BBC to explore AI-generated marketing – starting with Doctor Who

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The BBC has plans to experiment with generative AI in an effort to automate and thus streamline the distribution of promotional content. David Housden, Head of Media Inventory: Digital at the BBC explained how and why this experimentation begins with Doctor Who promotion.

“We’re going to take it one step a time, starting simple and learning as we go. We have chosen to start with Doctor Who, as it is a joint content priority for both BBC Public Service UK and BBC Studios marketing teams. There’s a rich variety of content in the Whoniverse collection on iPlayer to test and learn with, and Doctor Who thematically lends itself to AI which is a bonus.”

The BBC plan to monitor the number of people who see the AI marketing and then go on to watch the promoted content. They will test the performance of the technology to better understand the creative possibilities.

All AI generated content used in the pilot program will be reviewed and approved by a senior member of the marketing team, following the usual compliance procedures applied to all BBC content.

“We will be creating human-written marketing copy for a Doctor Who push notification, email subject line and in the promotional rail on BBC Search – then we will be using generative AI to suggest copy variations which are then reviewed and approved by our marketing team before being shown to the audience. Their success will be measured by click-rates, open-rates, and post-impression conversion-rates across each channel.”

Multiple social media platforms, websites and email lend themselves to different approaches to content in terms of format, images, video and text. AI has the potential to predict these different approaches and automatically generate the appropriate content.

In its commitment to transparency, with the exception of push notification, the BBC will directly label the AI-generated content.

Housden began his message with with this statement:

“Experimentation is at the heart of how we approach marketing at the BBC. Testing and learning on how we let audiences know what BBC content is most relevant to them and we know they might love underpins our digital marketing strategy. However, experimentation in marketing typically requires more time spent on the creative work to make extra assets.”

Update: The original BBC press release featuring David Housden’s statement was removed from the BBC Media Centre. In the interests of accurate reporting, we have chosen to provide the last saved version of it.

A new 8-episode Doctor Who series starring Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson will debut in May 2024.