Methodology, Skills and Professional Benefits Participants Participants' Comments MEDICI Head of Training «The 12 Labours of Hercules» Report of the Reports – Workshops 1 to 4

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Eighth Workshop – 26 to 28 September 2018, Royaumont Abbey, France

Module 2 – How to access smart data to better reach the audience?

Impulse speaker: Raimo Lang (YLE/Creative Content division product development for VOD, AOD, TV, radio and on-line)

Please also see Raimo Lang’s presentation (PPTX)


A new regulation is taking place in Europe for VoD and SVoD platforms to respect the requirements of each country in terms of supporting local projects and European content. They will have to contribute to the financing of projects and give access to their data. It will be a long process. In order to create a highly relevant content for different audience segments, a better understanding of recipients is needed.

Challenges associated with data harvesting

Data-Harvesting Case Study: The Finnish Public Broadcaster (YLE)

The YLE’s Creative Content Division for product development for different platforms makes distinction between

“Content Probes” as a methodology

Content Probes is a new methodology for data-based content development created by YLE. It is a systematic mix of science and artistic observation (it combines data provided by means of both scientific methods and writers’ observation).

The main characteristics of Content Probes are the following:

Why YLE uses the Content Probes methodology?

How the Content Probes methodology is implemented

Content Probes Elements

The Content Probes consist of four elements that are all considered during the content-making process:

  1. One set of questions / exercises addresses is “what we know” (explicit professional knowledge).
  2. The second One set of questions / exercises includes the things “we know that we do not know” (rational research).
  3. The third set of questions / exercises addresses what we do not know what we know (silent professional knowledge)
  4. The fourth element is the source of radical change – “we do not know what we do not know”. This element defines the most critical point in content development – the area where dangers lie and where the greatest potential could be.

Content Probes Methods

The YLE developed the following two concrete methods of collecting data following the Content Probes design:

Case studies illuminating the Content Probes Methodology

Drama series “Love Mila”

“Love Mila” was the YLE’s first success series. It was made for the age group of between 13 and 17, but the secondary audience included people until the age of 45.

The YLE content-creators started the whole process by conducting research and organizing workshops in order to understand the generation that was between 15 and 25. The data provided personal insights into the target generation. The YLE also set a high benchmark regarding the style and the quality of the series in accordance with the international standards, which the young generation liked. To sum it up, the YLE content developers made radical changes in the following four areas that, which allowed them to develop an experience that could be elaborated on in future projects:

Length: Instead of producing one long or normal television series, Love Mila consisted of much shorter episodes (5-8 minutes) that were grouped into seasons of 26 and 72 episodes. It was done in line with the demands of young audiences that require short formats when it comes to drama series.

Release window: Instead of television channel, the series was released completely on VoD. It will also be on Youtube. The main character had a live Instagram profile showing situations that happen in-between the drama episodes.

Genre: The series represents the switch from single genre stories to a multiple-genres-style. Each episode played on a different film genre, which is exactly what young people like and demand.

Marketing strategy: The YLE marketing was replaced by peer-group marketing, which means that the content was promoted virally via digital social media.

Crime project 2015-2016

The YLE did a similar thing with a crime project. A writer’s lab was established where guests in some way or other related to crime were invited into the workshops: criminals, police, sociologists, sex workers, social workers from aid centers, crime writers, and therapists. In parallel the writers analyzed in detail ten prominent, international crime series. This process translated into a step-by-step development of themes and concepts. During the workshops, the writers created new crime scenes that would refresh the existing crime genre in Finland with new, realistic ingredients. The lab phase is called “the pre-year” as it precedes the formal development process. During the pre-year writers develop an early concept that they then pitched to the YLE commissioners.

Group Exercise

The MEDICI participants, divided into new group formations. They were then asked to design a co-development incentive that would include audience research. They had to consider the following questions:

The outcome of the group exercise

Group 1: “Co-development Scheme”

We expect producers to provide us with a unique set of data for a unique product. Documentary filmmakers are already doing this because they are very good in articulating the motivation behind and relevance of their projects. They conduct field research thus provide unique qualitative and quantitative data.

However, in our co-development scheme, the data would be only supplementary to the process. Big studios have hundreds of people in their departments harvesting data about the current situation, future options and about the competitors, but they still often fail. Therefore, data must not be the main factor for decision-makers. Decision-makers in our co-development fund should remain open also for surprises and risks; they should not only blindly follow the data.

Group 2: “Fifty Shades of Numbers”

We call our co-development fund “Fifty Shades of Numbers”. We, as public film funders, do not want to commission work. Our main mission would be to provide education for producers about data because data may influence the creativity in a negative way as well. Producers would have to learn how to use data in a constructive and liberating way. Furthermore, we would provide the means for harvesting data. It would include hiring data-experts and paying for the technicians that producers may need while working with data. The experts would work with the creative team so they do not get stuck and “drown by numbers”. The data should be both – a qualitative and quantitative – intelligence.

After developing a concept based on the relevant data, the producer would come to the fund and present the concepts and projects. Apart form the quality, producers would need to provide evidence that there is a market for a particular project. Our co-development fund would be international so producers must come up with projects that involve at least two countries. We would then look into the content and select the project with the best quality.

Finally, the producers who would receive the funding for collecting data would be obliged to bring back that data to the fund. The fund would archive it for future uses.

Module 2

Group 3: “Sexxi”

Our co-development fund would be called “Sexxi” We would distribute our funding in two ways.

Group 4: “Seduce Us”

Our co-development fund would be called “Seduce Us”. We would not expect the producer to have a finished script the moment they apply, but they would have to be able to present their idea, topic, story and format. They would propose some serious research and provide a detailed description of their research methodology, target audience groups and market analysis for every country involved in co-development. They would also be asked to do focus groups with marketing experts that we would assign to projects as facilitators. All the co-producing companies would have to be involved in all the activities.

However, we still find the process of assessment and evaluation tricky. It comes from the fact that there are differences between film funds. Some funds expect producers to do all the above activities during the development phase while some funds do not. In some countries producers are not used to researching audience and they do not have experience with that, which would make it difficult for them to apply for the fund like the one we propose.

Group 5: “Dating Data”

We called our co-development incentive “Dating data”. We see it as a call for tender. Every year we would target projects for different audiences. The first year would be dedicated to new generations of teenagers (age 10-15). We would do it through three steps:

Module 2

Cooperation between public funds in an increasingly complex and international environment: opportunities, actions, ideas

Illustrations by KAK

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