BBC Good Food on innovation in advertising

About the brand

A 25 year-old brand, BBC Good Food is thriving across platforms, Kerwin pointed out. In print, it has 1.36m monthly readers, six international editions and 250,000 copies of the magazine sold monthly, as well as more than four million copies of the books sold in the last decade. In terms of digital, the website attracts 18m unique users per month, with 75 per cent of traffic being generated from mobile and the brand is also looking to expand into the consumer sector.

Brand strategy 

Good Food has grown step-by-step. The elements of the brand were managed separately: the launch of its first live event, the Good Food show, in 1990, was followed in 2006 by the launch of the website, which in 2013 became a responsive platform available on all devices. 

Good Food’s brand strategy consists of “print for profit and digital for growth”, Kerwin said, before adding that “we will stay in the magazine and events business for as long as they’re profitable”. He went on to list the key points contained in this strategy: create a digital business model, put mobile first, personalise the brand, take the experience beyond recipes and cooking, add value to content, create once publish everywhere, develop the Good Food Kitchen, develop Good Food Local, put the brand at the heart of the national conversation, develop larger cross-platform commercial partnerships, explore enterprise opportunities (travel business, cookery schools, consumer products) and explore international potential. 

Digital strategy

The brand has a clearly outlined digital strategy, which consists of two phases:

  1. Accelerating digital growth, or as Kerwin put it, “doing what we’re already doing, just better and faster”. BBC Good Food is aiming to add new verticals to the website, such as health and exercise, as well as developing more personalisation options for users and creating global versions of the website in Australia, South Africa and Canada. 
  2. Exploring new digital revenue streams: focusing on building the Good Food ecommerce business, experimenting with paid content and allowing users to localise the digital experience by providing a local shopping platform.

This strategy ties in with Good Food’s goals for the future, as by 2020 it aims to bolster the number of unique and registered users (from eight and one million respectively to 25 and five million) and make the largest part of its profit, 60 per cent, from digital. 

Digital advertising 

“Digital advertising overtook the print advertising business in the last financial year”, Kerwin said. Good Food has seen a significant growth of 36 per cent in 2014-2015 alone, incorporating a mix of digital advertising models:

  • Programmatic – the process of automating the buying and selling of digital advertising online, beneficial both for publishers because it grants access to thousands of new buyers, but also for agencies, enabling them to buy audiences at scale and cut down wastage. Good Food’s programmatic ad revenue increased by 350 per cent in 2014-2015. 
  • Native and partnerships – “revenues from this make up a third of digital advertising revenue”, said Kerwin. Some examples include print advertorials, homepage takeovers, original video content with celebrities, newsletter placements and social promotion. 
  • Social – a limited opportunity at the BBC, as according to Kerwin, “we value our social audience too much” in terms of traffic generation and acquisition. 
  • Video – one of the fastest growing areas in content consumption, through which the Good Food brand is looking to move away from just “tools and techniques” videos currently available to recipe ones and stream a minimum of 500,000 pieces of content per month. 

“The BBC Good Food strategy is all about digital and growing the audience of the website is at the heart of our plans”, Kerwin concluded.

Story by Madalina Ciobanu.

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