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Buzzfeed offers glimpse into its AI future

Hi everyone, Brandon Doerrer, digital reporter at Campaign US and PRWeek, here. I’m filling in on The Tech Fix for our magnanimous technology editor Jessica Heygate for the next two weeks.

I’ve got a great lineup of news for you all today, so make sure to stick around until the end.

Hot topic

Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti broke down his vision for turning the flagship brand into an AI-powered media company in his annual letter to shareholders on Monday.

Following a 74% dive in Facebook referral traffic between 2020 and 2023 that effectively killed BuzzFeed News in May, Buzzfeed pivoted its focus to producing AI-generated quizzes, games, chatbot assistants and content machines, such as a custom emoji generator.

Peretti claimed that leaning into interactive content allows the media company to “focus on the parts of our business that are high margin, scalable and tech-enabled, specifically programmatic advertising and affiliate commerce.” Buzzfeed netted $90 million in programmatic ad revenue in 2023, while $500 million in affiliate sales led to $50 million in revenue last year.

Other publishers have struggled to monetize through programmatic ads due to automatic brand safety controls that blacklist websites that run stories on topics designated controversial by advertisers.

BuzzFeed said its first AI-powered content module in its app boosted page views by 24%.

Peretti has touted the power of generative AI for publishers for more than a year now, especially when it comes to taking back some of the power from platforms that favor “commoditized content and zero and low-cost creator labor.” 

Under the hood

Meta has pulled back the curtain on its next-generation custom AI chips that will power its recommendation engine.

In a company blog published on Wednesday, April 10, Meta said that it’s developing the second version of the Meta Training and Inference Accelerator (MTIA), an AI interface that trains models to provide recommendations to users, including ads.

The first version of MTIA was announced in May and is set to release in 2025, TechCrunch reported. Meta is working on both chips simultaneously, according to The Verge. 

Early tests showed that the new version performs three times “better” than the first iteration of MTIA across four models — though Meta didn’t specify exactly what it was measuring.

In its blog, Meta said that MTIA “will be an important piece of our long-term roadmap to build and scale the most powerful and efficient infrastructure possible” for its AI-powered services. 

The chips are currently being used in 16 regions.

On Tuesday, Intel announced its own AI accelerator, Gaudi 3. Google made its version of the tech, TPU v5p, available to Google Cloud customers at the start of the week. It also revealed its model-running chip, Axion, on Tuesday.

Fresh tech

  • Innovid launched Harmony Direct, a supply path optimization tool for guaranteed, non-biddable CTV inventory. Assembly, CMI Media Group, PMG and Roku are among the first to test the new product, which is part of Innovid’s “Harmony Initiative,” an effort to streamline ad investments in working media on CTV and reduce the risks of latency and fraud. 
  • LinkedIn partnered with NBCUniversal to introduce LinkedIn Premiere, a tool within its campaign manager that helps marketers target across NBCUniversal’s CTV content. It also introduced LinkedIn CTV Ads, which enables ad buyers to create and deploy CTV campaigns across publishers such as Roku and Samsung Ads.
  • DoorDash-owned Wolt launched ads for merchants and brands that will appear in its restaurant, grocery store and retailer ordering app. 
  • Stagwell Marketing Cloud developed a data clean room built on Google Cloud that securely houses first-party data from Stagwell, which agencies can use for their clients.
  • Nextdoor launched an ads API program that allows agencies to create Nextdoor ad campaigns from their own platforms of choice.
  • To protect users from sexual exploitation, Instagram began preventing adults from directly messaging teens they’re not connected to and putting nudity filters on images within messages.

Regulatory developments

U.S. House and Senate Commerce Committee chairs Maria Cantwell and Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced the American Privacy Rights Act on Sunday, designed to protect peoples’ online data. The bipartisan legislation would allow people to opt out of targeted advertising and give them access to their data from companies collecting and selling it.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice cited consumer privacy infringement as one of the reasons it filed a lawsuit against Apple for monopolistic practices. It alleged that allowing unencrypted messages to travel between iPhone and Android users was one of the ways Apple neglected to protect user privacy.

Apple has refuted claims that it selectively applies privacy policies to maintain its dominant status in the U.S.

Speaking of monopoly lawsuits, Meta revealed that Instagram contributed to 30% of its revenue in the first six months of 2022, up from the 26% it generated in all of 2020, in a filing from its battle with the Federal Trade Commission. That same filing showed that Instagram brought in $32.4 billion in ad revenue in 2021, more than YouTube’s $28.8 billion in the same year.

Buddy up

  • McCann Worldgroup partnered with content studio [Ai]magination to provide clients with AI-generated visual content for brand campaigns.
  • Snowflake built an integration that will allow marketers to access and implement Snap’s performance signals and campaign measurements on its marketing data cloud.
  • PubMatic partnered with Roblox to enable programmatic media buying of its video advertising inventory when it becomes available later in the year.


R.R. Donnelley Sons & Company released a report stating that 32% of marketers are using AI to support print marketing, while another 31% plan to use it. 

Meanwhile, 39% of markets have adopted web-to-print technology to reduce costs, personalize messaging and improve workflow.

Dollars and deals

  • WordPress and Tumblr owner Automattic acquired upstart messaging app Beeper, which combines all of a user’s messaging inboxes in one place.
  • Sony Music’s Global Podcast Division acquired podcast production company Neon Hum.

Reading list

404 Media uncovered a gritty underbelly of Instagram where users are deepfaking AI-generated models (as in, professionally attractive people), onto real models and sex workers, and then using those videos to promote their accounts on OnlyFans competitor sites.

Originally Appeared Here

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