Earlier this Summer, Buzzfeed raised $50 Million from a slew of investors who swore they’d never invest in content, ushering in claims of a new generation of publishers. I weighed in with my thoughts on the Buzzfeed model, and earlier this week Minutebuzz announced they’d raised €1 Million from Seventure Partners (Tigerlily, Prestashop, TalentSoft, MedEye) in order to scale up their native advertisement solution.
Minutebuzz‘s figures are impressive – 5 Million Unique Visitors per month, likely valuing the company around €5 Million – although Facebook’s recent algorithm modification to curb “Click-Baiting” may have a large impact on sites like Minutebuzz, which personally counts 70% of its viral traffic from social networks like Twitter & Facebook.
Dependence of viral content on social networks with algorithmically-controlled feeds (even Twitter is straying from a purely chronological display) remind me a bit too much of the early SEO-driven websites which optimized for ad revenue generated by a large number of web pages with high rank on Google’s search results. One tweak to the search engine’s algorithm would wipe out thousands of those websites in a matter of weeks, and I’m surprised that Buzzfeed & Minutebuzz seem to be riding the viral wave in a similar way, care-free.
Minutebuzz’s funding will go to streamlining and automating their native advertising network, which allows brands to select Minutebuzz articles and become a sponsor in real-time of articles that match their brands values, using a custom search tool to search for keywords in articles.
Minutebuzz recently found themselves in hot water after one of their viral videos was discovered to be heavily inspired by a short film by American director Casey Neistat. What made matters worse was that the plagiarized content was sponsored by Coca Cola, a move which Minutebuzz CEO & Co-founder Maxime Barbier says had immediate consequences for the company, though they have since recovered their reputations.
While Barbier, who is also the protagonist in Minutebuzz’s controversial video, still stands by his claim that he was open at the video’s source of inspiration – noting that he had reached out to Neistat before things blew up – he says that Minutebuzz definitely won’t be tempting the fates a second time with similar grey-zone inspiration.
Viral Content isn’t going anywhere. Minutebuzz has a few local-language competitors – including a French-language Buzzfeed & DeMotivateur – however, the company hopes their ability to attract brands will allow them to stay ahead of the competition, noting that Buzzfeed has had little success in France thus far.