How the BBC is widening its global advertising ambitions

The BBC is eyeing Japan and Iran as it seeks to widen its global advertising reach.

Last Friday, the national U.K. news broadcaster launched its first ad-funded, non-English news site in Japan. BBC.jp offers business, entertainment and technology stories pulled from its global news service and BBC.com, translated into Japanese.

The Japan site follows the launch of a Japanese YouTube channel and Twitter feed, and video-on-demand syndication deals with Hulu and Yahoo Japan made earlier this year. Ten people are dedicated to the site in Tokyo, including translators, who work alongside the BBC’s teams in London and Singapore.

A local sales team in Tokyo is pitching the site to local and global clients. Initially, standard advertising formats will be made available, with native ad formats likely added over time, said Carolyn Gibson, executive vp of advertising at BBC.

The BBC commercializes services outside of the U.K. as part of its Worldwide division. That division recently rolled out in-house content studio BBC Worldwide StoryWorks, which creates story-like campaigns on behalf of clients and may eventually be applied to the BBC’s Japanese and other non-English language sites, according to Gibson.

The plan is to package BBC.jp with BBC.com, which reports 85 million browsers globally.

The Japanese site is part of a wider plan to better monetize all BBC World Service sites, which cover 28 languages. Across all sites, including BBC.jp, BBC claims a reach of 132 million monthly visits, according to its internal analytics.

A Japanese mobile news app is not in the pipeline, though Gibson said mobile as a whole is a major area of focus. It’s common for people outside the U.K. to access BBC content via their mobiles, particularly in continents such as Africa and other countries that have leapfrogged desktop for mobile Web access, she added.

Its Hausa site, for example, which is written for Chadic speakers in Nigeria, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Sudan, had 83 million pageviews in August, 98 percent of which were from mobile and tablet devices, according to the BBC.

Iran is also an area of interest in terms of monetization. Its Persia site generated 48 million pageviews in August, and it is eyeing other ways to commercialize that, as well as on its local news TV channel there. “BBC Persia has a strong reach there, and that could open up opportunities for advertisers into markets like Iran overnight,” Gibson added.

Image courtesy of the BBC.

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