How do broadcast audiences interact with companion apps and advertisement?

How market research helped ITV tailor great apps to use alongside its most successful programmes

By Craft, a London-based insight agency.


How people interact with app, programme and advertising

ITV had started introducing apps along with their programming to complement and enhance viewers’ natural engagement with its show. The X Factor app was well-received and successful, and ITV wanted to understand how people were using it, what the motivations and triggers for this usage were, and, how the app could be further improved and optimised from a content and technical perspective.


Mixed-methodology: ethnographic, questionnaires and behavioural psychology

The research started with an ethnographic phase using the new EyeCam technology to collect passive, in-context video data. An online community was set up to follow up with the results of the ethnographic survey in the week that followed the EyeCam data collection, to have participants explain and contextualize their observed behaviour. An in-app quantitative questionnaire with 6,087 respondents was carried-out, to give a supporting layer of evidence to the previous qualitative results, adding heft to the ethnographic richness and texture. Finally, the analysis was assessed using behavioural psychology to understand implicit decision-making and how to optimise the user experience.

So what?

Increased app downloads

Researchers were able to witness how the app added an extra level of enjoyment to the X Factor experience to those playing along at home. The research also gave indications as to how the app could be improved; for example, it showed that the app demanded too much interaction from users who felt unable to put their mobile device down, as it competed with, rather than complemented, narrative peaks in the show. For advertisers, the research showed that the contextual nature of the sponsorship led to higher levels of user engagement.

The improvements identified through this project were rolled out to other ITV companion apps, resulting in increased usage and stickiness. ITV was able to implement many of the findings around content and user experience into the app for Britain’s Got Talent. App downloads for Britain’s Got Talent increased by 40% on the 2013 series and play-along usage grew by 80%. As a direct result of the research, ITV’s ad Sales team waere able to demonstrate the value of companion apps to commercial partners.