The Science of Engagement

Our new research uses state-of-the-art facial coding technology to understand the emotional impact of content-led marketing and show its effectiveness.

We asked 5,153 digital consumers of English language international news across Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, Canada and Germany to view content on

Facial movements were recorded on a second by second basis and then coded into six possible emotions: sadness, puzzlement, happiness, fear, rejection and surprise. This enabled us to find out the emotional response of each person and how they truly felt about the content they were viewing, rather than just relying on traditional analytics such as dwell time and page views.
The results are fascinating and show that, when clearly labelled, content-led marketing is considered trusted and persuasive in quality environments, and has a powerful emotional impact on the brands involved.

For a quick overview of the research, watch our infographic:

Watch Andrew Tenzer, Senior Research Manager, BBC Global News present the findings, filmed in London on 21 Jan 2016:

Watch our Science of Engagement event panel discuss 'is content-led marketing connecting brands to consumers like never before?'.

Research highlights

  • Exposure to content-led marketing can significantly improve consumers’ positivity towards advertising brands (with a +77% increase in explicit positivity and a +14% increase in subconscious positivity).
  • 64% were happy to read content-led marketing as long as it is clear which brand it is presented by and 64% were happy to read as long as it is clearly labelled.
  • Transparency is key. In the facial coding study, rejection for labelled brand-presented content was 7% below the average benchmark, while rejection for non-labelled content was 18% above the average.
  • 63% of respondents were happy to see the content as long as it mirrored the quality of the provider’s editorial content. In addition, 59% found the content informative and 57% said they would share it.

Our key recommendations for content-led marketing

  • Be transparent and educate your users
  • Match the editorial quality
  • Be clear what your content is trying to achieve and how emotional engagement can support that
  • Integrating the brand within the narrative will work harder for the brand
  • Placing in a premium environment, such as the BBC, will give your content credibility and allow it to flourish.
For further details and if you would like us to present the findings to you in person, please contact your local BBC Advertising rep or contact us via our form.

To discover how you can create deeply engaging, content-led marketing in a quality environment with BBC StoryWorks click here.


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