January 6, 2023

The Yahoo Interview: How BuzzFeed connects with audiences today and in an ID-less world

The identity and cookieless landscape is evolving rapidly and can feel complex. But it doesn't have to. Hear how BuzzFeed is taking a multi-faceted approach to future-proof their business.

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The identity and cookieless landscape is evolving rapidly. To help you understand how one leader is overcoming the complexity, we sat down with John Price, SVP of Revenue Technology & Operations at BuzzFeed, to discuss what they’re doing to thrive in the evolving identity landscape.

Shawna Larkowski, Director of Product Marketing, Yahoo: There’s been a lot of coverage lately about Google’s delay on third-party cookie deprecation. Several marketers we spoke with said they're using this as an excuse to put their identity strategies on pause. That isn’t our approach, nor is it BuzzFeed’s – you’ve been frontrunners in tackling the identity challenge and future-proofing your business.

Please tell us a little bit about your strategy related to identity and consumer privacy changes.

John Price, SVP of Revenue Technology & Operations, BuzzFeed: First and foremost, we are following guidance that prioritizes user consent and privacy. In parallel, we are investing in the cookieless future. For us, that means investing in Lighthouse, our first-party audience infrastructure. 

Shawna: It’s great for us to hear, and it validates that leveraging your first-party data as a publisher is critical. Many of our pubs are interested in how to better leverage their first-party data. Publishers like BuzzFeed and Yahoo, who have a lot of great first-party data assets, can lead that conversation and advise. 

Where have you seen success thus far? 

John: Our brands reflect the identities and interests of the audiences our partners can reach. We believe that identity-based targeting truly succeeds in premium and brand-safe editorial environments that represent the identity of its fans. We’re fortunate to have an Internet Protocol (IP) in-house that anchors some really powerful segments, allowing our partners to reach very particular audiences.

Shawna: Let’s talk about the partnership between Yahoo and BuzzFeed – we’ve had great success together. And since I have your permission for a quick plug, I’d love to share some recent performance gains you’ve had using Yahoo SSP. BuzzFeed saw a 27% increased CPM for registered users (over standard third-party cookies) with Yahoo ConnectID, our solution for addressable traffic. And for non-addressable users, you’ve seen an even more significant gain thanks to Next-Gen Solutions, with a 38% increase in CPM for non-registered users. We've also seen a rise in the overall fill rate, which is traffic that is more valuable to buyers. These results lead to my next question: 

What do you need from a partner to be successful?

John: We have unparalleled reach to a diverse Gen Z and millennial audience, and we do this at scale. We also have unparalleled reach in relationships with our audiences across some of the most important customer bases. The demand for our premium inventory is somewhat built in; this means we are looking for solutions that can increase our yield against that and deliver more value for our clients. Our partners need to be able to provide turnkey integrations and additional value. And for us, that's plug-and-play integrations with Prebid, dedicated resources we can lean into, and, most importantly, a partner that values our audience’s privacy as much as we do.  

Have there been any roadblocks or challenges that you’ve encountered, and how have you worked through those?

John: Good question! The biggest one, and you touched on it earlier, is volatility. It’s one of the biggest challenges we all face. We prepare for a specific outcome, get up to speed, and then the goalpost moves again. We all continue to evolve in the marketplace, but the cyclical nature of the volatility can frustrate even the most motivated team.

Shawna: Keeping everyone motivated and acknowledging that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution is a smart way to face a changing landscape. John, thank you so much for your time today. Before you go, I have one more question:

What is the one piece of advice you’d give fellow publishers to succeed in the new year?

John: You almost just said it. You know your inventory and strategy, so customizing based on your monetization mix is very important. We’re a heavy direct publisher, which would be very different from an entirely programmatic publisher. As you said, it’s not one size fits all. Everyone’s playbook will look a little different from one another, so ultimately knowing your inventory and monetization mix.

Shawna: We’re so grateful to have had you join us today, John. We appreciate it.

How to create order out of identity chaos

The identity landscape is complex and evolving rapidly. We love hearing how partners like BuzzFeed take a multi-faceted approach to future-proof their business across all fronts. Yahoo is doing the same. We know more than just an ID-based solution is needed to connect with consumers. That’s why we’ve invested in and empowered our publishers with solutions for addressable audiences with Yahoo ConnectID and non-addressable audiences with Next-Gen Solutions. Beyond that, we also have an identity insights layer embedded in our solution to help you better understand your users so you can make better monetization decisions. 

Share your identity story

If you have an identity case study you’d like to share, and you’re one of our current partners, we should talk. Being the subject of an upcoming blog is a powerful way to share your identity insights and bring attention to your business. Contact us today to learn more about this high-profile interview opportunity. And to get details on our solutions that help ensure you're ready to thrive in tomorrow's identity-constrained world.

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