NBCUniversal and BuzzFeed are creating a new millennial parenting channel together called Playfull, hoping to replicate BuzzFeed’s success with verticals like Tasty and Nifty.
Playfull launches today on Facebook and is the first publishing brand that will be co-owned by the longtime partners. NBCUniversal has invested $400 million in BuzzFeed since 2015 and has embedded the digital publisher within its Digital Enterprises group, which oversees NBCU’s digital media investments including other partnerships with Vox Media and Snap.
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As part of the arrangement, BuzzFeed will have a dedicated team creating videos for Playfull. BuzzFeed said that so far, it has about a dozen people on the team, led by Peggy Wang, BuzzFeed’s editorial director for lifestyle brands. BuzzFeed started creating a library of videos for Playfull before launch so it could to hit the ground running, said Wang.
NBCUniversal’s primary role will be to oversee ad sales and other business partnerships for Playfull. The Playfull partnership will be overseen by Patricia Hadden, svp and head of marketing in NBCUniversal’s Digital Enterprises group. Advertising formats will include custom videos, integrations and other editorial sponsorships, Hadden said.
NBCUniversal will provide marketing support in the form of a 15-second commercial that will air during the Winter Olympics (which NBCU exclusively broadcasts in the U.S.). BuzzFeed, meanwhile, will use its other Facebook verticals to share Playfull videos.
Playfull’s target audience is parents aged 20 to 34. Initially, the focus will be giving parents valuable and relatable information with a BuzzFeed bent, Wang said. Previous BuzzFeed video examples include “Little tricks to teach your kids the basics,” “9 kid-friendly science experiments” and “How I make mom friends.”
“One thing I’m excited about is that on Tasty and Nifty, we make a lot of content that appeals to parents, but it’s not necessarily being made with parents in mind,” said Wang. “This is the opportunity to make that type of content with parents in mind.”
The first video is a good example of how BuzzFeed can iterate, as its success led BuzzFeed to create another video on teaching kids to take care of themselves, Wang said.
“The idea is to reach people who might relate to specific situations, because they are going to be the people that share this content,” said Wang.
Looking ahead, NBCU will also explore ways to expand Playfull beyond Facebook, including content partnership opportunities with NBCU networks and media brands. Hadden pointed to how Tasty has collaborated with “The Today Show” on editorial and branded video campaigns as an example of how this would work. NBCU’s portfolio includes networks such as Bravo, Oxygen and even NBC Sports, which have audiences that overlap with millennial parents.
“We have a great relationship with Snap and have already started talking to them about how to incorporate Playfull into their content slate,” said Hadden.
Collaborations between BuzzFeed and NBCUniversal have now become commonplace. Since investing in BuzzFeed, NBCU has frequently tapped the digital publisher to create digital and social content, including Snapchat Discover channels for the Summer and Winter Olympics as well as a tie-up between Tasty and “The Today Show.” Through its Symphony ad sales program, NBCU also features BuzzFeed in its multiplatform sales pitches.
Parenting isn’t entirely new territory for BuzzFeed. Last December, its BuzzFeed Parents Facebook page had 43.9 million video views, according to Tubular Labs. Following the Playfull launch, BuzzFeed Parents will remain a distinct editorial unit at BuzzFeed, the digital publisher said, though Playfull will likely use data and insights from BuzzFeed Parents to help develop content for Facebook and other platforms.
Of course, there’s no shortage of publishers and social channels making content for millennial parents. And content distribution on Facebook itself is an open question following the platform’s news-feed changes that will prioritize videos shared by users rather than most media content.
For NBCUniversal, that’s not a cause for concern because of BuzzFeed’s track record in building new media brands on Facebook. Tasty and Nifty are giants on Facebook and their videos frequently get shared, said Hadden.
“We look at Facebook as a phenomenal marketing platform, and BuzzFeed has done a great job at launching brands there,” said Hadden. “Plus, that’s where the parents live. This will resonate with fellow parents.”
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