BBC RSS Push Eyes U.S. Web Users

NEW YORK The BBC plans to break a U.S. ad campaign next week that streams BBC.com headlines into banner ads.

The Really Simple Syndication news feeds are targeted to the media placements. Ad units running on entertainment sites will carry BBC lifestyle story headlines; those on NYTimes.com and WashingtonPost.com will include political and world news.

“Simply having a good message isn’t good enough,” said Alan Booth, controller of marketing at the BBC. “We feel they’re more likely to click through on headlines than if we just had a great slogan or piece of creative.”

BBC is not alone in using RSS in its advertising. In a June CNN.com ad campaign to build awareness and trial of its free video service, Agency.com built ads that included dynamically generated headlines of news videos on the site. Reuters has worked with Nasdaq and Coca-Cola for campaigns that package RSS feeds of its news stories into ad units tailored for those brands’ audiences.

For the six-month campaign, Omnicom Group’s Agency Republic, the BBC’s lead agency, is targeting “inquisitives,” the at-work audience that tends to dip in and out of news stories throughout the day. In one ad, tagged “news for a nonstop world,” a real-time feed of the latest BBCNews.com world news headlines orbits a globe. A second execution for lifestyle sites and visitors has headlines and the opening sentence of entertainment stories.

Another twist of the campaign is the ability RSS gives to alter the ad content on the fly. Should a news story break that is likely to elicit wide attention, Agency Republic increases the volume of ads in circulation with current headlines from the BBC Web site.

Gavin Marshall, the business director of the BBC account at Agency Republic, said the campaign is “based on using news to sell the news. It made absolutely no sense not to use RSS feeds to deliver against that strategy.”

BBC.com already receives 50 percent of its visitors from the United States, and Booth said it sees the potential for growing that audience, particularly with foreign affairs at the top of the national agenda.

“The feeling is that people are looking for a range of perspective on news issues,” he said.