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By keeping its SEO in-house, and making the most of Twitter feeds, the BBC has kept its digital marketing spending to just over £1.6m last year, which is surprising considering the size of the organisation. 

A freedom of information request asked how much the BBC spent on digital marketing between 2009 and 2010, and which online marketing methods the corporation uses, and the answers are intriguing... 

According to the BBC's reply, much of its online marketing activity is carried out at little or no cost, thanks to promoting content via Twitter feeds (just about every BBC reporter and presenter seems to have a Twitter profile now), and marketing messages on its own website. 

One interesting fact was the BBC, as Malcolm Coles points out, doesn't employ any SEO firms, but instead relies on 'reflecting Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) principles in the design of our web pages'. 

The BBC allocated the majority of this £1.6m digital marketing budget on display advertising, with a bit of PPC thrown in. The corporation says it spent £1.4m on display ads, and £220,000 on paid search. 

According to the BBC: 

To maximise the value delivered to licence payers, the BBC needs to build awareness of the new content we produce and distribute.  Alongside on-air trails, we use a variety of web-based marketing techniques where appropriate, to support both our digital and traditional content. 

The reply also states that there may be 'small amounts' of digital marketing spend across other areas of the corporation funded by individual production areas, but it isn't obliged to provide this information, so it won't. 

Graham Charlton

Published 6 October, 2010 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (8)

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Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson, Marketer at Sporting Index

£18k-a-month on PPC?

I wonder how they track the lifetime value of a visitor and subsequently gauge their ROI....

about 6 years ago

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Gary

Im not surprised they don't employ an SEO firm, i would never expect them to, Im sure they have in house SEO advisors though that would advise the web team.

About 12 months ago, the BBC really started shouting about twitter from the roof tops, maybe they saw twitter as a way to keep their budget down, many BBC programs mention twitter now as a way to get in touch. (e.g. question time, Radio shows etc)

about 6 years ago

Ciaran Norris

Ciaran Norris, Chief Digital Officer at Mindshare

They have employed external consultants for editorial SEO training (though costs were pretty minimal) as well as consultants to help them redesign their CMS system to be more SEO friendly.

about 6 years ago

Andrew Lloyd Gordon

Andrew Lloyd Gordon, Digital Marketing Expert, Speaker and Trainer at New Terrain Limited

I'm not surprised that the BBC doesn't spend so much on 'digital marketing'.

However, if you asked the question, 'how much does the BBC spend on content that is available online' then the figure would be much, much higher.

Because doesn't this story demonstrate, yet again, that 'content is king' on the web? The BBC has amazing, wonderful content that is made for sharing online (which Twitter is great for).

I think that what we need to learn from this is how important the creation of good quality content is in digital marketing. And if we get it right then 'the web' will do its thing and bring us those visitors/customers we crave. For only £1.6m ;)

about 6 years ago

Ciaran Norris

Ciaran Norris, Chief Digital Officer at Mindshare

From the FOI reply.

There may be small amounts of digital marketing spend across the BBC which are funded by the 
individual production areas. However, if any activity does take place, the information about these 
 
would be excluded from the Act because such information is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, 
art or literature’. The BBC would therefore not be obliged to provide this information to you. 
Part VI of Schedule I to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public 
service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of 
journalism, art or literature’. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes 
of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these 
creative activities, including their promotion. 

about 6 years ago

Andy Headington

Andy Headington, CEO at Adido LimitedSmall Business

£18k a month does sound a lot on PPC, I've never seen them listing for anything on my way around Google etc. As Brian says, I wonder how they (if they are) monitor the effectiveness of this activity? Good to see that they are being clever with their budgets though. Shame they aren't being as economical with some of their wages....

about 6 years ago

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Martin Mitchell, Digital Account Manager at Mediavision

Although I do not know this for certain I'm pretty sure that the BBC cannot advertise in the UK fullstop. However, I have seen PPC ads when using IP addresses located outside of the UK.

about 6 years ago

Brian Anderson

Brian Anderson, Marketer at Sporting Index

Pete, I did wonder about this but then I thought that this worldwide spend might fall under the 'World Service' part of the Beeb which I believe is technically a separate organisation and which might not be entirely funded by the license-payer. I'm not sure whether this part of the Beeb would be bound to the same Freedom of Information rules...

about 6 years ago

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