For the past two years, the BBC has been using chat apps including Yik Yak and Line to distribute content like health and safety information in response to the Ebola crisis and the Nepalese earthquakes.
Now, the BBC is building on that experience by using Viber and WhatsApp to publish documentaries.
“Our World: Kidnapped in Mexico,” launching on March 6 on Viber, tells a couple’s kidnapping story over a week’s time, using texts, images and animations in real time. It will cap off with a documentary about this and other kidnapping stories on BBC World News.
The advantage of Viber is that the BBC can reach people in big numbers using its public broadcast channel. Viber has 250 million monthly active users, according to Statista. Viber also has a timeline feature that makes it easy for subscribers to catch up if they come to the story after it has started publishing.
How much the BBC posts per day will vary, mimicking the fact that in a real-life kidnapping situation, hours can go by between developments.
On WhatsApp, the BBC is rolling out “Young, Angry and Connected,” stories about young Africans who feel marginalized but are using platforms like WhatsApp and social media to get their voices heard. Three-minute-long video clips will be pushed out daily over the course of a week starting March 7. The footage will be available online in its entirety at the end of the week.
Whereas Viber can only be used to send messages to users, the upside of WhatsApp is that it allows for back-and-forth communication. The downside to the platform is that the process is more manual for the publisher. WhatsApp only lets publishers have 256 people per broadcast channel. When that limit is reached, the publisher has to create a new channel for new users to subscribe to. The more broadcast channels the publisher has, the more times they have to duplicate the publishing process across the multiple channels.
So for the BBC to manually sign up 1,000 people on WhatsApp, it would take up to five hours. Compare that to Viber, where an unlimited number of users can sign themselves up for a channel. While it takes three minutes to publish a piece of content on Viber, the same process could take up to half an hour on WhatsApp, largely because of the duplication requirement.
And as with all nascent platforms, the lack of like-for-like analytics makes it hard to evaluate as a distribution avenue. For now, Trushar Barot, the BBC’s mobile and apps editor, anticipates up to 2,000 people will subscribe to “Young, Angry and Connected.”
Previously, the BBC’s highest-profile use of WhatsApp was during the Ebola crisis, when 25,000 people subscribed to the BBC’s WhatsApp channel to receive health alerts. Then, each alert got about a 10 percent response rate.
But for now, the BBC sees the value of chat apps not in their reach but in what the experiment will tell them about the platform. “What’s really potent is the power of the push alerts on WhatsApp,” Barot said. “You know that 100 percent of your subscription base will review it instantly. They are much more heavily engaged and more motivated to respond.”
How publishers are future proofing their commerce offerings for post-pandemic consumers
Four publishers gathered at Digiday Media's Commerce for Publishers Forum to talk about their affiliate programs and strategies.
As economic uncertainty grows, senior media buyers expect decent upfront pricing options across linear and digital
TV sellers face a steeper uphill climb to sell billions of ad time in advance, as market indicators look increasingly gloomy. But that's not stopping one seller from seeking aggressive pricing and volume gains.
Member ExclusiveMedia Briefing: Publishers and media unions are still haggling over office-return plans heading into the summer
In this week's Media Briefing, senior media reporter Sara Guaglione reports on how unions at some major media companies are pushing back against publishers' return to office mandates, with The New York Times Guild seemingly netting a victory on Wednesday.
SponsoredHow marketers and retailers are unlocking the true value of retail media
Ben Kneen, senior director of product management, Xandr It’s a challenging time for retailers in the advertising industry. As they cope with supply chain woes and inflation-related pressures, they seek high-margin revenue streams amid evolving privacy regulations and massive shifts in identity solutions — including IDFA, the deprecation of third-party cookies and more. In light […]
‘He thought I was accusing him of being racist’: Confessions of a comms pro on working with out of touch leadership
The [CEO] and one of the other co-founders felt the need to point out that they mentor black people and donate to black-focused charities. 'It wasn't about them, but they were making it about them.'
How Microsoft plans to storm adland: ‘Attribution, CTV, in-game ads and potential M&A’
Microsoft Advertising VP Rob Wilk explains how it plans to burnish its $10bn ad business