By now, you've undoubtedly stumbled upon at least a post or two over at BuzzFeed, the Internet's hub for kitten gifs and viral videos (and a lot of actual journalism). This month, New York magazine peels the curtain back on BuzzFeed's Oz, Jonah Peretti. Back in '01, Peretti saught to decipher what made something go viral. A full 17,405,285,302,294 "Harlem Shake" videos later, NYMag examines Peretti's baby, born out of procrastination, a Nike/sweatshop joke and a subsequent challenge.
BuzzFeed’s model, known in the industry as “native advertising,” has caused some trepidation among traditional ad agencies, which see its potential to cut out their intermediary role. It’s also the sort of intermingling of editorial content and business—“church and state”—that used to be considered heretical at any respectable journalism institution. But times change, revenue streams dry up, and now other publishers are watching with desperate interest. Prestigious publications like The Atlantic and the Washington Post are playing with strategies similar to BuzzFeed’s. Like a joyful scourge, Peretti is simultaneously fanning the flames that are disrupting the old media business model and promising that he has constructed a new, lucrative one.
If you have any interest at all in figuring out what creates virality and how technological word of mouth is evolving through social media, spend 10 minutes reading up on Peretti's mission and results. It'll give you something to think about the next time you lose an afternoon to watching videos of puppies playing with doorstops. [NYMag]