BuzzFeed makes money selling ads. It has started making money selling its own gadgets.
Now it wants to combine the two ideas: The publisher is telling gadget-makers and inventors it will make ads for their inventions, in exchange for a cut of their product’s sales.
This one comes out of BuzzFeed’s newish Product Labs group, which has made a splash selling BuzzFeed-branded cookbooks, fidget spinners, and bluetooth-connected hotplates.
Now BuzzFeed wants to take something made by someone else — maybe you — and use BuzzFeed’s digital reach to sell it, using the kind of posts, videos and other ad products it creates for conventional advertisers.
“A lot of it is coming out of the fact that there’s a whole new breed of companies coming out of Kickstarter that don’t have a big marketing budget, but we think will connect with our audience,” says Ben Kaufman, who runs Product Labs.
Another way of putting it: You invent a ShamWow, and BuzzFeed will help you sell it.
BuzzFeed is taking submissions for its first “Launch” marketing project/venture now — you can apply here — and wants to start selling it in time for Black Friday on November 24. The plan is to do a new one every three months.
Kaufman says BuzzFeed doesn’t have a boilerplate contract for its Launch program, but he thinks his company will probably charge Launch partners between 10 to 20 percent of net revenue in exchange for the ad push.
If you’ve followed Kaufman’s career, you will recognize echoes of what he’s doing from an earlier venture: He was formerly the CEO of Quirky, a group-sourced invention factory that was supposed to help small-time makers get their products built and sold.
Quirky eventually filed for bankruptcy, and Kaufmann says that one of the chief stumbling blocks the company faced was that it didn’t have the ability to market products at scale. He figures this could have fixed that problem: “This will allow them to act like they are Samsung, or P&G.”