How BBC Worldwide is tapping facial recognition, predictive analytics to drive creativity

Head of research and consumer insights shares its ongoing quest to marry technology with human creativity around content

Facial emotion recognition and artificial intelligence tools that can predict whether content will be well-received in a new market are just some of the ways BBC World is supplementing its creative output with technology.

Speaking at a Sydney breakfast held by branding agency, Landor, entitled ‘Man versus Robot’, BBC Worldwide VP of research and consumer insights, Joe Lynch, said the broadcaster is increasingly partnering with external experts and startups to better understand who is watching, what they’re viewing and what’s creating positive content experiences.

One of the biggest challenges Lynch highlighted for marketers and insights teams is bringing in data that is both predictive and automated in a way that’s useful for the business. An example of how BBC Worldwide is tackling this is with New Zealand-based vendor, Parrot Analytics, and its predictive analytics product. Using artificial intelligence on social sentiment and activity, the platform helps predict where there is strong global demand for its content in any given geographic market. This could help teams prioritise where BBC Earth is likely to launch more successfully, for example.

But what is often missing is how consumers feel emotionally about content, Lynch said. To bridge this gap, BBC Worldwide has struck up a partnership with tech startup, CrowdEmotion, to gauge how people respond to its content on an emotional, rather than rational level.

The partnership, which has been in place for 18 months, came out of the broadcaster’s Worldwide Labs program, which sees it working with six media startups each year on new ideas that could disrupt and benefit the industry. Over a six-month period, startups can utilise the larger company’s resources to build their offerings.

Using facial coding smarts and the individual’s Web cam, CrowdEmotion can read every movement in their facial muscles as they view content sent to them by BBC.

“In isolation, it’s meaningless data, but in combination with other data we have, it’s insightful,” he said. Data in this instance is broken down into six basic emotions and helps understand product response depending on the genre, Lynch said.

“Responses to David Attenborough are going to be very different to Dr Who, but we can predict what the strongest emotions are of people viewing that content,” he said.

Lynch admitted not everyone on the creative team has immediately warmed to using cutting-edge technology in their roles, noting three types of critics: Those in fear of technology replacing them in their jobs; those afraid of the unknown; and those simply fearful of change and stuck in the times.

“We had trouble and battles getting traction with this technology, and we had to prove ourselves by going out and doing lots of projects that show how technology can work,”Lynch said. “It aids the creative process, it doesn’t replace it.”

With CrowdEmotion technology for example, demonstrating the emotional response to content isn’t something the creative would have known without that data, Lynch said.

There’s no doubt, however, that technology can free up staff from a range of more manual or process-driven tasks, driving significant change in roles and day-to-day work. Lynch said BBC Worldwide is actively looking into the skills it needs to capitalise on that time. Marketing and insights is also taking on a bigger role as data navigators in the business.

“Our skill now is to be storytellers… helping my stakeholders, teams, or the sales team be able to tell better stories and navigate the data,” he said. “We’re passionate about creating evangelists around the business who can see data in more interesting ways.”

More widely, the broadcaster is looking at who has the skills of the future, Lynch said. This involves overhauling training programs, how BBC Worldwide on-boards people, checking in with staff on how they feel, what skills you need, and talking about their health and wellbeing.

“We’re using technology to achieve that from a skills perspective, particularly around digital, as we don’t have a lot of that skill in the business, and we’re having to go out and retrain people,” he added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: The Star's George Hughes

It's been an incredibly tough three months for the Star as it shut its doors and stood down staff in response to the COVID-19 lockdown. Yet innovation has shone through, and if the CMO, George Hughes, has anything to say about it, such lateral thinking will continue as we start to recover from the crisis.

More Videos

One failing brand tying up with another failing brand!

Realist

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after four years of decreasing mobility to the point of having family dress ...

Nancy Tunick

The personal digital approach that's helping Vision RT ride out the crisis

Read more

I am 57 and diagnosed in June 2009. I had a very long list of symptoms, some of which were. Keeping right arm close to my side while walk...

Nancy Tunick

Gartner survey: CMO spending hit by COVID-19

Read more

Audible did such a great job on their marketing and at the same time, there are no false promises. The support, quality, variety all good...

Vitaliy Lano

Audible's brand plan to build the value of audiobooks

Read more

I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease after four years of decreasing mobility to the point of having family dress ...

Nancy Tunick

Parkinson's NSW creates a lorem ipsum generator and goes digital to mark Parkinson's Awareness month

Read more

Blog Posts

Business quiet? Now is the time to review your owned assets

For businesses and advertiser categories currently experiencing a slowdown in consumer activity, now is the optimal time to get started on projects that have been of high importance, but low urgency.

Olia Krivtchoun

CX discipline leader, Spark Foundry

Bottoms up: Lockdown lessons for an inverted marketing world

The effects of the coronavirus slammed the brakes on retail sales in pubs, clubs and restaurants. Fever-Tree’s Australia GM Andy Gaunt explains what they have learnt from some tricky months of trading

Andy Gaunt

General manager, Fever-Tree Australia and New Zealand

Younger demos thought lost are now found: But what about the missing money?

There is much talk about what VOZ will bring to the media industry. New ways to slice and dice audiences and segments. A clearer understanding of screen consumption. Even new ways to plan and buy. The most interesting result could be finding something many thought we lost - younger viewers, specifically the valuable 18-39s.

Michael Stanford

Head of 10 Imagine and national creative director, Network 10

Sign in