Bebo to offer brands chance to reach teens

Bebo is to re-introduce product-placement themed original content on its site, as part of a major revival push.

Kate Modern
Kate Modern on Bebo

The website’s new owners are keen to revive the teenager-oriented social media website and compete against services such as Facebook, which hit the 500 million members mark yesterday (21 July).

The move follows the site’s sale to Criterion Capital Partners (CCP), following a strategic review by former owners AOL.

Speaking to Marketing Week, Adam Levin, the new head of Bebo, says he wants to revive the social media site in the US and “re-engage with the core 14-24 year old demographic who rely on the site by creating content purely for them.”

Levin says Bebo is creating a new video homepage where old episodes of product-placement based series, such as Kate Modern, will be screened. This will be complemented by a new series of productions, which will allow product placement in similar ways.

“We definitely want to see more original productions come back to Bebo and create an array of premium content which will allow brands to take part and engage with these core demographics. The opportunities here have worked brilliantly in the past, and we want to experiment with this once more and gauge as much interest as possible.”

Levin says the site has been on “life support of late”, but is now “living and breathing” again, with a worldwide user base of 117 million members.

The social media site is now experimenting with new advertising units, designed to “engage with users better in richer ways”. These are currently being beta tested on 25% of traffic on the site, and are due to be launched fully “imminently”. It is moving offices in the UK and will begin a “major” agency and client roadshow in the next few months.

“We need to bring new life into the site with rich new advertising options, like homepage takeovers, and better access for users. We will be marketing to try and bring people back to Bebo, but what’s been great is since we took over, initiatives such as “Free Love Day” have seen users requesting to reactivate memberships.”

The site is also focusing on mobile and is working on a more optimised version of the site to work on smartphones, and allow better interaction, as well as videos and games – and opportunities for brands to advertise on handsets.

The move comes as Facebook celebrates hitting the 500 million member mark, claiming it is helping “to make the world more open and connect”. Levin acknowledges Facebook’s progress and deems it “untouchable”.

He says Bebo “is for a different generation without all the family” and referring to the recent Dr Pepper scandal to hit Facebook adds “We are learning lessons from Facebook’s mistakes all the time and troubles like this make us all the more determined to ensure we have the most stringent privacy settings possible to avoid errors like this.”

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