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MailOnline, BBCAmerica build mobile site engagement via organic campaigns

The session, ?Doctors and Intruders: MailOnline and BBCAmerica?s native solution,? looked at how BBCAmerica promoted two programs, ?The Intruders,? and ?Doctor Who,? on MailOnline?s hugely popular mobile-optimized Web site. The campaign, in which MailOnline reporters wrote sponsored material for the home page promoting the BBCAmerica shows, underscored how a large publishing concern can be a valuable platform for engaging consumers.

?We wanted to reach audiences on a Saturday night when we?re launching a big show,? said Matt Stein, vice president of marketing, promotions and creative services with BBCAmerica, a network available in about 75 million United States homes that presents shows from the British Broadcasting Corporation and other British networks. ?And we knew [MailOnline] now had a great offering on mobile.? 

?Fifty-five percent of our audience are on mobile devices,? said Matt Kaplan, vice president of sales and operations with MailOnline, the digital spin-off from British newspaper The Daily Mail and the largest news Web site globally. The company also has a quickly growing business in the United States, where it leverages learnings from Britain?s more developed mobile advertising market to help brands reach an audience of young, digitally-engaged consumers who are consuming news content across multiple screens.

?We knew that with what we were doing natively on mobile, we could deliver a lot of value for BBCAmerica to support Supernatural Saturdays.? 

Kicking off season
BBCAmerica partnered with MailOnline to promote the start of the new seasons of its revamped Doctor Who series and The Intruders, a double bill known as Supernatural Saturday Night.

Mail Online promoted content that it created on the right rail of its well-read home page on its mobile Web site and in its mobile applications.

Mr. Kaplan, left, and Mr. Stein at SM2 conference.

Most of MailOnline?s traffic comes from direct visits, unlike most publishers, which get traffic via social referrals, making its homepage a valuable showplace. More than half of MailOnline?s U.S. audience is on mobile.

Interacting with the material on the home page drove the user to journalist-created customer content.

A key point was that the articles, which duplicated the brash tone and style of typical MailOnline editorial content, seemed a natural part of the site, known for its coverage of scandals and celebrity gossip.

?We use the exact same journalists to create the content that we do to create our editorial product,? Mr. Kaplan said. ?So, our best science fiction or entertainment journalists are the ones who created this content. It?s transparent to the end user in that it is slugged as sponsored. 

?Having said that, these stories performed exceptionally well,? he said. ?We did eight stories over a 10-day period. The stories generated 200,000 page views with an average time of over a minute. Our benchmark is normally 15,000 page views. These stories outperformed in terms of content creation.?

Sixty-five percent of the page-view consumption happened on mobile, either through the mobile web or through MailOnline?s mobile app. 

BBCAmerica?s priority in looking for a native partner is a fit with the partner?s larger universe. 

?For Daily Mail to cover Doctor Who, it?s already happening,? Mr. Stein said. ?The guys are already writing about Doctor Who and covering it and so it?s a natural thing. It?s not like you?re trying to cram an article on Doctor Who into Highlights Magazine, or something like that. 

?It belongs there so it doesn?t feel like you?re giving the consumer something they don?t want or that they wouldn?t be looking for,? he said. 

High standard
Using actual journalists to write the sponsored content keeps the quality to a high standard, a priority for BBCAmerica.

BBCAmerica ad on MailOnline Web page.

?It?s clear that it?s sponsored content, but that doesn?t mean the quality has to be inferior, which is important to us,? Mr. Stein said. ?We spend a lot of time working with any partner around content, making sure that those pieces are up to snuff. 

?It?s got to feel organic. You just transfer that to the idea of mobile, that the experience in mobile has to feel right. Does it feel that it belongs on your mobile devices? Does it feel like a seamless experience? We?re really happy with the way that it turned out.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.