The Box Plus Network

The Box Plus Network uses Behavioural Recruitment to understand true fans

The Challenge

The Box Plus Network commissioned insight and strategy consultancy Feeling Mutual to understand its millennial audience. As the UK’s largest broadcaster of music videos, running channels such as 4Music and Kerrang!, The Box Plus Network wanted to understand why young people love music videos and their channels in particular. The study needed to inform a number of key decisions across the client’s business. There were three key challenges:

1. To speak to real fans

The client wanted to speak to millennials who were definite fans of music videos and their channels. These are the type of people that record labels and youth brands care most about − not ‘professional respondents’ who mainly do market research for money.

2. To get qualitative insights into actual audience behaviour and needs

The client wanted to fully understand millennial’s motivations and the subconscious needs driving their behaviour. This meant finding ways to overcome cognitive biases, which can make it hard for research participants to remember what they do (and to articulate why).

3. To validate insights so commercial decisions could be made with robust data behind them

Although Facebook provides large volumes of audience behavioural data (i.e. ‘Big Data’), the client wanted qualitative research to go deeper than data analytics can, by providing a rich layer of meaning and explanation. They also needed robust numbers behind the insights so that the qualitative research was fully validated by a piece of quantitative research.

The Solution


Feeling Mutual required millennials who actively viewed music videos regularly. They also needed to find fans of particular genres of pop music and The Box Plus Network’s channels − The Box, Box Upfront, Box Hits, 4Music, Kiss, Magic and Kerrang!.

Behavioural Recruitment powered by Facebook’s detailed behavioural, attitudinal and demographic data allowed Liveminds to reach the most appropriate potential participants with adverts inviting them to take part. Over 150 different adverts were created to optimise the campaign by A/B testing imagery, and creative and targeting options. For example, one set was targeted at people who demonstrated ‘music fan’ behaviour based on Facebook’s records of the specific videos they’d viewed and the music channels they engaged with.

Targeted applicants were then screened in a detailed survey inside the Liveminds Facebook app to ensure they matched all of the required criteria. Finally, the applicants moved into the qualification stage, where they did comprehension and technical tests, and answered creative questions to make sure that the final participants were fully engaged in the process and able to express themselves well.

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Feeling Mutual’s approach was qualitatively-led with the design and analysis informed by close collaboration with the client team. All insights were validated using a survey in Facebook delivered via ads targeting fans of music videos and The Box Plus Network channels.

Going deep into underlying needs

To get insights into audience needs, Feeling Mutual worked with a consumer psychologist who’s a specialist in music psychology, before designing a piece of qual research to explore the hypotheses he helped unearth.

The psychologist reviewed hundreds of academic papers on young people’s relationship with music in general and music videos in particular. They then ‘workshopped’ these hypotheses in a client brainstorm session and cross-department stakeholder interviews. They also reviewed the decisions the research would inform to ensure the outputs would inspire action.

This led to an online qualitative phase using mobile video and text-based feedback. The researcher included qual research games such as:

  • deprivation exercises − banning people from using their mobile device for music,
  • a Simon Cowell role play − to ask participants how they would market a famous artist’s music video,
  • a daily music video diary − to see how music video is used in different contexts and the associated emotions.

The researcher also generated ‘in situ’ insights through audience mobile videos. For example, they looked at how people discover music videos and asked them to film the way they use technology to access them. This helped unearth insights that people might not have been able to articulate using traditional qual methods.

The qual research not only helped identify a number of distinct psychological needs, but it also provided mobile video content to illustrate the findings vividly and ensured that the quant phase would measure the right things in the right way.


Validating the qualitative insights using a quantitative survey in Facebook

The progressive use of Behavioural Recruitment, powered by Facebook, to find a sample of 1000 young people who regularly engaged with each of these music channels, allowed the researcher to put numbers behind the insights that came out of the previous qual phase and psychology collaboration. Using Behavioural Recruitment ensured that only genuine music fans, fresh to research, were included and this gave the insights from the qual phase even more substance and weight.

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The Results

This is the first paper where a fully integrated qualitative and quantitative approach to research using Facebook has been employed, which reflects its progressiveness.

Clients are increasingly interested in getting more value from their fans on social media. So this approach represents an important method for the future: one that will supplement traditional forms of qual (and quant) participant recruitment. Importantly, this approach represents a way for researchers to take ownership of research in the social media space.

Behavioural Recruitment was a significant reason why we chose Feeling Mutual as we were intrigued by targeting organic users of our Facebook fan page, which meant we could capture real fans. This helped us get over the claimed behaviour conundrum – because we knew for sure that they had proactively interacted with the brand in the real world, rather than as part of a research experience. Michael Chan
Senior Research Executive, The Box Plus Network

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