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商业 - 科技

BuzzFeed首席执行官谈媒体的未来:互联网一定是赢家

财富中文网 2017年01月05日

乔纳·佩雷蒂表示社交行为已彻底改变媒体出版业。

不管外界如何看待BuzzFeed的内容和分发战略, BuzzFeed实际上已成全球领先的新媒体公司,号称多个平台上总用户数已超过50万。听听BuzzFeed首席执行官乔纳·佩雷蒂怎么看媒体业的未来是很有意思的。

科技博客Recode刊登了一份发给BuzzFeed员工的备忘录,透露了不少有意思的细节,包括该公司的财务状况。佩雷蒂在信中表示,今年BuzzFeed收入增长超过65%,超过六年保持两位数增长率。

对媒体公司来说这是很了不起的成绩,尤其是采用全新分发模式的创业公司。其实一开始BuzzFeed只是赫芬顿邮报联合创始人佩雷蒂的研究项目。

今年早些时候,有报道称BuzzFeed在2015年没达到收入目标。英国《金融时报》称其收入仅为1.7亿美元,而不是2.5亿美元,而且内部将2016年的收入预测由5亿美元“大幅削减”至2.5亿美元。

BuzzFeed总裁肯·莱勒否认了该报道,他表示2016年的收入预测没有变化,不过并没提到2015年是不是没达到预期。

“行业里没出现大动荡,发展势头非常好,” BuzzFeed的投资人之一莱勒告诉Recode。“只是发展方式跟过去不一样了。要成功就要张开双眼意识到当前形势的不同,然后充分利用。”

佩雷蒂在信中强调的核心也正是互联网导致的媒体行业变动。简要地说,答案就是社交媒体崛起以及分发渠道民主化,用户可以在传播过程中发挥重要作用,与传统媒体发展早期截然不同。

佩雷蒂可能是全世界在病毒传播上花时间最多的人,他用一系列图表描述了整个过程。

第一张图是传统的单向传播模式,媒体公司向用户发布信息,没有加工也没有任何反馈。第二张图是早期电子发行模式,看起来跟第一张差不多,不过参与者多一些。但是反馈还是很少,与用户也几乎没有互动。

Regardless of what you think of its content or publishing strategies, BuzzFeed is one of the world’s leading new media entities, with what the company says is a total audience of more than half a billion people across multiple platforms. So it’s always interesting to hear from BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti about what the future holds for media.

A memo to BuzzFeed staff that was published at Recode contains a number of interesting elements, including a previously unreleased statistic about the company’s financial health. According to Peretti’s letter, BuzzFeed’s revenue grew by more than 65% this year, which he said continues a trend of more than six years of double-digit revenue growth.

That’s a remarkable track record for a media company—let alone one based on an entirely new model of publishing, a company that initially began as a kind of research project for Peretti, a co-founder of The Huffington Post.

Earlier this year, there were reports that BuzzFeed had missed its revenue targets for 2015. The Financial Times said the company had made only $170 million instead of $250 million, and that it had “slashed its internal projections” for 2016 to $250 million from $500 million.

These reports were denied by BuzzFeed chairman Ken Lerer, however, who said forecasts for 2016 had not changed, although he didn’t say whether the company had missed its projections for 2015.

“There’s nothing cratering in the industry. It’s better than ever,” Lerer, who is also an investor in BuzzFeed, told Recode at the time. “It’s just different. And if you want to succeed, you have to open your eyes and realize how it’s different, and take advantage of it.”

Realizing how the industry is different as a result of the Internet is the core of Peretti’s letter. The answer, in a nutshell, is that it is different because social media and the democratization of publishing allow users to play a role in the process that is unlike anything else we have seen since the earliest days of traditional media.

Peretti, who has probably spent more time trying to understand the viral spread of Internet content than just about anyone else in the world, describes this process in a series of graphs.

The first graph shows traditional publishing as a one-way exercise in which media companies distribute content to users, with zero input or feedback of any kind. A second graph representing the early days of digital publishing looks very similar, although the number of players has grown. But still, very little feedback or interaction with users.

 

佩雷蒂表示,下一阶段是公司发现可以从用户处获得更多数据,了解用户在做什么,用户来自哪里等等。类似YouTube和Netflix的新媒体公司都发现有了数据就能掌握“关键竞争力,”他表示。

他认为最大的革新是将所有过程里加入社交行为。在此之前,全行业“一直将观众当成独立个体的集合”。但有了社交媒体人们就可以分享内容,也就能理解(至少是努力理解)用户在做什么。佩雷蒂是这么解释的:

分享行为最能看出媒体生产的内容如何加强人际社交关系。所以媒体从业者都很在意‘转发语’,也就是用户转发时加的点评。所以我们会仔细研究分享行为中价值的交流:对分享者来说有什么价值?对转发对象来说又有什么价值?

他认为理解分发中的新要素至关重要。但互联网出现之前,很多媒体公司从来没想过这个问题。媒体总是假定观众会喜欢某种类型的内容,虽然一点证据也没有。也从不在意互动。

不过BuzzFeed的首席执行官先生在信中忽略了一些内容,包括因依赖Facebook等平台的“分发内容”战略导致收入和利润的变化等。

举例来说,目前并不清楚BuzzFeed调整目标是不是因为向视频投入更多时间和资源,包括最近调整公司结构以增加视频内容。视频到底能不能赚钱还是未知数,部分原因是Facebook的变现战略尚未明确。

不过佩雷蒂表示有件事是确定的:不管当前的媒体公司怎么变,也不管过程多长,最终的赢家一定是互联网。他是这么说的:

本公司做决策时一向以互联网为重心,一方面因为我们热爱互联网,另一方面是这样才能制定出最佳商业策略。模拟印刷和广播还要过几十年才会衰退,电视在未来很多年里还是能赚很多钱,但长期来看互联网一定是赢家。只要眼光够长远,互联网一定会赢。

不过他口中的“赢”到底包括哪些内容?是不是BuzzFeed之类新媒体公司是唯一的希望?现存的媒体公司有没有可能适应变化,找出生存之道甚至东山再起?佩雷蒂没有明说。或许以后的备忘录里能找到答案。(财富中文网)

作者:Mathew Ingram

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

The next phase, Peretti says, came when companies realized they could get data from their users and understand more about what they were doing, where they were coming from, etc. New media enterprises like YouTube GOOG 0.27% and Netflix NFLX -0.26% realized that data gave them “a key competitive advantage,” he says.

The final revolution, he argues, came when social behavior was added to the mix. Until then, the industry was “still thinking of audiences as a collection of isolated individuals.” With social media, it became possible to see people sharing content, and to understand (or at least try to understand) why they were doing so. As Peretti puts it:

Sharing is the clearest metric for showing that media is creating a social connection between people. It is why we obsess about ‘share statements,’ or what people say when they share our content. It explains why we carefully study the exchange of value that occurs when sharing happens: What is the value for the person who shares? What is the value for the person who receives?

Understanding these new elements of publishing is critical, he argues. But it’s not really something that many media companies thought about all that carefully prior to the Internet. It was just assumed that audiences would want certain types of content, even if there was no evidence to prove it. And interaction was virtually non-existent.

There are a number of things the BuzzFeed CEO doesn’t really get into in his letter, including how the site’s revenue and profitability is changing as a result of its reliance on platforms such as Facebook FB -0.13% for its “distributed content” strategy.

For example, it’s not clear whether the site is shifting its goals because it is devoting more time and resources to video, including a recent restructuring of the company aimed at producing more video content. The ability to make money from all that video remains a question mark, in part because Facebook’s monetization strategy is still unclear.

Peretti says one thing is clear, however: That regardless of what happens to existing media entities, or how long the process takes, the Internet will ultimately win. As he describes it:

As a company, we’ve continually made decisions embracing the internet, both because we love it and because it is the best business strategy. It will take decades for analog print and broadcast to decline, and TV will continue to be very profitable for many years, but in the long run, the internet will win. In the long run, the internet always wins.

And of what exactly does “winning” consist? Does it mean that entirely new media entities like BuzzFeed are the only hope, or is it possible for existing ones to adapt and figure out how to survive or even prosper? Peretti doesn’t say. Perhaps the answer will be in a future memo.


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