How vertical video is driving the BBC’s mobile traffic
The BBC has been creating vertical video for the last year. Now, it has proof its efforts are paying off.
The broadcaster introduced a “videos of the day” vertical video section to its domestic and international news app a year ago. Since then, the number of visitors coming to the app to watch video has risen 30 percent, while the number of videos viewed per user has grown by 20 percent, according to the BBC.
Loyalty has improved, too: Those who watch vertical video typically visit three times more frequently than those who don’t. The BBC wouldn’t share exact numbers, but the BBC News app is one of the most widely used publisher apps. According to data from App Annie, the BBC News app had more than 20 million unique users globally in October this year.
In the news app, the “videos of the day” section hosts seven vertical video stories chosen by BBC editors, updated throughout the day depending on the news cycle. The Nov. 22 edition featured two stories about Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe’s resignation as president, a mother defending her son amid terrorism accusations and the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in Shanghai. Videos run for between 60 and 90 seconds with subtitles, so they can be watched without sound.
It’s easier for a broadcaster than a text-based publisher to draw from a large pot of video assets. As such, most of the BBC’s vertical video is adapted from existing horizontal video published elsewhere in the app, rather than shot vertically. A team of 20 people creates, sources and formats video for the BBC’s site, apps and third-party platforms.
But the BBC tries to ensure the videos that run in the vertical section of the app have a different style and tone than the rest of the app, aiming to appeal to younger audiences.
The BBC is looking to incorporate other formats into vertical video within the app, like livestreaming and 360-degree video. It’s also testing how to entice more app users who don’t view the vertical videos to visit that section. In the future, it will bring vertical video to its mobile website.
Offering vertical video opens up syndication opportunities, according to James Montgomery, director of digital development for BBC News. The recent Apple iOS 11 update allows vertical video content in Apple News, and the BBC distributes content there in the U.S. and plans to extend that to the U.K. next month.
Overseas, where the BBC can monetize with advertising, the BBC News app has run vertical video campaigns with a variety of brands, including an airline and a tech brand.
As traffic has migrated to mobile — the BBC said more than 60 percent of its traffic comes from mobile — publishers have been committed to improving the experience. A flurry of publishers touted vertical video capabilities in 2016, like Hearst, The Washington Post and News Corp, but the trend slowed because the format requires a change in shooting and editing, and the advertising opportunity is still nascent.
“The challenge we have, which is widely shared, is as video gets published to more platforms and environments, the amount of revisioning — from landscape, square, vertical, short, long — becomes an editorial overhead,” Montgomery said. To help manage its workflow, the BBC built tools to resize video formats through aspect ratios and translate captions into different languages.
There’s scant data around vertical video attitudes and advertiser spend, according to Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer, but in theory, vertical video ads should fetch higher CPMs. “Publishers hold quite a bit of the power as people are looking for premium video inventory, but there isn’t much of it around in the U.K.,” he said.
U.K. agencies still tend to put vertical video relatively low on the priority list when editing assets, and smaller publishers aren’t as interested in the additional upfront costs. The tide will turn when more inventory becomes available programmatically on exchanges.
But vertical video ads will only appeal to advertisers who aren’t hell-bent on scale. “[Vertical video] could be big for branded content,” Montgomery said. “Our app audience is our most engaged core audience. If you’re going for quality rather than volume, this would still be attractive.”
‘It’s not entirely clear what direct even means’: CTV’s rise is not without its growing pains
The rush to be first on CTV can leave buyers blind in a scenario that can facilitate opaque practices but efforts are under way to improve transparency.
Member ExclusiveFuture of TV Briefing: TV news networks are stocking their streamers with their biggest names
This week's Future of TV Briefing looks at how TV news networks like CBS News are adding programming featuring their top TV talent to their standalone streaming services.
The Rundown: Netflix’s subscriber growth sped up in Q4 2021 but fell short of expectations
Netflix added 8.3 million subscribers in the period — including 1.2 million in the U.S. and Canada — but missed its estimate by 200,000 subscribers.
SponsoredHow online commerce platforms can deliver safer shopping experiences
Marni Levine, vice president, commerce operations, Meta In the wake of the pandemic, commerce underwent a rapid shift online, exponentially accelerating and forcing businesses of all sizes to adapt. Now moving into 2022, these trends will only continue as people have grown accustomed to shopping online more for all their needs. According to a PwC […]
Member ExclusiveFuture of TV Briefing: The definition of a household is complicating the industry’s measurement makeover
This week's Future of TV Briefing looks at the definition of a household dilemma that complicates the industry's measurement makeover and includes a video skit to illustrate the situation.
Member ExclusiveFuture of TV Briefing: How TV’s different measurement undertakings fit together
In this week's Future of TV Briefing, let's try to make sense of the different attempts to tackle TV's measurement problem.