Time spent on Buzzfeed brands tumbled a third year-on-year in the last financial quarter, the company has announced.
In its financial results for Q3 2022, the digital media business said its revenue had grown 15% year-on-year to more than $100m. But losses grew 7.5-fold over the same period to $27m.
Despite a rocky global picture, the company, which also owns Huffpost and Complex Networks, forecast further revenue growth in the fourth quarter.
And chief executive Jonah Peretti (pictured above) said Buzzfeed had outperformed revenue expectations for the quarter.
The company’s earnings release shows advertising revenue in Q3 of $50.4m versus $50.2m in Q3 2021.
Content revenues increased faster, however, rising 45% from $26.5m in the third quarter of 2021 to $38.4m in 2022. Other revenues, including e-commerce, were up 11% from $13.4m to $14.9m.
Revenue in the US rose from $79.1m to $94.6. Over the same period, international revenue fell from $11m to $9.2m.
Profits were hit by rising costs, which grew in almost every segment reported by the company.
Total costs grew a third from $91m in Q3 2021 to $121.8m in 2022. Within that, cost of revenues grew from $48.8m to $61m, sales and marketing expenses grew from $11.2m to $16.3m, and “general and administrative costs” grew from $19.8m last Q3 to $27.3m this year.
Peretti said in a statement: “I am proud of the results our team delivered in the third quarter, exceeding our August outlook for both revenue and adjusted Ebitda, in spite of the rapidly shifting platform landscape and ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty.
“In the current environment, our advertising clients have limited budgets to deploy, and we continue to win on massive audience reach, culturally relevant IP and brand safety.”
In all, Buzzfeed’s net loss grew from $3.6m in Q3 2021 to $27m in Q3 2022.
Other publishers, including The New York Times, have reported flatlining or declining advertising revenues this quarter, as recessionary fears prompt brands to rein in their marketing budgets.[Read more: Adspend forecast – 2022 and 2023 predictions downgraded amid recession fears]
In its earnings release, Buzzfeed said that “we are the number one destination for Gen Z and Millennials amongst our competitive set, in terms of time spent, according to Comscore”.
The company said total time spent on its content, both on owned and operated properties and third-party platforms, declined from 220.9 million hours in Q3 2021 to 150.7 million hours in Q3 2022 – a fall of 32%.
In Q3 2021, around 31% (or 68.5 million hours) of Buzzfeed’s total time spent came from owned and operated properties. The remaining 69% (152.4 million hours) came from third-party platforms.
By Q3 2022 however that appears to have changed markedly, with third-party platforms and owned properties accounting each for 50% of time spent. Although Buzzfeed did not break out the figures, that would imply a 10% rise in time spent on Buzzfeed’s own properties (i.e. its websites) but a greater than 50% fall in time spent on its content on third-party platforms.
An investor presentation that accompanied the results highlighted growth in time spent, Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) and profitability in the years running up to – but not including – 2022.
Buzzfeed CFO Felicia DellaFortuna said on earnings day: “US time spent, as reported by Comscore – which does not include TikTok or Reels – declined 32% year-over-year to 151 million hours in the third quarter, driven by declining Facebook traffic, as short-form vertical video formats continued to gain audience share. This offset growth in time spent on our owned and operated properties.
“Although industry-standard reporting on audience time spent does not yet reflect newer platforms and formats, we are pleased with the audience momentum we have generated so far this year, and look forward to sharing more on our progress in this important area over the coming quarters.”
Buzzfeed has had an uncertain few years. The Buzzfeed site itself was a lynchpin of the content economy in the mid-2010s and its originally-derided news arm ultimately published numerous agenda-setting, and sometimes notorious, stories.
But the newsroom has since been serially cut and the company has struggled to command the attention it once had. It merged with Huffpost in late 2020, bought youth entertainment network Complex in June 2021 and went public via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) in December that year – raising only $16m of a hoped for $250m.[Read more: Forbes officially cancels plan to go public amid ‘deteriorating SPAC market’]
Photo by Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
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