The BBC is set to launch an Australian digital edition this month. Its push into the market follows the lead of other UK media giants, but BBC Global News Limited director of sales and marketing Chris Davies told AdNews its “global footprint” will make it stand out from the crowd.
As of October 21, Australian audiences will see a new homepage for BBC.com, with content spanning both locally produced stories and global content.
Former SMH journalist and chief of staff Wendy Frew will head up the Australian news operation, along with content producer Ben Collins, BBC Sydney correspondent Jon Donnison and regular contributors Phil Mercer and Katie Beck.
The Guardian and the Daily Mail have both set up shop here in the last 18 months. But Davies said BBC.com's truly global scale will set it apart.
It will also mix domestic output with global news, but "what makes us unique and different to competitors is [that we will be] connecting our global expertise with a local perspective. What we will give Australian audiences therefore is a sense of how Australia really fits into the wider news story and how they can make sense of the world around them," Davies said.
It already has a considerable local audience. According to the Nielsen figures from August, BBC.com is already a top 10 news site in Australia, reaching 1.689 million people. Across all of it's screens, the BBC’s own figures place its Australian audience at nearly 4 million unique browsers. That makes Australia the BBC’s third biggest market.
BBC Worldwide ANZ director of advertising sales and brand partnerships Alistair McEwan noted that the hunger for international news is a key part of the BBC’s existing popularity in Australia, and not one the network is keen to erode.
However he added that Australian-based content tends to “do well globally” and that Australians also have an uptick in engagement when local content is presented.
As part of BBC.com’s “mobile-first” strategy, content from the Australian section will be accessible across desktop and mobile platforms, and via the BBC News app.
Given that the Australian edition will run as part of BBC Worldwide - the commercial branch of the BBC network - its revenue model will continue the network’s current push into native advertising.
BBC.com has adopted native advertising for the past 12 months, but Davies stressed that BBC.com doesn’t “carry native with news” and that any sponsored content would only appear in its “verticals” such as travel, future, culture, autos and capital sections.
McEwan said an Australian native advertising project will be coming to market in November and will be “geared to go live around the G20 summit” but would not be drawn on details of a specific strategy.
Coinciding with the Australia edition launch, BBC World News will be presenting a special season of programming called Australia Direct, which takes a look into the Australian economy, technology, tourism and sports. The program will also run off the back of the 2014 Brisbane G20 summit and will be sponsored by Brisbane Marketing and Trade & Investment Queensland.
While the programming is separate to the launch of the Australian edition, vignettes and related articles from it will run on BBC.com.
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