Magazine article Marketing

Beeb's Boy Wonder

Magazine article Marketing

Beeb's Boy Wonder

Article excerpt

If Dominic Riley had been blessed with a better singing voice we might not be sitting here today, in the Hilton hotel, at a company away day to discuss the next marketing phase for BBC Online.

Riley's band - The Happy Few - were destined for pop stardom. They landed a John Peel session on Radio 1, released two records, and sold "ooh, hundreds" of copies. They even got a mention in NME, although the paper said the music was as exciting as "Coronation Street's Mavis and Emily on a tomato juice binge". But Riley's vocals lacked star quality and, defeated, he ditched his mic and guitar.

He did break into the music business years later in the less glamorous role of product manager for Sony Music. Various marketing jobs followed at Polygram, HMSO Books and the Kingfisher company Entertainment UK. In 1996 he joined the BBC as marketing manager for digital radio and was recruited as head of marketing for the BBC's internet and interactive TV arm BBC Online in time for the launch of the corporation's web site, also called BBC Online, late last year. Riley's responsibilities as head of a team of three will include marketing BBC Digital Text, a new interactive TV service designed to replace Ceefax, which will be available on digital terrestrial TV next year. But most ambitious is his marketing brief for the web site.

Faced with an increasingly competitive marketplace, the BBC is banking on Online to strengthen public loyalty by encouraging interaction and giving customers more for their licence money. Around [pounds]20m a year has been allocated for Online and BBC chiefs are billing it as the "third media" after radio and TV. Riley's job is to target everyone in the UK who has internet access (five million and growing) and convince them there is something on BBC Online for them.

Phase one of the marketing campaign began last Christmas with a low-level promotion where the internet addresses were advertised at the end of programmes. In just six months, BBC Online became the UK's most visited content web site with over 30 million page impressions a month, according to ABC figures. In phase two, which starts this week, Riley has opted for a much broader, higher profile drive to stress the depth of Online content as well as its interactive possibilities. In Leagas Delaney's "information" film, celebrities including pop singer Louise and BBC presenter Zoe Ball emerge from the screen and converse with the viewer. …

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