Monday 12 April 2021 3:45 pm

Buzzfeed UK revenue falls as pandemic hits digital advertising

Buzzfeed UK’s revenue dropped last year as the online media group battled the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the online advertising market.

The website’s UK division, which also covers its international operations outside the US, posted a 16 per cent decline in revenue to £18.9m in 2020.

Read more: UK HuffPost office next on Buzzfeed’s chopping block

However, Buzzfeed said an aggressive cost-cutting strategy had helped to trim operating loss to £2.9m, down from £7.4m the previous year.

It comes after the company shut down its news operations in the UK and Australia in May, resulting in layoffs for a number of journalists. This followed a number of staff cuts at Buzzfeed in recent years as it moved to trim down its newsroom.

Like many publishers, Buzzfeed has been hit by a sharp decline in advertising revenue as brands pulled campaigns during the pandemic.

In a further effort to cut costs, the group sold its operations in Germany through an asset sale in August and sold its subsidiary in Brazil through a share sale in October.

This also helped to reduce net debt from £11.3m to £10.1m, largely due to liabilities linked to the Brazil operations.

Buzzfeed, which was founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti, became famous for its clickable headlines but soon developed a reputation as a respected news outlet.

However, its business model has been severely hit by a wider decline in digital advertising for publishers as tech giants such as Facebook and Google continue to grow their share.

In November Buzzfeed agreed a merger with digital media rival Huffpost in a bid to bolster their reach through scale.

The company announced a further 47 job cuts to its US editorial team shortly after the deal was finalised.

The layoffs in the US accounted for nearly 30 per cent of HuffPost’s US-based journalists. US employees reportedly said they were invited to a meeting with the password ‘spring is here’, where they were informed of the upcoming redundancies.

Read more: Buzzfeed strikes deal to buy HuffPost in stock deal

The employees were told if they did not receive an email by 1pm that day, their jobs were safe.

A further 16 full-time roles at Huffpost in London are now at risk as the combined group continues to slim down its operations.

In its annual accounts published today, Buzzfeed said it did not expect a significant impact to its UK operations as a result of the merger.