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BBC: Giving consumers what they want

Posted: March 14, 2014 10:00 am EDT Updated: March 14, 2014 10:00 am EDT BBC: Giving consumers what they want

BBC is the number one global news and breaking news media on Twitter, collectively with 14.86 million followers. Anecdotally, this means Twitter followers understand that the BBC posts content worth reading. BBC vice president for Australia and New Zealand Alastair McEwan popped across the ditch this March to share his views on where news media is headed in a digital age.

McEwan says consumers are driving need for news and want it wherever they are.

“Our audience is migrating faster than our advertisers, and they’re expecting to access news on any device, from anywhere. We live in a multi-connected world now. Five to seven years ago was all about television, today it’s about finding the consumer and delivering the news when and where they want it.”

This, says McEwan, spells a new age of online content in newsmaking, which is about giving a richer, deeper experience to consumers with the purpose to inspire.

“In BBC Travel, for example, we create inspirational stories designed to motivate people to get up and travel,” says McEwan. “We’re about inspiration not lists of facts being regurgitated.”


Photo of Alastair McEwan courtesy of: BBC Worldwide.

McEwan says visual short-form video storytelling is the key.

“It’s about taking to users to the genre spaces they engage with, and content must be, original and native to the environment it’s in.”

He says, for example, culture content ranges from fine arts through to Jay Z’s latest marketing strategy. BBC’s content has to have both for it to work for audiences.

And with 4.7 million likes on its News Facebook page and 5 million on its World News page, it’s fair to say BBC has nailed audience engagement through producing the content fans wants, and wants to debate.

BBC on Facebook

Photo courtesy of: BBC on Facebook.

McEwan says the BBC’s success is because it provides global perspective to complement local news.

“BBC is the most trusted news site globally. We have journalists all over the world and more sports journalists on the ground than any other publisher. We attend all the major sports events like the Sochi Winter Olympics, the upcoming Football World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.”

He adds that the BBC’s hook is being trusted, passionate and being captivating in the way it tells and share its stories.

“The digital age has hailed in an era of immersive storytelling. Content needs to deliver a value exchange to its audience; it’s not about pushing commercial messages to users.”

The BBC achieves a high level of written and video content by creating it in-house, produced by the renowned BBC editorial team. McEwan adds that everyone wins in this situation because the content is kept to news high standards while having the advantage that it is owned by the client.

And it works!

McEwan says partnered native content on the BBC website that adds value to viewers has proven to attract interaction with users, with 32 per cent of people clicking through to brand content, as opposed to the 19 per cent who are engaging with traditional advertising banner ads. Bear in mind too that the BBC has 58 million unique viewers throughout the world, and 700K in New Zealand. This is a lot of click-throughs.

The main take-out McEwan wants New Zealand to learn from is that this is a global phenomenon and New Zealand is lagging behind.

“Everyone is investing heavily in online video content, and industry needs to educate advertisers and brands why it’s so important.”

Photo courtesy of: BBC World News.