MARINA DEL RAY, CA: BBC Worldwide is tapping an innovative mix of digital and traditional research techniques to gain a fuller understanding of its audience.

David Boyle, the EVP/Insights at BBC Worldwide, discussed this subject at the New Face of Consumer Insights Conference held by the Institute for International Research (IIR).

And he reported that using digital analytics tools like Affinio enables the broadcast group to secure a much more nuanced appreciation of viewer habits and trends.

"BBC Worldwide uses Affinio to get deeper insights than is possible through traditional segmentations," he said. (For more, including further tips for researchers, read Warc's exclusive report: BBC Worldwide embraces new research methods to drive insights.)

"Instead of seeing what people are saying about 'Top Gear', Affinio takes everybody who follows 'Top Gear' [on Twitter] and looks at all the other things they follow.

"So even if they never say anything, you can still understand who are they are thanks to their other follows. That can give you much richer insight."

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The BBC Worldwide research team has also leveraged Affinio to better understand the audience for shows like "BBC Earth", according to Boyle.

"When you launch a report with Affinio, you can see all the different people who follow 'BBC Earth', and it automatically segments them for you," he said. "You get this amazingly rich picture of the audience and why they care."

Tools like Affinio don't necessarily replace traditional research, as much as complement it. This is shown by "Doctor Who", where the broadcaster cross-referenced these segments with those identified by past quantitative research.

"We actually had to pull them across to our final map," Boyle said. "We still have to do all of those things, but we have to do lots more now."

He acknowledged that this kind of approach can potentially create a "people problem", especially where employees only have experience working with one methodology.

"We can't let a person go and talk about quantitative research in isolation anymore," he added. "As insights professionals, we're somewhat like mad scientists mixing together different tools and capabilities to answer specific business problems. It's an immense challenge."

Data sourced from Warc