Jonah Peretti and Rich Antoniello explain why BuzzFeed is buying Complex Networks
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Spotify
The wave of media consolidation is cresting again. The latest example is BuzzFeed’s acquisition of Complex Networks. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti and Complex Networks CEO Rich Antoniello joined the Digiday Podcast to talk about the deal.
The conversation with Peretti and Antoniello ranged from how Complex Networks will fit inside BuzzFeed to how BuzzFeed’s brands could cross over into Complex’s properties like ComplexCon and vice versa. What came through in the interview is how the two executives see their respective companies as being in a better position together rather than going it alone in an industry dominated by giant tech platforms and other major media companies that continue to merge.
“In this day and age, how difficult it is being an independent publisher, I think it’s only gotten more and more difficult and the pandemic heightened that,” Antoniello said.
Becoming a media conglomerate comes with complexities, though.
“You can tell in companies that merge everything together and have some chief content officer who makes every piece of content the same — I mean, it just doesn’t work,” said Peretti. “You need editorial independence and that flows through even to the business and to the partnerships you do and brand licensing deals and native advertising and branded content.”
Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Why Complex Networks will have its own CEO
Peretti: There’s a bunch of things that they do that really all we can hope for is that BuzzFeed could maybe help promote or add some additional distribution. But then there’s other areas where maybe there’s more collaboration. But the reason Complex will have a CEO is we’re seeing it as a really great business and franchise that needs to have its independence.
How BuzzFeed’s and Complex Networks’ businesses compare and contrast
Antoniello: The more I spoke to Jonah and the more our management teams got together and the more we looked at each other’s businesses and the level of diversification of both businesses but how we complementary we are. Our strength in longer-form content, their strength in shorter-form content. Their incredible e-commerce engine that has both affiliate as well as premium merchandise; our very IP and premium merchandise type of e-commerce.
How BuzzFeed will manage two separate food properties
Peretti: Tasty is a very pop brand. It’s a mass scale-type of brand. And First We Feast is a brand more of emerging culture and things that are coming next. I like Tasty and First We Feast both, but as a consumer, I would be really bummed out if they’ve merged together and had their voices diluted. Tasty needs to pursue its path and the same with First We Feast.
How BuzzFeed’s Tasty can sell Complex Networks’ hot sauce
Antoniello: We have this little line of hot sauces and hot honey [tied to Complex Networks’ show “Hot Ones”]. I’m dying to get those products in the hands of the talent at Tasty. Let’s sell some more product. Let’s make some recipes with our product and make some more money and provide more value to the end-consumer.
Newsletter publishers cautiously plan to expand editorial and sales teams
Publishers with newsletter-focused businesses are looking to grow their editorial and sales teams this year — but cautiously, to keep spending down during a time of economic uncertainty.
Magna 2023 forecast paints a resilient U.S. market, thanks to retail media and streaming
In its latest ad forecast, Magna is expecting a resilient U.S. market this year – boosted by retail, streaming and the auto industry’s bounceback.
How agencies are shaping the future of DEI beyond their own walls
Agencies are acknowledging that diversity efforts don’t stop with their companies. In addition to improving employee representation, now agency efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion are aimed at supporting clients and external partners.
SponsoredHow advertisers are fostering more effective publisher partnerships
Michael Weaver, senior vice president, business development and growth, Al Jazeera Media Network An everyday conversation between publishers and advertisers goes like this: The publisher invites the advertiser to a meal to talk about their business, attempts to delve into specifics on what the media buyer is looking to achieve, their audience breakdown and how […]
Newsletter publishers say they continue to see uptick in revenue despite advertising slowdown
At a time when larger media companies are feeling the pressure of the economic downturn and advertising slowdown, newsletter businesses continue to be in a period of revenue growth.
TikTok’s CEO faces bipartisan skepticism in first Congressional hearing on security concerns
The hearing comes amid calls to remove TikTok from government devices and in some cases even ban it entirely.