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Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Builds on Customer Personas with dscout's Mobile Ethnography Tools

Craig Saila and Irfan Pirbhai on how a diary study of Canadians’ UX with the Olympic Winter Games impacted their concept of viewers.

As Canada’s national broadcaster and the rightsholder for the Olympic Games through 2024, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) strives to create a robust, complete user experience for Canadians. They wanted to learn about how its audience consumes content amid a changing media landscape.

Using dscout, TWG researchers asked participants who aligned with CBC’s core personas to regularly show and explain their interactions. This longitudinal diary study offered a lens into the Olympic Games experience as it was lived, through text, audio and video inputs.

dscout spoke with Irfan Pirbhai, User Research Team Lead at TWG, and Craig Saila, Director of Digital Products at CBC, to discuss the project and dscout’s role in it. (The conversations have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Can you tell me a little bit about your goals for the project?

Craig Saila: Our hope was that we'd be able to get some insights that we could then use as a model to fast track some of the thinking around other experiences like, say, an election or a concert, or any big news story. We wanted to know how changing and shifting media habits affect how people watch or experience these events.

Let's talk about how the study was structured and set up.

Irfan Pirbhai: When we started the project, we had a week to audit and orient, so we took some time to audit the existing research that CBC had. We did a number of stakeholder interviews with folks across the organization, and then we did a service blueprinting workshop where we tried to understand all the different levels of CBC's broadcasting, operations, and social media apparatus and how they all fit into assumptions about how their audience would actually be engaging with the Olympic Winter Games.

How did you know about their personal lives unrelated to the study?

Irfan: We had folks who were experiencing real-life stuff throughout the diary study, and they were pretty candid in sharing what was going on. In some cases, we found that participants seemed to be using the diary study as a diary. They were sharing stuff that was going on in their lives outside of the context of the sporting event itself.

What role do you think dscout played in this openness?

Irfan: We've done diary studies before, but I think the mobile experience of dscout, and having that constant fixture in people's eyes over the 18 days that we had them, increased their comfort and familiarity, and ultimately, I think their vulnerability and trust in the dscout platform, with the study, and with us.

Craig: The power of the video for our audience was pretty strong. Because dscout is on the person's device at their own prompt, there may be a bit more candor and intimacy in their responses.

We found dscout incredibly effective because it’s just so deep and comprehensive. In a stakeholder presentation, we could capture video clips, show a customer journey, and illustrate how old and young people are the same in terms of their media behaviors.

How did you feel about dscout compared to other research methods you’ve used?

Irfan: In user research, video is currency. The mobile ethnography we did with dscout for this project allowed for a tremendous depth of understanding about our users, more than any other project I've worked on. We built relationships with our participants and got prolonged exposure into their mental models. It's that kind of understanding that truly great products and services are built on.

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