bbc drop

Ongair Develops BBC drop tailored for young African audience

Swipe to skip, swipe to like, swipe to share: these are the familiar smartphone motions that the BBC and a Kenyan startup called Ongairare using in a mobile-focused website called BBC Drop that’s available for testing today. The project came out of a hackathon held by the BBC World Service and BBC Connected Studio (its digital R&D arm) that invited African tech experts to generate ideas for reaching young, digital-savvy African audiences. It was designed last year in Nairobi and user-tested in several other countries in Africa. Users can try out and rate the pilot for the next three months.

The pilot is for Androids (which makes sense given Android’s dominance in the African market), and relevant BBC content is filtered for users this way:

BBC Drop asks the user for a few favorite topics, or social media preferences, and then continues to learn what they like and dislike from what they swipe on screen. There is also the option of an even more personal news feed which incorporates the user’s own social feeds. The end result is users getting to see content specifically tailored to them, and the stuff they are not interested in being filtered out.

Content from all across the BBC feeds into the new Drop site.

The project is one of the BBC’s many recent efforts to reach audiences in Africa. BBC Connected Studio is currently seeking ideasfrom teams in Nigeria for improving and broadening the reach of BBC content there.

How does it look?

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How does it work?
BBC Drop asks the user for a few favourite topics, or social media preferences, and then continues to learn what they like and dislike from what they swipe on screen. There is also the option of an even more personal news feed which incorporates the user’s own social feeds. The end result is users getting to see content specifically tailored to them, and the stuff they are not interested in being filtered out.

What is the best thing about BBC Drop?
It has a vibrant easy-to-use design and has been successfully user-tested in several African countries. The ability to swipe away anything you want to ignore makes it the perfect way to access BBC news for the smart-phone generation.

Who made it?
A Kenyan start-up called Ongair who develop products that make it easier for companies to engage their audiences on instant messaging platforms.

Technical stuff
The BBC Drop pilot is available on BBC Taster and can be tried out and rated for the next three months. It works well on all screens and devices, but has been designed with Android users in mind given the overwhelming popularity of the platform with our audiences across the world and in Africa in particular. The site collects news content from across the BBC. The aggregation and tagging is made possible using BBC Juicer, a tool created by BBC News Labs, which takes in news sources from across the globe and automatically tags specific topics.

The launch of the BBC Drop pilot continues the BBC’s investment in digital innovation across Africa and it follows hot on the heels of another successful African-designed digital pilot: BBC Minute CatchUp. This useful news catch-up tool pilot was designed by a South African team of young innovators and has been viewed over 290,000 times since its own pilot began in Nov 2015.

Further highlights have included the launch of the Africa edition of the bbc.com website and the Africa live page on the BBC News website. Both of these have provided African internet users on the continent and in diaspora communities with dedicated digital spaces where they can find more African news stories and features. In addition, the BBC continues to focus on Africa’s massive online audience via many social media outlets, creating clickable and shareable content delivered by the BBC’s reporters across Africa.

The BBC Connected Studio team were in Nigeria at the start of this month, searching for new innovative ideas to reach young digital audiences across the country with the potential to scale across the continent of Africa and beyond. The team were in Lagos to launch the challenge and to inform digital companies and teams across Nigeria on how they can get involved and submit ideas. The BBC is looking to engage with younger audiences and grow their digital reach through mobile phones, which are rapidly becoming the main source of consuming news across Africa.

BBC Connected Studio is the initiative tasked with driving digital innovation across the BBC and collaborating with the digital industry to do this. Digital companies in Nigeria can find out more and get involved using this site: http://www.bbc.co.uk/connectedstudio/projects/growing-mobile-audiences-nigeria. The call for idea submissions is open until midnight on 15 February 2016. Ideas will be selected for a funded pilot based on success criteria set out in the invitation to tender document (found via link above).

Peter Kivuti
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Peter Kivuti

Lead Concept Developer at KayTouch Solutions
Entrepreneur,blogger + creative artist
Peter Kivuti
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