BBC World Service used multiple research projects to identify a “critical juncture” in TV news viewing in Pakistan, which led to a rethink of the brand’s YouTube strategy.
“We really believe in recycling projects,” said Jim Davies, senior audience researcher at BBC World Service, “not least because we don’t have massive budgets and we’re trying to cover the entire globe.”
“We find real value in using quantitative, qualitative, data analytics, all together and marrying all that stuff up to get real insights,” he told the recent Qual360 research conference organised by Merlien Institute in Berlin (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Insights from the BBC on researching ‘challenging’ markets.)
For example, there’s limited media data available in Pakistan, so in 2018 Davies’ team did a basic, nationally representative survey to gather data on peak viewing hours. It isn’t at all surprising, said Davies, but it is useful.
“We have TV partnerships in Pakistan, so we need to know the best time to put our content on the TV.” Combining this information with insights from in-depth interviews in 2019 helped the BBC understand how it could make its content more readily available.
The interviews highlighted certain media behaviours in multi-generational households, which are very common in the country. “A TV remote hierarchy exists – and this really affects young people and women in particular for their news consumption,” Davies reported.
What happens is that the father or grandfather comes home late in the evening and interrupts whatever a young person was watching on TV. If it was something they were particularly interested in, the interviews indicate they often then go to YouTube; at the same time analytics data shows that YouTube is the biggest growth platform in Pakistan.
“That critical juncture means people are switching from whatever they were doing, so this is our chance to influence and be the brand that they go to,” said Davies.
That has meant the BBC World Service completely changing its YouTube strategy to incorporate much more of a search element instead of simply uploading TV content directly on the platform in half-hour segments and expecting the BBC name to do the heavy lifting.
“When you look at search data and how people are actually finding content, you know they’re searching by topic,” he said.
“So if I’m consuming health content about a certain vaccine on the TV, there’s this disruption, and I want to find out more – I’ll search for that on YouTube in the same way that I use Google as a search platform and search for that topic itself rather than a brand specifically.”
Sourced from WARC