Will the BBC's New Personal Data App be a Success with Gen Z - New Research Reveals the Answer

Youth Thinking | 07 Oct 2021

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The BBC has created a prototype app that uses people's Netflix and Spotify data to make better viewing recommendations - giving users greater control over their data and a more personalised experience. Will it be a hit with Gen Z? The BBC asked us to help them find out...

The new app aims to bring a more tailored experience for audiences across the BBC iPlayer, BBC Sounds and the BBC Homepage, alongside giving people greater control over their personal data. 

The prototype is a web app that pulls in data from across the BBC, Spotify and Netflix to create a media profile for a user. Users can view and edit their media viewing history and are provided with relevant recommendations based on enriched data. 

According to Wired, 66% of 15-24 year-olds use Netflix weekly compared to just 28% who use BBC iPlayer. This young demographic was one that the BBC were particularly interested in engaging with, which is why the R&D team reached out to YouthSight - a research agency specifically focused on young people. 

The aim was to find out if the new app would address the needs of their young audiences, whilst  benefitting as many people as possible (a reason why they are sharing their research and results publicly). According to the BBC's report, at least 39 different companies hold personal data on the average UK citizen and 89% of people are not sure about what information is stored about them. Therefore a key aim of the project was to give people full control over their personal data.

About the Research

We worked alongside our client's research programme to help design and test their ideas with young audiences (under 35s). This included a nat. rep. survey of 1,500 people and a two-week qualitative research study with 25 participants.

Throughout the two weeks, participants were introduced to the prototypes and educational materials, taking part in focus groups, online discussions, design reflections, one-to-one interviews and a live trial. The research collected views on the potential for personal data stores as an alternative way to manage data. It also tested the appeal for additional services and retrieved feedback on the client's prototype and potential designs.

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

  1. There is a lack of understanding and confidence with personal data - many people want to take steps to manage their personal data, but don't know how.
  2. Most people are open to the idea of a personal data store - there was positive feedback and interest in profile prototypes that help manage and inform lifestyle choices and behaviours.
  3. Having more oversight and control on who collects, shares and uses their data is important to young people.

Future development

Following the positive reception from participants of the study, the BBC are set to continue development of the media profiles.

The research helped prove that there was appetite for the app (especially among young people who are not currently engaged with the BBC's iPlayer, BBC Sounds or website). It gave the client the evidence they needed to secure funding for further R&D and will inform the team's roadmap to create profiles that are as compelling as possible for their users.

The client is also exploring further developments in the app around at health, finance and social interactions, as well as a dashboard 'data ecosystem', which the BBC explains will offer services from other organisations.

Working with the BBC

Our insight team really enjoyed working with the BBC on this project. We loved that it was such an innovative, future focused idea and has since been entered for the Best New Consumer Insight award at this year's MRS Awards.

Click the button below to read the full article on the BBC's blog.  

Read more


Press Coverage

There's been quite a bit of buzz in the press around the new personal data app: 


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