BuzzFeed is on a march. Having already expanded into nine countries, including the UK, from its US base, it now has its eye on Japan.
The digital media firm has announced a joint venture with Yahoo Japan to bring its popular brand of gif-fuelled stories, native advertising content and, increasingly, more serious news coverage to the Far East - and the move makes a good deal of sense.
In choosing to partner with Yahoo Japan, BuzzFeed has all but guaranteed it will be catapulted into the lives of the majority of Japanese internet users – because the majority of Japanese internet users are on Yahoo.
The recent Digital News Report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that Yahoo reached 52 per cent of Japan’s population on a weekly basis.
BuzzFeed has seen the opportunity to piggyback on that pervasiveness and is prepared to break away from its usual approach when entering a new market of forming a wholly owned new business in order to do so.
Yahoo is already an effective driver of traffic for external websites and would have the ability to significantly increase the proportion which flows to BuzzFeed by promoting its content in high profile places across the Yahoo Japan network.
As Greg Coleman, BuzzFeed’s president and a former sales executive at Yahoo, puts it:
“In Japan we want to open with a partner who can help accelerate our growth. This is why a joint venture makes the most sense. “
He added: “Yahoo Japan is a perfect fit because it is a pure-play digital company untethered to the legacy constraints of traditional media. We have many of the same philosophies and approaches.”
Yahoo Japan, which is a joint venture between the US Yahoo and Japan’s SoftBank, will own 49 per cent of the joint operation, with BuzzFeed holding the majority stake. The Japan-language site will exist on a BuzzFeed web address.
BuzzFeed already claims that 45 per cent of its online traffic now comes from outside the US – and its latest move looks certain to make that figure the majority.