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How the BBC is going to kill Netscape

The UK’s public service broadcasting behemoth, the BBC, has been going through some tough times the last few weeks. However a major announcement has been lost through all the talk of job loss, changes in programming and shifts in budget. Soon all the international visitors to the hugely popular BBC website will be served adverts. With such a huge audience it promises to sound the death knell for struggling portals like Netscape.

Ciaran Norris over at Altogether Digital highlighted the potential problems for the other portals and news sites.

The BBC site apparently attracts over 40 million foreign visitors every year, which is a significant number… certainly enough to seriously disrupt the advertising models of major commercial portals such as AOL & MSN.

He’s right to illustrate the potential risks for other publishers, advertising is just like any other business and issues of supply and demand affect it. It’s not every day of the week that display advertising inventory of this volume finds its way to the market place. And while the number of ad impressions available to buyers might increase it’s unlikely advertisers’ budgets will grow at the same rate. The media planners will likely spread their budget across all sites which means less money for other websites.

Given the trusted product that is BBC news and website, it’s not hard to imagine that as a consequence their adverts will be more trusted leading to greater click through rates and better ROI for advertisers. If this is the case, budgets and media spend will quickly shift to the better performing website.

The UK media seems to be focusing on budget cuts which are part of the Beeb’s restructure, however the changes could have a positive effect for international website visitors. In a similar way to the Daily Telegraph’s recent newsroom changes, there is going to great integration between news team. This means there will be more rich content available on the website following changes.

Topic wise it doesn’t get much more diverse than the BBC’s web offering either (other than Wikipedia which would cause even more disruption if it ever when ad funded) This variety of content with contextual display advertising is likely to draw niche advertisers away from more generic content on portals.

Why it will kill Netscape – If Techcrunch and Alexa are to believed since scrapping social news Netscape’s traffic has dropped even lower than before. They aren’t the only ones struggling too, with AOL announcing serious downscaling and Microsoft losing major money on MSN. With a big new competitor for advertising dollars it’ll be interesting to see how long they have left…