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BBC Worldwide is looking to build single customer profiles across its digital portfolio as it continues to drive its content and commercial growth strategy.

The commercial arm of the BBC will focus on core growth areas including relaunching its ecommerce platform, mobile development and harnessing data to shape and inform future content experiences, according to chief digital officer Daniel Heaf (pictured).

“There are two types of data I obsess about and areas I think we can always improve on. Firstly there is analytical data whereby we can see what our audiences are doing across our multiple sites, services and platforms – how many people watch Global iPlayer on connected TVs versus tablets versus smartphones for example; are they more or less likely to churn if they are watching it on the TV; are they moving between BBC.com to Topgear.com to Lonelyplanet.com? All these kinds of things we need to get good at,” he said.

Another critical component is better understanding who its customers are, and establishing a single view of them across its digital portfolio, according to Heaf. “We are not there yet but that is certainly an ambition,” he said.

This could in turn help it refine its personalised content experiences and tailor messages to individual customers. “Can we also ensure we are giving our customers a service that is tailored to them – a service they really want as opposed to a more generic US edition or Asia edition for example? Maybe we can be more specific than that. We are constantly looking at ways to use data to bring a better experience to users,” said Heaf.

Establishing who the customer is, obtaining permission to address them, and subsequently choose what content to serve them are the three core areas to help drive this, according to Heaf. “We are in the very simple stages of that right now. We are learning and being careful and cautious. We want to see the results before going all out in this area,” he added.

Mobile development is one of its biggest focus areas, with the broadcaster seeing a “huge” amount of traffic come via such devices, according to Heaf. Increasing its understanding of what is the future of advertising on mobile devices and what people expect from the devices in comparison to the big TV screen are areas it is keen to explore. “There is tons of innovation still to happen there,” said Heaf.

Last week it announced the appointment of Financial Times chief and technology officer Michael Fleshman to the newly created role of senior VP of consumer digital technology, across Global iPlayer, TopGear.com and BBCShop.com.

He will also sit across BBC Worldwide’s mobile technology specialist team, based in San Fransisco, reporting into Heaf.

Fleshman will play a key role in ensuring BBC Worldwide creates a consistent, joined-up technology blueprint across the organisation. Heaf sees this as vital to its future success and revenue targets, the latter of which will see digital gross revenue top 15% of total turnover by 2015.

“It is critical not to view technology in silos. It’s about an overarching blueprint and thinking of ourselves as a cohesive architecture rather than a set of business that have built up and become profitable in their own right,” said Heaf.

BBC Worldwide is on track to relaunch its ecommerce platform in the next year, and still harbours ambitions to create a manufacturing-on-demand service for digital products, as a means of monetising its content archive (nma.co.uk 9 November 2011).

The relaunch is an important part of its digital strategy which centres on striking a more even balance between transactional and digital ad sales revenue, according to Heaf. “You never want to be more dependant on one than the other, and at the moment we have a high amount of revenue developed from ad sales and we would like to balance that with transactional revenue. Getting the right technology solution and improving that on on BBCShop.com is stage one, and making transactional services work across our portfolio of digital businesses is where we are headed,” he added.

BBC Worldwide will continue to experiement with new technologies as it looks to increase audience reach and bolster commercial revenues. Over the past year it has trialled various distribution methods, including launching micropayment-based video-on-demand content on Facebook for Doctor Who and Top Gear (nma.co.uk 12 July 2011).

Although this had some success Heaf believes the Facebook audience does not necessarily want to watch long-form content on Facebook. “That may change, and we may find a better way to deliver it, but until then we will keep trialling everything and anything we think will make for a compelling audience experrience,” he said.

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Published 19 September, 2012 by NMA Staff

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