One of the exciting things about brands becoming publishers is that marketers can engage on a wider range of fronts. A TV spot or a banner ad is pretty limited, so you stick to core values and a single message. Producing your own content allows you a lot more latitude without a huge increase in price.
On BuzzFeed, Toyota Prius has managed to spread its wings and take risks. The brand knows that if the content doesn't work, it just won't be shared. The result is a Toyota channel where the silly works side-by-side with content that is genuinely informative.
Take "The Best And Worst US Cities For Commuting," for example. That list, or at least the headline, is something you could easily see in Yahoo's auto channel. In fact, I think I see a list or slideshow like that every month. It's pretty straightforward content -- although to Toyota's credit, the information is presented in an engaging and incredibly digestible infographic format.
But while Toyota uses BuzzFeed to play along in an established content genre, it also has the opportunity to engage with material that's a little more zany and a little less on the nose. Take, for example, "The 20 Worst Urban Parking Jobs." The list is related to cars, of course, but it's really about people being ridiculous. And content like that gives Toyota the opportunity to own a small piece of a larger ongoing conversation that has come to define internet culture.
What's great about this diversity of content, from Toyota's perspective, is that it gives the brand a real opportunity to reach a broad audience with super-targeted messages. The person who clicks on a list about commuting in U.S. cities might not be the same person who is interested in silly pictures of awful parking jobs. But as a publisher, Toyota has the ability to speak directly to both audiences without an intermediary.