Media Websites

BBC Website to carry adverts

(June 2006)

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The SNT Three
Full Story: Media Guardian

The BBC's commercial arm expects to launch an advertising-supported website by next March, though the controversial service will not carry pop-up or banner adverts, John Smith, the chief executive of BBC Worldwide, said today.

Mr Smith told that the corporation was conducting consumer research on the international version of the BBC site. A final go-ahead on on the use of adverts is expected in the autumn.

Plans for the ad-funded site have been criticised by competitors, who have said it would draw revenue away from online news services used by US audiences.

Mr Smith said the advertisements would be "low key" and limited to "still ads" that appear in the middle of online articles. There were no plans for pop-up or banner ads, the most common advertising formats for online publications.

"It would be a limited number of ads. And it will not be totally commercial in that it will not be invasive ... The basic notion is to have specific advertising to meet commercial return criteria but not so much that we are changing the nature of the site," he said.

He added that the publicly funded BBC had already "crossed the Rubicon" over adverts by deciding to sell airtime on its global entertainment channels and on BBC World, its global news service.

The site attracts about 1bn page impressions a month from outside Britain, of which about a third are from the US. Mr Smith said: "If you can position adverts around the site in a low-key way, it's a sensible idea."

He played down the furore from commercial rivals, pointing to the potential size of the BBC venture in comparison with the $18bn (9.9bn) global internet advertising market - "a massive market". He said: "Whatever we do in this space will not materially impact on a market of that scale, particularly when we will keep our adverts to a limited number."

Today, BBC Worldwide reported profits of 89.4m in the year to March 31, up 62% on the previous financial year. Its expansion plans come at a sensitive time for the corporation, which has secured a 10-year extension of its charter but is still negotiating with the government over its 2.8bn annual licence fee. The BBC had asked for an above-inflation 2.3% increase in the levy.

BBC Worldwide has drawn criticism from commercial publishers recently over plans to launch a weekly news magazine. Mr Smith said the project was still under consideration and it met the four necessary criteria for the BBC's commercial ventures. The government guidelines state that a BBC commercial venture must fit the corporation's public service remit; it must also be commercially viable and neither undermine the BBC's reputation nor receive unfair subsidies from the licence fee.

"On the face of it, a news magazine could make money if it fits those criteria," said Mr Smith.

A former member
james2001 Founding member
Loads of people have got the wrong idea over this. It's for INTERNATIONAL users only. I remember the Have Your Say topic which was full of people disgusted that they would still have to pay their licence fee.
I loce how the adverts are going to be 'low-key', yet in the middle of the news article Rolling Eyes

I'm not against text-adverts on the site, but I am against them in the middle of a news article...
I think this is a bad decision for BBC News. I know it's a simplistic view point, but I do feel BBC News had an edge over most other news sites for the lack of adverts - I believe it does the impartial aspect of the operation no harm what so ever. It was also a good flag bearer for Britain's online presence, which would be slightly tarnished by this.
Wasn't the old commercial version of the website that ran for a few years? I think it used to run it's own virtual ISP service but now it's just a redirect for the BBC Shop.
Michael was many things:

> shopping service
> showcase for BBC talent etc

i went there as a naiive young 14-year-old thinking i could find articles on volcano eruptions, thinking it was the actual bbc website.
Pete Founding member
Alexia posted: was many things:

> shopping service

# at beeb dot com
# it's plain to see
# it's internet shopping
# from the bee bee cee

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