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The Box Plus Network Uses Behavioral Recruitment to Understand True Fans

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The Box Plus Network commissioned insight and strategy consultancy Feeling Mutual to understand its youth 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 people who were definite fans of music videos and their channels. These are the type of people that record labels and youth brands would care most about − not ‘professional respondents’ who mainly do market research for money.

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

The client wanted to fully understand young people’s motivations and the subconscious needs driving their behavior. 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 behavioral 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.



We needed people who regularly viewed music videos, including 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!

Behavioral Recruitment using Facebook’s detailed behavioral, attitudinal and demographic data allowed us to reach the most appropriate potential participants with adverts inviting them to take part. Over 150 different adverts were created to optimize the campaign by A/B testing imagery, creative and targeting.

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 get insights into audience needs, Feeling Mutual worked with a consumer psychologist before designing a piece of qual research to explore his hypotheses.The psychologist reviewed hundreds of academic papers on young people’s relationship with music and music videos. They then ‘workshopped’ these hypotheses in a client brainstorm session and cross-department stakeholder interviews.

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

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

The researcher also generated ‘in situ’ insights through self-taken videos helping unearth insights that people might not have been able to articulate using traditional methods. The qual research helped identify a number of distinct psychological needs and also provided video content to illustrate the findings vividly and ensured that the quant phase ran smoothly.


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

The progressive use of Behavioral Recruitment to find a sample of 1000 young people who regularly engaged with each of the channels, allowed the researcher to put numbers behind the insights that came out of the previous qual phase and psychology collaboration. Using Behavioral 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.

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.

"Behavioral 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 Insight Executive, The Box Plus Network

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London, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 20 7837 7270
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