IAB UK Digital Upfronts 2018: BBC Global News celebrates the power of storytelling at its first ever IAB Digital Upfronts session

Lucy Hockings, BBC World News presenter, hosted this morning’s first ever IAB UK Digital Upfronts session for the BBC’s commercially funded international news platform, BBC Global News, at Broadcasting House in central London.

“This is our nerve centre for news,” she told the audience. “Stories that break here get covered all over the world.”

Jim Egan, CEO at BBC Global News, then joined Hockings on stage, pointing out that the broadcasting giant can connect brands to a global audience – an audience which he said appreciates the values of quality journalism, independence, integrity and trust. “From Denver to Delhi, people know they can trust our name. Brand safety is baked into the BBC,” he said. 

Storytelling was the major theme of the event and Sean O’Hara, Executive Vice President for Sales at BBC Global News and BBC StoryWorks, the content marketing division of BBC Global News, was up next. “For as long as people have been around, they’ve told stories,” he said. “The medium may change but the principles of great storytelling remain.” He invited those present to make use of the BBC’s branded content studio: “We know how to get people to stop what they are doing and to pay attention. Your brands have great stories to tell. Tell them to our global audience,” he urged. 

Creative Director at the BBC’s Natural History unit, Mike Gunton, who has worked closely with Sir David Attenborough, treated guests to snippets of and insights into the best ways of telling stories about the natural world. “The star of the show is nature. Our trick is revealing it to the audience, letting them feel what it’s like to be in that world,” he said, emphasising the importance of finding new ways of seeing stories and enabling the audience to empathise. 

Meanwhile Gabby Logan, sports broadcaster and writer pointed to new platforms, such as social media, which have allowed storytellers to ‘go deeper’ and to create more of a narrative for people to get involved. 

Each of the hosts illustrated the importance of technology in enabling a truly ‘immersive’ experience, which gives audiences the sense of being there – whether at a football game or in the Sahara desert.

Sarah Adams, Vice President for Sales, Western Europe, was up next, providing information about two of the BBC’s new content destinations: BBC Reel, a hub for video content, and BBC Worklife, a destination for young professionals who want to know how to get ahead and be successful in work. 

And Mark Jones, BBC.com’s Digital Director, showcased a raft of new digital tools which can enhance storytelling today, such as AR and VR. He pointed to a number of new projects such as AR series ‘Inside Design’, and VR travel experience ‘World of Wonder’, as well as a new content destination, ‘Tomorrow’s Cities’, which leverages interactive 3D modelling to explore the future. 

Last but certainly not least, in the final session we learned how emotional impact can make branded content more memorable. Pointing to a new study from BBC StoryWorks, entitled The Science of Memory, Dr Hamish McPharlin, Head of Insight, said that unlocking long term memory is hugely powerful for branded content. 

He shared some of the key findings from the research, which used neuroscience and facial coding, revealing, for instance, that ‘the bigger the emotional spike the more likely a brand film is to trigger long term memory’.

“A key moment for emotional intensity often causes a rise in memory encoding shortly afterwards. It’s followed by a window of opportunity to get something into memory,” he added.

So, with emotional peaks key to memorability, brands can ‘ride’ memory moments, he said, and create content which truly resonates with the target audience. 

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