SPOTLIGHT ON: NEW MEDIA: Beeb hunt for online revenue may spark new-media lift-off - Richard Cook believes that the BBC’s Webzine format will pull in the advertisers

Which media owner is ’cheeky, personal, engaging and responsive’?

Which media owner is ’cheeky, personal, engaging and

responsive’?



Any ideas? No doubt that august national broadcasting institution, the

BBC, didn’t feature at all in your reply.



But perhaps that was a trick question. It isn’t the BBC, but its new

’beeb’ brand. Beeb, the fruit of last year’s alliance between BBC

Worldwide and ICL, aims to create a Web service around BBC radio and TV

programmes, magazines and personalities.



The beeb site will launch to the general public over the next few months

and, in the meantime, will be trying hard to fit into that new-media

groove (Campaign, last week). Because, after all, this is one part of

the BBC that will need advertising revenue to survive.



Last month beeb launched the first of the nine content strands - about

motoring - it will introduce over the coming months.



Actually, it’s not that new - it turned out to be Top Gear, the Website

of the magazine of the TV programme. Next up, though, on 5 June, will be

the launch of the Score, an entirely new ’attitudinal Webzine’ devoted

to giving sports fans the latest news and results, as well as what

appears, at first glance, to be a fairly standard-looking assortment of

previews and features.



But what elevates this whole exercise is the presence of the BBC’s

cherished brand names. They might not be ’cheeky’, but they don’t need

to be - beeb can wheel out Alan Hansen, Des Lynam and the Match of the

Day name and sell it to advertisers. The June launch date for the Score

was picked so it could open up as a Test Match Special featuring

ball-by-ball coverage of the Test Match against the Australians. One

welcome innovation will be a Scorewatch application that can be

downloaded and customised so that it keeps you up to date with those

sports scores and results you are specifically interested in.



’The very presence of the BBC online is going to help the whole

new-media ad market take off, and make advertisers think about being

more creative with their Net advertising, because the BBC’s a brand

everyone can understand,’ Richard Holman, the managing director of New

Media Marketing and Sales, says.



The next content area to be launched, later next month, is the TV and

film strand. Although beeb isn’t saying what that’s all about, it

doesn’t take much of a leap to see that the Radio Times is going to be a

pretty big part of the site. Later in the year there will be comedy,

travel, science fiction and ’edutainment’.



’Part of what we are doing with this system of Webzines is creating

communities that will appeal to advertisers,’ beeb’s head of marketing,

Simon Johnson, says. ’And we are hoping that advertisers will get

involved with all aspects of the Webzines, not just with taking banner

ads.’



Johnson has every right to be hopeful - ad revenue is pencilled in as

the scheme’s biggest single revenue source and the ad director, Simon

Sadie, a former associate director of Mediapolis, has announced that

beeb rates will be set on impacts and against a range of

demographics.



Other revenue streams will be developed from subscriptions - certain

games and virtual environments within the Webzines may be available on a

pay basis - as well as from an online shopping service and royalties

from other service providers that carry beeb content.



’Our aim is to make the Website the third medium after TV and radio,’

Sadie says.



Which, if he is right, would make this ’cheeky, personal, engaging and

responsive’ medium the BBC’s very first port of call for advertisers.



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