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How BuzzFeed makes money from its Tasty food videos

Tasty reaches 500 million people a month on Facebook.

After making thousands of them, BuzzFeed’s cooking video channel Tasty knows the formula for making a short, engaging video served up on Facebook.

Tasty is sharing that know-how with advertisers.

“Let’s say you’re a big consumer goods company and say to us, ‘We want some of your scale and we want that video,’” explained Ashley McCollum, general manager of Tasty at BuzzFeed, at the Code Media conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Dana Point, Calif.

“Well, we could just build an ad agency production model, but instead, we say to the advertisers that we have done thousands of these videos and we know how, when you make a slow cooker video, people start to drop off after 15 seconds unless you do this,” McCollum continued.

The online cooking video channel then makes recommendations to advertisers based on its massive archive of successful videos, which is why the ads and branded content on Tasty look very similar to Tasty videos.

Tasty is the fastest growing part of BuzzFeed. It reaches 500 million people a month. That’s one in two Americans, says McCollum.

Two years ago, Tasty realized that the optimal length for a food recipe video is 40 seconds, but McCollum says that formula is old and may not still be the optimal length today.

“You actually have the ability to go longer on Facebook than you ever have before,” said McCollum. “The assumption that only short form works is a mistake.”

McCollum was an early hire at BuzzFeed, where she helped facilitate the website’s $200 million partnership with NBCU* in 2015, which was recently renewed for $200 million more. McCollum worked at NBC News before joining BuzzFeed.

You can listen below to Peter Kafka’s interview on Recode Media with BuzzFeed Entertainment Group President Ze Frank about how Tasty has conquered the formula for viral cooking videos.

* * Comcast owns NBCU, an investor in Recode parent company Vox Media.

This article originally appeared on

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