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When news breaks, a frantic mobile game is played by publishers to ensure content is viewed by as many as users as possible.

BBC World News acquires over 50% its inbound traffic from mobile devices. During the Paris attacks in November, that number rose rapidly to 80%.

BBC Global News chief executive, Jim Egan spoke to Digiday’s Jessica Davies about the corporation’s approach to mobile strategy and how it is actively training journalists to prioritise mobile presentation over desktop.

“In such a noisy online landscape, how do you ensure you stand out?
By sticking to what we do best: impartiality, accuracy, independent journalism. It may seem old fashioned, but it’s critical in such a noisy landscape, particularly with social sites like Twitter and Facebook. It is crucial our reporting is accurate, independent and provides insight and understanding, rather than fermenting discourse.

How big a part does mobile play?
Over half of our traffic is from mobile devices, and we’re at a point now were all fast-developing stories are consumed on mobile. It’s important that users can capture content on their phones and use Periscope and other platforms to live stream content. In particular, we’re seeing dramatic growth of video consumption on mobile.

What’s your approach to publishing directly to third-party platforms?
We have an active third-party syndication-distribution strategy and use everything from Flipboard to Facebook, Spotify to Apple News, and we’re pleased with how those are going. I don’t agonise over the potential brand damage that can occur from buying into third-party platforms. Working with big brands can help aid audience growth.

How so? What’s your approach to publishing directly to third-party platforms?
If you’re a Brit, it’s hard to understand how your content is consumed and perceived outside the UK. If you can reach audiences on social platforms, people who may never come to you directly, then that’s good. The cannibalisation risk of doing damage to our own platforms by reaching out to other audiences on other platforms, I don’t see as a problem.

What has the past year taught you? How so?
I’ve learned just how quickly this industry changes. Ad blocking was being talked about 12 months ago but not being obsessed about in the way it is now. It makes it a challenging industry to work in, and the pace of change is bewildering.

Is ad blocking a concern for you?
Ad blocking is a concern strategically, but in the day-to-day, it’s not having a devastating impact. But the long-term consequences of it are a dominant issue. How is content going to be paid for, and how will we arrive at a positive relationship between publishers, advertisers and consumers? We’re in a very difficult phase at the moment, and we want to help figure out how to help in that.”

To read the full interview, visit Digiday.

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