The first NewFronts presentation from BBC.com centered on the trust the publisher has earned over the past 100 years and its reputation for accuracy. The publisher also showcased its many verticals and its work with new technologies and touted its feature reporting as some of the most engaging content of the past year.
Fran Unsworth, director of BBC World Service Group and deputy director of news and current affairs, used the coverage of France’s national election as an example of the organization’s dedication to impartiality. As she watched American news outlets cover the election, she noticed the distinctly different voice BBC’s coverage had in comparison. To her, “the relief on the U.S. networks was palpable” once the results came in, but the BBC continued to “try and understand the percentage of French voters that went for [Marine] Le Pen.”
Adhering to its core journalistic values is how the BBC also approaches its branded content partnerships through its BBC StoryWorks division.
Krystal Bowden, associate director of BBC StoryWorks, said decision-making in that division is driven by insights, and the team strives to measure their impact for brands beyond just pageviews. Surveys of BBC and BBC StoryWorks audiences (primarily affluent millennials and early adopters of technology and new practices) are available to partners of the BBC to better inform content strategies.
“Our best results come from when our audience makes an emotional connection with brands,” said Bowden, “and when brands get more brave with more serious emotions.”
In addition to using new technologies like drones and 360-degree video, the BBC has garnered high engagement on its features verticals—including BBC Capital, BBC Culture, BBC Future and BBC Travel—which focus on niche categories.
In fact, one-fourth of the most engaging stories of 2016 came from the BBC, according to the BBC and Chartbeat. One of those features was a video essay on a man born without limbs who has learned to swim, skydive and surf. He has also inspired thousands of people with his motivational speaking.
Additional projects from the features team rolling out over the next year include Future You, which will focus on the intersection of tech and health. The 100 Women series will continue to drive change for people who identify as female. D:Signed is a new vertical about fashion, art and architecture and how technology affects those areas. The 25th anniversary of the Premier League is in August this year, and you can expect sports coverage aimed at fans of the league both in the U.S. and around the world with cross-platform opportunities. And Grand Challenges has world leaders in health, tech, science and business trying to tackle problems the world is facing.
Dawn Williamson, svp of ad sales for BBC Worldwide North America, closed the event by reminding potential partners of the BBC’s goals—to inform, to educate and to empower.
“Audiences depend on us to help them understand the world today,” she said. “We bring those same values and insights to our storytelling work with partners.”