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Ze Frank Shares the Secrets of BuzzFeed’s Video Success at Code/Media

They're both making motion pictures. But that's about where the similarities end -- which makes for really interesting conversation.

Asa Mathat
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Video is huge for BuzzFeed. But it’s not huge at BuzzFeed.

The company generates nearly a billion video views a month, but just 5 percent of them take place at

That fact comes from BuzzFeed video boss Ze Frank, and it’s one of many provocative ideas he shared with the audience last week at Code/Media, Re/code’s two-day media + tech event.

Frank helped kick off the conference, along with screenwriter John August, and together they provided a good look at two very different approaches to modern media: August works on projects that take several years and lots of money to make; Frank’s team cranks out 50 clips a week. Frank’s group assumes you’ll find most of its stuff, without context, on someone else’s “stream” — like YouTube or Facebook; August looks at Web video primarily as promotion for TV shows and movies that you’ll work hard to seek out.

These guys get along, by the way — years ago, they worked on a digital video project together. But they’re living in two very different worlds, at least professionally, and the gap between the two doesn’t look like it’s closing anytime soon. Depending on your perspective, that’s a shame — or an opportunity.

Here’s the full video of our chat:

This article originally appeared on

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