BuzzFeed, one of the Internet’s best-trafficked content destinations, is hoping politicians will turn to its site for voter outreach. The media brand just created a new position–vice president of politics and advocacy–that will oversee the creation of native political ads on BuzzFeed. Rena Shapiro, who will be filling the role, previously served as the director of political advertising at Pandora.
“BuzzFeed is the top place millennials and influentials are reading and sharing news, and with the smart and thoughtful reporting from BuzzFeed Politics, there is a huge demand for political and advocacy groups to tap into that audience,” Shapiro told Politico in a statement. “From our shareable videos to our social posts, there’s a massive opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”
BuzzFeed already experimented with native political advertising during the 2012 presidential election. Political advertising is a consistent moneymaker on the web, and is poised to become a significant revenue source during the 2016 election.
There’s big money to be made here, in part because online advertising can target narrow slices of the voting population. In BuzzFeed’s case, native ads could help candidates reach younger voters who don’t otherwise have regular exposure to TV spots and print advertising. As BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti told Re/code last month, the company’s video content currently receives a staggering portion of its traffic: 14% of BuzzFeed‘s overall traffic comes from YouTube video views, while 27% goes to BuzzFeed videos hosted directly on Facebook. Once you tally the video views that come from Snapchat, Facebook referrals, and direct site or app visits, the percentage is far higher.
In a statement, a Buzzfeed representative said that “We’ve invested a huge amount of resources in our news operation, growing our edit staff to 450 worldwide, with 190 reporters dedicated to news coverage around the globe. We’re approaching political coverage in a uniquely entertaining BuzzFeed way that’s attractive to our audience base. One example is our tried and true strategy of doing a straightforward, tough interview and then turn around and do a viral, goofy video. Examples: Obama interview and video, Ted Cruz interview and video, Carly Fiorina interview and video. Naturally, this is an audience we know candidates want to market to too.”
A report from research firm Borrell Associates estimates that $1 billion will be spent on digital advertising for politics in 2016; that number is expected to swell to more than $3 billion for the 2020 election.
Last month, BuzzFeed generated 4 billion page views, and had approximately 1.5 billion overall video views.