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For BuzzFeed, Five Billion Views Are Worth More Than 18 Billion Impressions

A quick explainer from CEO Jonah Peretti.

Asa Mathat for Re/code

BuzzFeed doesn’t care where you see its stuff — just that you see it.

And it says you see its stuff a lot — five billion times a month, according to a new memo from CEO Jonah Peretti, who says that viewing happens on BuzzFeed’s own properties, as well as on “over 30 other platforms including Facebook video, YouTube and Snapchat.”

But wait a minute. Back in March, when Peretti was explaining BuzzFeed’s interest in showing its stuff on other peoples’ platforms, he said the company’s reach was even bigger than that. Much bigger: Peretti said BuzzFeed’s stuff was seen 18 billion times a month on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

That stat even came with a helpful GIF:

So what’s the right number?

Both! It just depends on what you’re counting, says Peretti.

That said, he thinks the smaller number is now the more relevant one: That’s because he says that people actually consume five billion things a month from BuzzFeed, as opposed to seeing links for them in their various feeds. The 18 billion doesn’t really do him much good, unless people are clicking those links.

Here’s Peretti’s explanation, which he sent to me via email today:

The 18B was the total feed impressions on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Most of these were links pointing to stories on BuzzFeed.com that users didn’t click, e.g. scrolling past a BuzzFeed link in your Twitter timeline and not clicking it.

The big number of impression raised questions: Why are we publishing so many links to social feeds when people click them less than 5% of the time? What if we published actual content into social feeds?

So we started publishing more videos, comics, articles, etc. directly to the feed. The 5B views is the result and represents actual content views on BF.com, app, and mostly views within feeds where people don’t have to leave the feed to watch a video. The distributed views are mostly video views that would have otherwise been links.

So 18B was promos pointing to content, 5B is actual content views. Link pollution is way down, distributed views way up. Does that make sense?

It does. Thanks!

And thanks to Ryan Melogy for spotting the gap and getting me to ask about it.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.