Jonah Peretti at Changing Media Summit 2013

Notes, insights and learning from Jonah Peretti’s keynote at Guardian’s Changing Media Summit 2013.

peretti Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti on how ideas travel on the social web – video

Well, that came in handy. While Johannes and I are spending this weekend on researching as much as possible about the publishing industry, we stumbled upon this fantastic keynote by Jonah Peretti at Guardian’s Changing Media Summit. If you are not familiar with the name, Jonah is the CEO of Buzzfeed and is hailed – quite possibly rightly so – as the wunderkind of the publishing industry. Buzzfeed is not his first success. He was instrumental to the rise of the famous Huffington Post before that.

We took some notes and thought that some of you might find them useful as well. So here it is, the video and our rather unfiltered notes (mostly just sentences he said).

A little side anecdote as to the creation of this blog post: I created the initial notes by writing them down in iA Writer, transferring them into Draft and sharing them with Johannes. There, Johannes added his notes and I had the chance to approve them. Draft is an amazing tool for collaborative writing. It’s a bit like github for writing.

Notes, Insights & Learnings

  • Over 40+ Mio unique visitors per month
  • Primarily from social
  • Mostly 18-34
  • Over 40% from mobile
  • Shift from Portals -> Search -> Social
  • HuffPo was grown rapidly through search, BuzzFeed through social.
  • “Bored-At-Work”-Network = Collectively larger than the audience BBC or CNN reaches
  • Literally hundreds of millions of people
  • Weren’t initially aware that they are part of a network
  • If your mobile doesn’t work on mobile, it doesn’t spread
  • Mobile and Social have converged.
  • Make something that ordinary people want to share
  • “Biggest misconception is that you need to focus on quality for things to go viral.”
  • Quality helps, but it’s not necessary
  • Idea matters, but as important is the mechanism for spreading the idea
  • You should spend an equal amount of time on how to spread an idea as you spend time on the idea itself.
  • BuzzFeed combines Art & Science, which is the creativity/the idea and the data-driven approach to spreading it.
  • R = ßz (the equation for epidemiology = how effective diseases spread)
  • Viral Rank = measures the “social production rate” of media and is measurement metric that exists in real-time
  • Maximization of Content Spread = we starve content that isn’t getting traction, and fuel the content that is taking off
  • BuzzFeed also uses machine learning to predict social hits so they know
  • Twitter has a half-life of about an hour
  • Facebook has a half-life of about a day
  • Pinterest has a half-life of about a week
  • “Our technology is made for social.” Measuring the social lift.
  • BuzzFeed uses dashboards to help editors train their intuition of what might work.
  • We behave very differently depending on the context. Content spreads differently on different platforms.
  • Google is very informational (about the information), Facebook is about connecting people (through information?), Facebook is much more emotional
  • “Humor is inherently social.” When you meet people and somebody jokes, nobody remembers the joke the next day, only that they laughed hard
  • BuzzFeed has buttons for emotions. *I think it actually helps them to channel their emotion and become more aware, thus more willing to share. “If I LOLed so hard, I should send it to my friends.”
  • Once people are reacting, they are much more likely to share -> make simple to react
  • Good news for journalism: “Aggregation worked for search, but Scoops & Quality Reporting work for Social” -> Google can’t tell the difference between the rewrite and the original scoop, but on Twitter people can tell which one is the original. They will retweet the original scoop.
  • Publishing is now a Paris Café (!!!) – You can read the Le Mond, you can pet a dog, because its cute and you can flirt with somebody. Buzzfeed tries to serve all our emotional needs.
  • Lets embrace ALL the things that make us human.
  • “Edit was first, but now the big shift to social is coming to advertising”
  • At Buzzfeed, 100% of revenue is social content marketing
  • No banner ads on BuzzFeed.
  • Brands are held to a higher bar where they must have content that people actually want to click on and read
  • It all works through the same CMS
  • Editors never touch brand content, but brands have to learn how to work as publishers / editors
  • Brands get a dashboard that shows how much earned media they are getting
  • Social can make ads great again. In the Mad Men era advertising didn’t need to cram ads into a banner, they had a whole page
  • Social can hold advertising to a new bar
  • It’s better to think long-term
  • Have a heart, having emotional is important
  • Identity: People share stuff because it’s about them
  • Something that everybody like a little gets shared less than something that only a small percentage like a lot.
  • If you can publish into the zeitgeist, you can publish into what people are talking about and you can capture the moment …
  • Nostalgia is also very social
  • Porn only works for search, not for social.
  • “The banner ad was a historical accident and we are moving past it.”
  • EQ is as important as IQ.

Week 130

Arrived in Berlin-Mitte. Now in full preparation mode for a project in Moscow.

Berlin-Mitte, we are in you.

As planned and in between many client related projects, we orchestrated our move to Mitte while most people were out and about looking for those Easter eggs. While we clearly have more than 100 items, we do have certain leanness that allowed us to make the transition smoothly and efficiently. Just for the record, our new address is:

Third Wave GmbH
Rosenthaler Str. 34-35
10178 Berlin
On Foursquare

If you are curious, here is a photo of the space, which has since been filled up with desks and such. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the panorama shot into believing that we are now residents of a gigantic space. It’s a modest, yet perfectly suited space for us. All things considered, it is a minor step for us as a company. And yet, the psychological effect of sitting in an office that is not being sublet from another company is strangely exciting and motivating.

But enough about the office. We will try and maintain our usual communication habits, but the next few days will be a mixture of organisation todos around the office and preparation for some tremendously interesting work that we will be doing in Moscow. As is so often the case, we can not go into detail, but we will try and share the insights both about the topic in general as well as Russia as a market.

Teaming up with VCCP again. Looking for Social Media Trainees.

We are teaming up with VCCP again to look for two more trainees in the Social Media sphere.

Our collaboration with VCCP was a full success. We searched for a young candidate and trained her in the social media ways while she gained practical experience working alongside the teams at VCCP. It was an experiment, and as it turned out, one that led us to a successful new way of social media apprenticeship. Ergo, it was an easy decision to continue this collaboration between VCCP and Third Wave.

This time, we are looking for two people who want to learn about social media & community management while contributing to the young, agile and dedicated teams at VCCP and here at Third Wave.

Check out the job description and requirements and if you feel like this could be something that you are interested in and you speak German and English fluently , let us know! We would love to hear from you.

Igor on German TV

Igor was featured on public German TV channel ZDF in their popular news show ‘heute journal’ for a bit about the cloud. You can also catch a glimpse at the Makers Loft, our shared office with Gidsy. Watch it here (starting at 26:20) for the next seven days.

You can also watch a longer version of the interview here.


A couple of months ago we worked on a little project that unfortunately didn’t come through. We asked very smart people to contribute their thoughts about how the world is changing. Dannie Jost – you might now her as a speaker at our Cognitive Cities Conference –, always insightful and happy to help, contributed a text that we want to share with you.

A couple of months ago we worked on a little project that unfortunately didn’t come through. We asked very smart people to contribute their thoughts about how the world is changing. Our single point in the briefing was: It should be about the Uncomfortable. Dannie Jost – you might know her as a speaker at our Cognitive Cities Conference –, always insightful and happy to help, contributed a text that we want to share with you.

Tools emerge, and solutions are discovered later. Problems are our prayers. Deeply baffled by human nature and its ability to muddle human affairs, I turn to the only truth that I know. Words. Just words. Beyond truth, I know reality. Reality is that part of truth that does not need belief. I can not believe the words, they just stand there and represent an experience, or a passing thought, and the never ending quest to make sense of it all. Words beg for interpretation.

The many ideologies invented in the past century – capitalism, communism and nationalism to name the biggest offenders – differ very little. This triumvirate wrecks havoc in human affairs every day. Uncomfortable times is the natural state of human affairs. When have the times not been uncomfortable? If one is to consider that last sentence in full, the only relief that there is, is that times is a passing thing. I can not cope with the discipline of history. One day, I asked a distinguished colleague and scholar in that discipline what it was that men had learned from history? I had the feeling that he had not taken my question seriously. He did not respond, he smiled, he did not dare laugh. I was truly interested in what a scholar of history would tell a scholar of science and technology. I did not get an answer. I may never get an answer. Is there an answer?

But what have we learned from science and technology? These are dark days for humanity, we are right back in the darkness of the middle ages where our ignorance is only exceeded by our arrogance and brutality. Ours! We, we are the humans. Are we a race? Are we a species? Are we von Neumann automatons? What on earth are we?

Failing any good answers forthcoming from history, despairing that religious dogma and Grimm’s tales provide comparable satisfaction, I advance the lubricous proposition that humans are animals. Lubricous is ludicrous. I am not dyslexic. Such is the condition of the animal roaming the planet, burning fossil fuels, incapable of understanding nuclear fusion, and then going on a witch-hunt for knowledge. Is knowledge going to fix anything at all when men’s irrationality still drives us to actions that destroy the very substrate that sustains all life? Between money and sex, what other interests are there?

The witch-hunt for knowledge includes burning those who are shy of numbers, fuzzy in their thinking and uncompromising in ideals. Those are the naive who believe that humans can act rationally. Humans can collectively act rationally, but we have not yet reached that desired state of civilization. I love those strange creatures who are born far from perfect, write a few words on paper, and go to battle and find a few more like minded who are willing to do battle with them. Some just write and leave the battle to others. Democratic constitutions and declarations of human rights are the creation of such fools who write words. Tools emerged: democratic constitutions and declarations of human rights.

Men do not deserve the governments that they get. French, Swiss, Libyans, Japanese, Germans, Australians, nobody deserves government. Governments, elected or not, are a matter of luck. Government is not a necessary evil either, it is the result of existence. It emerges where humans live. Some governments are better than others. No single ideology of government is ‘the right one.’ We do live in a manifold of problems. These problems are our prayers. Without them we would be bored out of our wits. We have all the problems that we have ever prayed for. We live in abundance of problems and we live in scarcity of spirit. We are animals fighting for survival. We are killing ourselves ever so slowly, ever so surely, and all ever so out of boredom! At the end, whenever that will be, we will not be just dust, but information. As the universe passes through another big bang, it will forget that we have existed. Will we remember?

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Week 49

A busy week of workshops and strategy work is behind us, so we move into a week all about the future of cities. Also, an overview of the events and projects we’re contributing to over the next few weeks: PICNIC, Social Media Week, People in Beta and Chefsache.

I couldn’t have asked for a better start into a week full of discussions on the future of cities: Right now I’m on my way to Frankfurt to visit the Audi Urban Future Summit which I was kindly invited to. The conference boasts quite a line-up of speakers including Carlo Ratti (MIT Senseable Cities Lab) and Chris Anderson (WIRED). Later this week Igor and I will be headed for Amsterdam to do a workshop with David Bausola (Weavrs). We’ll be prototyping concepts for mashups building on two huge bodies of data: human data (think Quantified Self) and city data (think Cognitive Cities). You can follow our progress on this QuantifiedCities tumblr, and we’ll be sure to follow up in next week’s weeknote.

What were we up to last week?

Johannes took part in a workshop about digital magazines at one of our clients. He provided some market overview and explored the continuous struggle of publishers to let go of their print heritage to embrace their customers’ new reading habits. Many publishers are still in that stage where they think about simply transferring their print content to new devices, but haven’t developed an understanding of how their customers actually use these devices. Fortunately, we can work with clients who are getting the hang of it.

I spent two days in Hamburg, both on client workshops and to meet up with a whole bunch of lovely people. It’s always great to be in Hamburg.

We also presented the social media strategy for a strong brand we all grew up with – internally for now, but maybe we can follow up on this more publicly soon.

Also, our friends Freunde von Freunden celebrated their international launch: Congratulations again!

In other news, we’re getting ready to move offices. Our office neighbors Gidsy need more space and so do we, so we’ll expand a little and set up our new HQ over the next few weeks. We were lucky: our address will stay the same.

So what’s up next?

At Social Media Week Berlin I’m looking forward to hosting a panel (Social Media Strategy and the Future). (Disclosure: I’m on the advisory board of SMW Berlin.)

On Saturday, Johannes will give a Pecha Kucha style talk at Chefsache Meets Berlin about how to cope with information overflow.

Betahaus invited us to be part of the People In Beta Festival (1 Oct 2011), which combines the best of maker, coworking and startup culture. We’re glad we can pitch in (among other things, Johannes will give a more in-depth presentation on information overflow, too). More on that soon.

Our travel schedules this week

Johannes will be embedded at a client most of the week. I’m in Frankfurt today. Igor and I will be at PICNIC in Amsterdam from Tuesday to Friday. (If you’re there, ping us!)

iPad Magazines

Which magazine on iPad will change the advertising and publishing world? I’ve bought them all, but I still don’t believe in the concept ‘iPad magazine’. As long as publishers consider iPad magazines to be digital versions of their print magazines with some added interactive features, it won’t work out.

I recently joined the Purple List, a network of experts set up by PSFK that answers questions and gives opinion on all kind of topics. A recent question was about iPad magazines:

Which magazine on iPad will change the advertising and publishing world?

Here’s my answer: I’ve bought them all: Wired, WiredUK, Project, PopSci+, Interview, Intelligent Life and all the German attempts. The magazine folder on my iPad is the largest of all my iPad-folders. But I still don’t believe in the concept ‘iPad magazine’. Magazines obviously come from the print world. They are pure print. The whole format, the presentation of content, the curation, the writing, everything is optimized for publishing on print.

The buzz about the iPad in the publishing industry reminds me of the buzz in the marketing world about Second Life a few years back. Everybody is excited because it seems they can now go back to what they know best and make a buck in the digital realm. The marketers were excited to do outdoor campaigns again in Second Life and the publishers are excited to to print publications but on digital devices.
Problem is, it has never worked out to approach a new format/screen/media/device with an old mindset. And that’s why I think that no ‘iPad magazine’ will change the publishing and advertising industry. As long as publishers consider iPad magazines to be digital versions of their print magazines with some added interactive features, it won’t work out. The iPad (and tablet devices in general) are a new entity in our everyday (digital) life and to create successful media for it, we have to put the user’s use of devices and media throughout his day in the center and create an ecosystem of services to go with that.

What I hope for is that some publishers will take a good look at their core content and competence and pair that with their insights into the user’s behavior to create completely new formats. If I had to bet money on a publisher, it would be Bonnier. I think their News+ concept is spot on (the two intro slides say it all).

Check out the other answers