BBC Studios' 2023 Digital Upfront: What we learnt
Posted on Wednesday 04 October 2023 | IAB UK
Read our top six takeouts from BBC Studios’ 2023 Digital Upfront, with speakers including Rylan Clark, Fleur East, Ros Atkins and Deborah Turness
“The BBC is the world’s most trusted news brand, and we’ve built that trust over 100 years of delivering the global gold standard in journalism with our editorial values, which we deliver each and every day. My job is to keep it that way, but you can only keep it that way if you stay fresh and relevant”, explained Deborah Turness, CEO, BBC News. ‘Transform’ was the theme of the afternoon, and during the course of the next hour, the BBC team explained the transformations underway with several of their products, as well as the personal transformations experienced by some star talent.
1. Big change is coming to the BBC website
Jen Brown, SVP Programming and Content Strategy, shared details of the BBC’s new-look website. “Our incredible team has been building a new digital experience from the ground up. We’re trying to deliver that global journalism, but then we’re also diving into people’s passion points.” Lori Suchcicki, SVP Advertising Sales, emphasised the focus on video content: “It’s really been done with our commercial partners in mind; we’re transforming the audience’s experience, the video offerings and all of the pipelines to distribute this content. Because this is all underpinned and informed by data, it has been really helpful in providing a richer experience for our clients and the ability to engage with our audiences.”
2. Brands are smashing benchmarks
“For us, it’s really, really important to remember that these business audiences are people.”, said Ursula Horne, Head of Insights, as she launched the BBC’s new report, ‘The B2B Web of Influence’. “You can't just talk about reaching them in these absolute and numerical terms” she continued, “you have to think about communicating with them in a meaningful way - they are human beings and they too, are led by emotions.” The web ties together macroeconomic factors, internal layering, external networks and the role of the media. “All of this sits against this background of rising customer centricity and personalisation within B2B marketing”, said Horne. “If you understand who is influencing your business decision-maker target audience, and how they’re being influenced, you have this really rich context in which to activate your campaigns and certainly drive effectiveness. And we think that understanding this web of influence can help you do that.”
3. A mission statement for BBC News
Deborah Turness, CEO, BBC News, outlined the rationale behind crafting a new mission statement for BBC News: “The opportunity is to press the pause button and listen to our audiences, and we’ve undertaken the biggest piece of research I’ve done in my career to really listen and understand what our audiences around the UK and across the world, what they need from us today.” The BBC have fused together hundreds of hours of conversations with their audiences with the BBC’s mission, purpose and values, to create the mission statement, which boils down to: clarity, courage, fairness, respect and transparency.
4. The transformation of branded content
The BBC’s content studio, BBC StoryWorks, is challenging its thinking about how it reaches its audiences, including embracing a social-first and platform-specific mindset for its branded content. “Our campaigns are proven to move the needle, with 85% of audiences having taken action after consuming our branded content. When people watch and read our output, they really engage with it”, said Samantha Adams, VP Advertising Sales in Western Europe. Jainnie Cho, VP EMEA, BBC StoryWorks added: “At StoryWorks, we help B2B brands think more like B2C brands, by telling emotionally engaging stories that establish long-term memory. The updated website will allow for branded content to appear as the organic and natural extension of our editorial output”. Cho concluded: “Ultimately at StoryWorks, we’re connecting the dots between marketing, journalism and entertainment. We’re not just here to make ads that glorify brands, we’re telling real-life genuine stories and we’re excited about how the transformation of our product presents so many possibilities to connect with our audiences in even more meaningful, intimate and immersive ways.”
5. Communicating with clarity & confidence
BBC News Analysis Editor, Ros Atkins, gave three pieces of communication advice from his new book, ‘The Art of Explanation: How to Communicate with Clarity and Confidence’. “Firstly, think about exactly what you’re trying to do when you’re communicating”, he said. “Second, make it as simple as possible, because the more consumable it is, the more likely it is that people will understand what you’re saying and will act on it. The third tip would be to calibrate it for who you’re speaking to - the more you calibrate it for whoever you’re addressing, the more likely it is to hit the spot.”
6. Rylan Clark & Fleur East on their personal transformations
BBC presenters Rylan Clark and Fleur East spoke about their transformations from X Factor stars to presenting TV. “You shouldn't be frightened of change, you shouldn't be frightened of transforming yourself, whether that’s physically, mentally - however you want to do that”, Rylan said. “Because actually, the things that we’re most frightened of sometimes bring the biggest pay-offs.” East agreed: “Starting out on that path opened up all of these amazing doors and gave me so many opportunities”, she said. “It feeds into all of the things I do as a radio host, and a TV presenter, it all works and it’s a 360 career”, she added. Finally, Clark announced a new TV show for BBC that he’s just finished filming with Rob Rinder. “It’s us two going to Venice, Florence and Rome, and we’re doing The Grand Tour. It was really, really fun, we got to do some amazing experiences that money can't buy. Basically, Rob was there to teach me about art and culture, and I was there to teach him how to dance on bars.”
Find out more about this year’s Digital Upfronts here.