To Attract Millennials, BBC News Launches Worklife, Powered by New Tech

Vertical marks changes to come across publisher's site

The design is mobile-first and meant to provide better speeds for both readers and advertisers. BBC

The BBC rolled out a new vertical this week focusing on how technology is changing our lives, and the launch came with some big digital changes for the news organization, too.

Simply called Worklife—as in work-life balance—the vertical will be the “digital home” for coverage on the personal and professional lives of the millennial workforce, tackling themes like burnout, financial stability and pay transparency. Worklife boasts an overall look and feel that’s “fresh and modern” along with faster loading times, seamless flow between articles and improved ad layout, according to Tim Wastney, svp of sales for global news at the BBC.

“This shift is so important, particularly in mobile,” Wastney said. “You know, if a page isn’t served in about 2 to 3 seconds, then a user will simply shut their browser. These changes were all in service of delivering that content far more quickly—and, of course, an enhanced ad experience comes with that as well.”

The pages update dynamically as users scroll through Worklife’s content, rather than requiring the page to constantly reload or ping the BBC’s servers. Fewer pings make for faster load times, a smoother experience for users and better viewability for advertisers.

The souped-up speeds, Wastney said, are delivered using a progressive web app (PWA), which is a first for the legacy publisher. The internet-based app blends the browser experience with some of the perks of mobile apps like push notifications and the ability to read content offline.

When asked if he expected a surge in advertiser earnings as a result of the changes, Wastney didn’t hesitate. “Absolutely,” he said, adding that the rest of BBC’s verticals will eventually be migrated from their legacy browser-based webpages into the PWA’s.

According to Wastney, Worklife’s inventory will be bought primarily via direct buys, though he added that the BBC would consider programmatic buys on a “case-by-case basis, depending on the advertiser’s objectives.” Though shirking the burgeoning programmatic market might seem surprising, it’s a choice that can keep the BBC’s media partners from engaging with the often grisly brand-safety issues that plague programmatic media buyers—even if they’re buying inventory that might be considered “premium.”

@swodinsky Shoshana Wodinsky is Adweek's platforms reporter, where she covers the financial and societal impacts of major social networks. She was previously a tech reporter for The Verge and NBC News.