BuzzFeed struggling to beef up native team in Aus

By Rebecca Chambers | 25 September 2014

Buzzfeed is looking to hire a head of branded advertising in Australia to lead its commercial native content division, but has to find the right person to lead its local sales operation, according to Simon Crerar, Australia editor for Buzzfeed.

Speaking to AdNews at Social Media Week, Crerar said that native content from Australian brands, McDonalds, Telstra and Commonwealth Bank showed positive signs for the future, but that the challenge Buzzfeed faces is that currently all native content is produced by the US team.

It's aiming to strengthen its native team on the ground to accelerate the growth of campaigns from local brands, because its US-based creative team is "geographically remote" from the local market. Currently none of its Australian team work on native content for the site.

In his keynote address at the Sydney event, Crerar said: “Readers know the difference between an ad and real content. If branded content is to really resonate (with readers) we need a local team to tap into the Australian market.” 

Crerar is hoping to have someone in place or be close to appointing someone by the end of the year. 

The Australian operation isn't quite ready to make the jump into hard news that Buzz

Feed has made elsewhere after announcing its news app in July, in a move away from the listicle articles it has become known for.

BuzzFeed has correspondents all over the world, legitimising their hard news foray, but the hard news app hasn’t made its way to Australian shores yet. Crerar doesn’t think the Australian news team has quite found its niche there yet, but that it will come eventually. In July, it appointed former ABC journalist, Mark Di Stefano as breaking news reporter.

“There’s a desire for news in a different way than is being put out on our competitor sites. Our readers love long form. A young demographic is usually said to have a short attention span. Our longer news pieces are being shared a lot … We’ve only been reporting on the news since July in Australia.” 

Another challenge the Buzzfeed editor, formerly at News Corp in Australia and before that the Times in London, is facing is the shift in moving from a big corporation to a start-up and “doing everything by yourself.”

“It takes time to build a team around you,” he added.

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