BuzzFeed has reported an over 50% decrease in projected revenue, a surprise from the ad-based news agency. The company, known well for its clickbait headlines and less-than-quality campaigns, has always been seen as the flagship for the Millennial news age. The connotation was always a condescending one, implying that the internet generation was somehow incapable of consuming longform content beyond pictures and six word sentences. With such an enormous loss, many worry BuzzFeed will go the way of The New Republic, which was eventually sold off after it failed to adapt to the digital age in the way its founders assumed it would.
Small media startups are difficult to be financial powerhouses and, like BuzzFeed, tend to make less and eventually lose money over time. BuzzFeed, for a while, lasted through the mass shutterings of tiny copycats that attempted to imitate its “grab ‘em and advertise to ‘em” method, to mixed success. The fear is that the ad-based news bubble will pop, going the way of the dot com boom and the housing market. Though the fall of BuzzFeed may have been prophesized by the simple fact that their content eventually would have eventually lost its immediate and quick-on-return appeal.
The idea of immediate shortform did not start with BuzzFeed, but the once-tiny startup did popularize it. Newer, similar startups in the vein of BuzzFeed have attempted to diverge from the desire for clicks in order to deliver content of quality – even BuzzFeed tried this from time to time – though their long term success is also in doubt in the face of news giants like the New York Times. Smaller names with big-name investors, like Vice and Vox, have seemingly held their own, but whether they can avoid being swallowed in a media landfill remains to be seen. For now, all one can wonder if whether or not BuzzFeed can adapt before it becomes the needle that pops the bubble.