January 21, 2016

BBC StoryWorks Reveals New Facial Coding Research Result on Content-Led Marketing Study

New York, NYBBC StoryWorks, the content marketing arm of BBC Advertising, has revealed the results of research on the emotional impact of content-led marketing on’s verticals (non-news) by measuring consumers’ subconscious reaction to campaigns. The research, titled ‘The Science of Engagement,’ combines traditional metrics with facial coding to understand how brands can use content-led marketing to effectively engage with consumers. It was done in partnership with facial coding experts CrowdEmotion.*

The key findings from the study show five general principles for content marketing:

  • Be transparent and educate your users
  • Provide editorial quality content
  • Be clear what your content is trying to achieve and the impact of the emotional engagement
  • Integrate the brand within the narrative
  • Placement in a premium environment will give your content credibility and allow it to flourish

According to the research, conducted in October 2015, well-executed and clearly labelled content-led marketing on is considered trusted and persuasive, and has a powerful emotional impact for the brands involved. Exposure to content-led marketing can significantly improve consumers’ opinion towards the advertiser – with a +77% increase in brand opinion between pre and post exposure. In addition, the study measured** the second-by-second facial movements of people as they experienced the content to measure true engagement and the respondents’ implicit reaction.  The results showed exposure can also lead to a +14% increase in consumers’ subconscious perception of the brand.

The research included a sample of 5,153 digital consumers of English language international news across six key markets: USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Germany.

Richard Pattinson, SVP Content, BBC Advertising and Head of BBC StoryWorks, said, “In a time when advertisers are increasing their spending on content-led marketing, it is important that they also feel confident in its effectiveness, and understand the significant positive impact this kind of content has on their brand. We believe that this study will enhance advertisers’ understanding and confidence in these campaigns, and in the value of high quality content-marketing delivered in premium environments.”

“As brands continue to accelerate their participation in content-led marketing, it is increasingly important for them to understand what contributes to effective content creation.  Equally important is their awareness of what elements are most engaging to consumers today,” said Dawn Williamson, SVP Ad Sales, North America, “To address this need for premium partners of, we are now offering this facial coding capability as a means of measuring the effectiveness of our content-led marketing campaigns.”

Other key findings from the research include:

  • 64% were happy to read content-led marketing  as long as it is clearly labelled
  • Among those with a high awareness of content-led marketing, 80% agreed they would share it and 80% think it plays a complementary role to editorial content
  • Content-led marketing enhances brand perceptions and drives brand amplification. With a +14% increase in recommendation and a +16% lift in consideration these percentages increase when brands are integrated deeper into the narrative with a +21% increase in recommendation  and +20% increase in consideration


The research focused around three core measurements – an online quantitative survey, facial coding and implicit response testing. For the subconscious measurement, facial movements were recorded on a second by second basis and then coded into six possible emotions: sadness, puzzlement, happiness, fear, rejection and surprise.

To understand why they were experiencing those emotions, a panel of 20 media experts including executives from media agencies, key global advertisers and academics provided context to the facial coding results.

About BBC StoryWorks
Launched in June 2015, BBC StoryWorks is a global content marketing team within BBC Advertising that brings together the boldness and innovative qualities of a creative studio with the agility, responsiveness and timeliness of the newsroom. An accompanying video infographic can be viewed with #BBCStoryWorks.

About, one of the world’s most respected media brands, delivers up-to-the minute international news and in-depth analysis to more than 34 million users a month across the U.S. and Canada. Globally, the site reaches 80 million users monthly via desktop and mobile devices.’s expansive feature sections offer readers unique insights and exploration into a variety of topics including Autos, Capital, Culture, Earth, Future and Travel from a wealth of specialist contributors.

About *CrowdEmotion
CrowdEmotion humanizes technology by creating a software that mimics the human brain to capture, understand and respond to human emotion. Anywhere in the world. In realtime. Simply using a camera. This technology has a wide range of applications but is particularly useful within the media industry to help shape audience research. CrowdEmotion was founded by Matthew Celuszak, Giancarlo Mirmillo and Diego Caravana and is a close and trusted partner with BBC Labs (BBC Worldwide’s digital media start-up accelerator which provides entrepreneurs with mentors and infrastructure) which helped to develop and prove their technology and services.