Welcoming Machine Learning into the Heart of a Creative Business

David Boyle (Audience Strategies), Amanda Hill (BBC Worldwide), Dan Jabry (CrowdEmotion)
Business & Industry
Location: 113
Average rating: ***..
(3.89, 9 ratings)

It’s hard for a brand to understand it’s audience and it’s potential audience. When your product touches hearts and minds and when you operate in more than 200 countries this is an even bigger challenge. BBC Worldwide partnered with CrowdEmotion to develop research and data science techniques to use facial expressions to understand the emotional engagement of people to BBC shows around the world.

Find out how machine learning helped us understand the messy and complicated world of emotions. How do different people in different countries react to different content: from natural history to comedy? From drama to science fiction.

As an creative-led business we had to be careful about how we used this insight. How do you boil a roller coaster of emotions down to a set of graphs? How do you use such insight to support and empower creative people without stifling and constraining them? How do you ensure that this insight inspires us to continue to boldly innovate, rather than regress to ‘average’ shows that keep ‘average’ people happy?

Find out how big and complex data science was applied to the most sensitive area of our business: emotions. And how we used this insight in a creative-led business.

Photo of David Boyle

David Boyle

Audience Strategies

David is passionate about helping people make better decisions using data. He is EVP of insight at BBC Worldwide, where he leads the team that brings insight into decision-making at all levels of the business: from content acquisition to sales and marketing.

David has recently built global insight capabilities in both the book publishing and in the music industry that both inspired the businesses and helped them make quicker, smarter and bolder decisions for their brands. Most recently as SVP Consumer Insight at HarperCollins Publishers where his work introduced consumer insight into the company’s main activities – from brand acquisition to sales. He built a consumer insight capability that delivered a powerful, actionable understanding of consumer behavior and attitudes towards books, authors, book discovery and purchase.

He joined HarperCollins from EMI Music, where he built the consumer insight capability that delivered insight to all parts of the business in more than 25 countries. This helped to change the business from one driven by experience and judgement alone to one that embraced consumer insight as a core part of the decision-making process for it’s brands. His work contributed to decision making at all levels of the company, from artist signing to product development and brand development plans for EMI’s biggest artists like The Beatles and Pink Floyd.

He has worked in politics for the Labour Party in London and with Democrats in the US where he helped build data and analysis infrastructure that ultimately powered the 2008 election of President Obama. He has also helped philanthropists use data to give to more effective charities, worked in consulting helping corporate strategy to be evidence-based and helped Tesco and Dixons / Currys / PC World to use the the vast data they each gather.

Amanda Hill

BBC Worldwide

Amanda developed and oversees the overarching brand strategy for all BBC Worldwide’s businesses and formats. This includes maximising the commercial value of our current portfolio of 14 global brands – including Doctor Who and Dancing with the Stars – and also developing new BBC brands to build future brand revenue growth.

Amanda Hill joined BBC Worldwide in 2003. Before becoming Chief Brands Officer, she was responsible for BBC Earth, a global guardian brand representing the BBC’s natural history content and Walking with Dinosaurs.

Amanda has driven the growth of these brands leading them into theatric features with the creation of BBC Earth Films, exciting live events and exhibitions and creating a new digital home for BBC Earth content with the launch of BBC Earth Life Is a new consumer facing magazine style hub for natural history content.

In 2010 BBC Earth announced a slate of three new natural history feature films One Life, Walking with Dinosaurs 3D and Africa 3D. This followed a four year gap from filmmaking following the smash-hit movie Earth (2006) the 3rd highest grossing documentary film ever.

Amanda started working on natural history projects as ‘Head of Earth’ within BBC Worldwide’s Digital Media Division collaborating with the BBC on major digital projects BBC Wildlife Finder and Earth News. In this role she also oversaw the creation and launch of LoveEarth.com, a website created to market the documentary feature Earth from BBC Worldwide and Greenlight Media.

Before joining the Digital Media division in 2007, Amanda worked as Head of Content Direction as part of the Content and Production team, she spent time focusing on the development of content, brands and genres.

Amanda began her career working at L’Oreal where she worked in marketing as a senior brand manager. From there she moved to a company called Added Value where she worked on the development and re-positioning of global brands.

Dan Jabry


Dan is a PhD student and data scientist. He has worked with clients like PWC and LSE to make sense of messy data. Dan brings a unique ability to translate product development into business value.