparalleled, high-

performance computing experience for gamers and creators.”

AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors

The new Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors will double the amount of L2 cache per core, feature higher clock speeds, and are projected to provide greater than 15% uplift in single-thread performance versus the prior generation, for a better desktop PC experience.

During the keynote, a pre-production Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processor was demonstrated running at 5.5 GHz clock speed throughout AAA game play. The same processor was also demonstrated performing more than 30% faster than an Intel Core i9 12900K in a Blender multi-threaded rendering workload.

In addition to new “Zen 4” compute dies, the Ryzen 7000 series features an all-new 6nm I/O die. The new I/O die includes AMD RDNA 2-based graphics engine, a new low-power architecture adopted from AMD Ryzen mobile processors, support for the latest memory and connectivity technologies like DDR5 and PCI Express 5.0, and support for up to four displays.

AMD Socket AM5 Platform

The new AMD Socket AM5 platform provides advanced connectivity for our most demanding enthusiasts. This new socket features a 1718-pin LGA design with support for up to 170W TDP processors, dual-channel DDR5 memory, and new SVI3 power infrastructure for leading all-core performance with our Ryzen 7000 Series processors. AMD Socket AM5 features the most PCIe 5.0 lanes in the industry with up to 24 lanes, making it our fastest, largest, and most expansive desktop platform with support for the next-generation and beyond class of storage and graphics cards.

And AMD said the “Mendocino” processors will offer great everyday performance and are expected to be priced from $400 to $700.

Featuring “Zen 2” cores and RDNA 2 architecture-based graphics, the processors are designed to deliver the best battery life and performance in the price band so users can get the most out of their laptop at an attractive price.

The first systems featuring the new “Mendocino” processors will be available from computer partners in Q4 2022.

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AMD’s Ryzen 7000 desktop chips are coming this fall with 5nm Zen 4 cores



AMD’s Ryzen 7000 desktop chips are coming this fall with 5nm Zen 4 cores

AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 chips will mark another major milestone for the company: they’ll be the first desktop processors running 5 nanometer cores. During her Computex keynote presentation today, AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed that Ryzen 7000 chips will launch this fall. Under the hood, they’ll feature dual 5nm Zen 4 cores, as well as a redesigned 6nm I/O core (which includes RDNA2 graphics, DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 controllers and a low-power architecture). Earlier this month, the company teased its plans for high-end “Dragon Range” Ryzen 7000 laptop chips, which are expected to launch in 2023.

Since this is just a Computex glimpse, AMD isn’t giving us many other details about the Ryzen 7000 yet. The company says it will offer a 15 percent performance jump in Cinebench’s single-threaded benchmark compared to the Ryzen 5950X. Still, it’d be more interesting to hear about multi-threaded performance, especially given the progress Intel has made with its 12th-gen CPUs. You can expect 1MB of L2 cache per core, as well as maximum boost speeds beyond 5GHz and better hardware acceleration for AI tasks.

AMD is also debuting Socket AM5 motherboards alongside its new flagship processor. The company is moving towards a 1718-pin LGA socket, but it will still support AM4 coolers. That’s a big deal if you’ve already invested a ton into your cooling setup. The new motherboards will offer up to 24 channels of PCIe 5.0 split across storage and graphics, up to 14 USB SuperSpeed ports running at 20 Gbps, and up to 4 HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2 ports. You’ll find them in three different flavors: B650 for mainstream systems, X650 for enthusiasts who want PCIe 5.0 for storage and graphics and X650 Extreme for the most demanding folks.

Given that Intel still won’t have a 7nm desktop chip until next year (barring any additional delays), AMD seems poised to once again take the performance lead for another generation. But given just how well Intel’s hybrid process for its 12th-gen chips has worked out, it’ll be interesting to see how it plans to respond. If anything, it sure is nice to see genuine competition in the CPU space again.

While Ryzen 7000 will be AMD’s main focus for the rest of the year, the company is also throwing a bone to mainstream laptops in the fourth quarter with its upcoming 6nm “Mendocino” CPUs. They’ll sport four 6nm Zen 2 cores, as well as RDNA 2 graphics, making them ideal for systems priced between $399 and $699. Sure, that’s not much to get excited about, but even basic machines like Lenovo’s Ideapad 1 deserve decent performance. And for many office drones, it could mean having work-issued machines that finally don’t stink.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Disney’s Disney+ ad pitch reflects how streaming ad prices set to rise in this year’s upfront



Disney’s Disney+ ad pitch reflects how streaming ad prices set to rise in this year’s upfront

With Disney+, Disney is looking to set a new high-water mark for ad prices among the major ad-supported streamers. The pricey pitch is representative of a broader rising tide in streaming ad pricing in this year’s TV advertising upfront market, as Disney-owned Hulu, Amazon and even Fox’s Tubi are looking to press upfront advertisers to pay up.

In its initial pitch to advertisers and their agencies, Disney is seeking CPMs for Disney+ around $50, according to agency executives. That price point applies to broad-based targeting dubbed “P2+,” which refers to an audience of any viewer who is two years old or older (though Disney has told agency executives that programming aimed at viewers seven years old and younger will be excluded from carrying ads). In other words, more narrowly targeted ads are expected to cost more based on the level of targeting. A Disney spokesperson declined to comment.

At a $50 CPM, Disney+ is surpassing the prices that NBCUniversal’s Peacock  and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max sought in last year’s upfront market and that gave ad buyers sticker shock. The former sought CPMs in the $30 to $40 range, while the latter sought $40+ CPMs. By comparison, other major ad-supported streamers like Hulu, Discovery+ and Paramount+ were charging low-to-mid $20 CPMs that major ad-supported streamers charge. As a result, Peacock’s and HBO Max’s asks ended up being price prohibitive, with some advertisers limiting the amount of money they spent with the streamers because of their higher rates.

Unsurprisingly, agency executives are balking at Disney+’s price point. “They’re citing pricing that no longer exists, meaning Peacock and HBO Max recognized they came out too high and they’re reducing it. Disney+ is using earmuffs to pretend that second part didn’t happen,” said one agency executive.

However, Disney+ isn’t the only streamer seeking to raise the rates that ad buyers are accustomed to paying. Hulu is also seeking to increase its prices in this year’s upfront, with P2+ pricing going from a $20-$25 CPM average to averaging in the $25-$30 CPM range, according to agency executives. And during a call with reporters on May 16, Fox advertising sales president Marianne Gambelli said that the company will seek higher prices for its free, ad-supported streaming TV service Tubi in this year’s upfront market. It’s unclear what Tubi’s current rates are, but FAST services’ CPMS are typically in the low to mid teens, said the agency executives.

“We have to get the value for Tubi. Tubi has grown to a point — it’s doubled, tripled in size over the past couple of years. So we are going to obviously make that a priority and look for not only more volume but price,” Gambelli said.

Meanwhile, in pitching its Thursday Night Football package that will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch, Amazon has been pressing for a premium on what Fox charged advertisers last year, according to agency executives. The e-commerce giant will be handling the games’ ad placements like traditional TV, meaning that it will run the same ad in each ad slot for every viewer as opposed to dynamically inserting targeted ads. “It’s streaming broadcast,” said a second agency executive.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on pricing but did provide a general statement. “Thursday Night Football on Prime Video and Twitch is a purely digital broadcast, and we’re excited to bring fans a new viewing experience. There are 80MM active Prime Video households in the U.S. and, in a survey of our 2021 TNF audience, 38% reported they don’t have a pay-TV service – meaning TNF on Prime Video and Twitch enables brands to connect with cord-cutters and cord-nevers. Brands can also reach these viewers beyond TNF. Our first-party insights enable them to reengage TNF audiences across Amazon, such as in Freevee content.”

One of the agency executives that Digiday spoke to said the latest ask is for a plus-10% increase on Fox’s rates, though what Fox’s rates were are unclear and other agency executives said the premium that Amazon is asking for varies. Ad Age reported in February that Amazon was seeking up to 20% higher prices than Fox’s rates. “I don’t know if it is consistently plus-10, but it is definitely more. Which is crazy because Fox couldn’t make money on it, which is why they gave it up for this fall,” said a second agency executive.

“Someone was eating way too many gummies before they put the pricing together,” said a second agency executive of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football pitch.

Ad-supported streaming service owners also see an opportunity to push for higher prices as advertisers to adopt more advanced targeting with their streaming campaigns, such as by using the media companies’ and/or advertisers’ first-party data to aim their ads on the streamers. 

Said one TV network executive, “You’ll see premiums, especially as it relates to advertisers that really want to hook into [their company’s streaming service] and buy those targeted audiences across the platform and either use [the TV network’s] first-party data or bring their own data to the table. That’s the biggest business we’re in, and that’s where we see great growth from a pricing standpoint.”


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