How BuzzFeed Mastered Affiliate Marketing

It all starts with a social media post. A light-hearted but intriguing headline.

Buzzfeed Affiliate Marketing 1

I click on it. You click on it. We all click on it.

And just like that, we’re sucked in. Mindlessly scrolling through products we don’t need, nor will likely ever need.

Buzzfeed Affiliate Marketing 2

But, there’s promising reviews and everything we need to know about the product is right there, readily available for us to consume.

Next thing you know….we’re clicking the link to buy.

BuzzFeed Affiliate Marketing 3

That’s the power of affiliate marketing on Buzzfeed.

In this article, we’ll look at how BuzzFeed mastered affiliate marketing and became one of the most effective marketing channels for mega e-commerce retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

What is BuzzFeed?

BuzzFeed.com is a digital media company focused on viral content. This includes content like articles, quizzes, and videos, based around human-interest & pop culture topics.

The site is most known for their “Listicles”. The term may be unfamiliar, it’s likely that you know what it is — content that is part article and part list. Think of any articles like “6 Reasons to Go To Aruba” or “The 10 Things You Need For Winter”.

That’s BuzzFeed.

And the content strategy has worked pretty well for them, with a global audience over 520 million and 3+ billion content views a month.

BuzzFeed’s Affiliate Marketing Strategy

A majority of BuzzFeed posts have a small bit, squeezed in between the title, author and article itself.

“We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.”

Affiliate links play a significant part in BuzzFeed’s overall strategy
Last year, BuzzFeed drove more than $425M in directly attributable transactions.

But looking beyond being a source of revenue, BuzzFeed cofounder says this is a way to change the entire marketing ecosystem.

“The two most important players in this chain are the publisher who inspired a consumer to take action and the companies that actually deliver the product. But most of the profit is captured by digital middlemen who didn’t create much value”.

This strategy emphasizes the benefits of affiliate marketing like:

  • Directly connecting the consumer to the company
  • Being an alternative costs of advertising on Google & Facebook
  • Creating content that has value and engages audiences

BuzzFeed Content & Affiliate Marketing

The content from BuzzFeed has proven to be particularly effective for affiliate marketing.

Rather than just showing the product and providing a link, the site has become experts in developing unique content with affiliate promotions weaved in.

A key aspect is that BuzzFeed’s content helps readers learn something. Although sometimes trivial, the content is informative, and also interesting.

They know audiences aren’t interested in an article about home loans – but would be drawn to titles like “10 Ways To Trick Yourself Into Saving Money”. Using memes and one-liners, this article is an easy read for audiences, all while still including a pitch for how Bank of America can help with finances.

Buzzfeed also creates content that is engaging.

This is particularly true for Buzzfeed Quizzes. With nearly 8 quizzes being posted every single day, the content has kept users hooked. So much so that 96% of users who start BuzzFeed quizzes actually finish them.

With affiliate promotions being strategically placed within the quiz, this content not only engages audiences — it also builds brand awareness and directly leads users to buying the products they selected throughout the quiz.

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The viral-style content makes it easy for readers to share and reshare on social media. And with the captivating (but arguably clickbait) headlines, it’s even easier to click on.

After all, who can go without knowing “What Type of Toast Are You?”.

Examples of Buzzfeed’s Affiliate Promotions

BuzzFeed has been able to draw in huge brands for affiliate promotions, ranging from finance like American Express & Bank of America to automotive like Volkswagen & Toyota and everyday fashion like H&M and Kohls.

The site has even made dedicated partnerships through their Tasty cooking video series with Walmart. The partnership will involve creating content around recipes featuring ingredients that can be purchased with Walmart Online Grocery shopping.

But above all, the biggest brand presence on BuzzFeed comes from the biggest e-commerce retailer: Amazon.

Amazon & BuzzFeed
Amazon products have become a fixture in BuzzFeed’s content, even having their own dedicated tabs and shopping features that drive customers to buy via affiliate links.

The presence was most evident though on Amazon Prime Day. For the big sale, Amazon completely took over the site with an enormous amount of content being Prime Day-specific listicles to ramp up traffic for BuzzFeed’s shopping page.

Buzzfeed Prime Day

By experimenting with content in the weeks leading up to Prime Day, BuzzFeed was able to optimize their content strategy and focus on promoting high-converting products — and this resulted in huge numbers, having over 904k+ content clicks in 2 days.

Now, BuzzFeed alone is a top-five referrer of traffic to Amazon, according to SimilarWeb.

Takeaways from BuzzFeed

Self-reported insights showed that BuzzFeed’s commerce business, which includes affiliate links and product licensing, has grown to 21% of its total revenue in the past year from 9% in previous years.

On top of that, BuzzFeed has expanded its affiliate business to countries Japan, Australia, the U.K., Canada, Mexico, Brazil and India. Expanding globally gives more opportunities for BuzzFeed to promote international brands and reach larger audiences.

BuzzFeed’s growing affiliate strategy — combined with the vested interest of big name brands — gives the clear message that affiliate marketing is here to stay.

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