Banner ads return to Buzzfeed as company aims to blend programmatic and native

Tim Maytom

Digital publisher BuzzFeed is set to finally introduce banner ads to its website and mobile apps in an effort to boost monetisation of its audience, after years of eschewing the popular format in favour of native content marketing.

The media firm will enable advertisers to run display ads on its homepage, story pages and within its mobile apps, and has plans to develop new ways for programmatic and native to work together in the future to deliver value for marketers.

Display ads will be bought and sold on a global basis using third-party ad technology, specificially Google's DoubleClick Ad Exchange and the Facebook Audience Network. The introduction of display ads is a distinct change in policy for the publisher, which has rejected the format since its beginning, instead serving as one of the pioneers of native advertising through sponsored posts, quizzes and videos, all of which are produced in-house.

The shift comes as the publisher looks towards a potential IPO in 2018, and is seeking to diversify and strengthen its revenue streams ahead of a rigorous financial review by potential investors. According to comScore, BuzzFeed reaches more than 75m unique users in the US alone on a monthly basis, and when its reach across various social networks is included, that number is as high as 9bn, according to the company.

"Out aims are both tactical and strategic," said Jonah Peretti, CEO and founder of BuzzFeed in an interview with Business Insider. "Tactically, programmatic has improved in terms of loading times, mobile experience and ad quality, and opens up another way for us to monetise our huge audeiince.

The move also benefits our global strategy by allowing us to generate revenue in markets before we've built business teams to implement native monetisation. Programmatic advertising is simply an addition to our many revenue streams that, added together, make BuzzFeed an even stronger business."