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article imageBBC uses Facebook Messenger bot to reconnect you with nature

By James Walker     Mar 8, 2017 in Technology
The BBC has announced a new Facebook Messenger bot to tie in with the U.S. launch of its Planet Earth II nature documentary. The bot builds you a personalised video of wildlife highlights based on your responses to a few simple questions.
Bots are a rapidly growing component of messaging apps and Facebook's platform is currently one of the market leaders. Developers are slowly getting on board, releasing bots to let you automate your life, get information quickly and order products on the go. In partnership with London-based production company Monterosa, the BBC has used the technology for a different purpose, aiming to stimulate users' interest in nature.
The BBC's acclaimed Planet Earth II series of documentaries premiered in the U.S. last month. As fans finish watching the films, the BBC and Monterosa hope they'll give the bot a try. It sources footage from the BBC archives to produce an individualised montage of scenes reflecting your interests.
Once you've added the bot on Messenger, it'll ask you a short set of questions. You provide answers by tapping the option buttons. Monterosa's FanBot platform then combines the responses into a "Happiness Profile" that's used to uniquely build your video. Clips from the BBC's archives are stitched together by an automated tag matching system. It picks relevant videos based on your responses.
The finished video is a personal look into the living Earth and ecosystems across the world. The BBC and Monterosa intend it to inspire a wider interest in wildlife and natural history, intending videos to be shared on social media.
As bot usage increases, the range of integrations available is steadily increasing. The BBC's partnership with Monterosa is a unique way to use the technology, extending the impact of Planet Earth II by encouraging people to stay engaged with its content after the show ends.
Monterosa is no stranger to fan interaction technology, having previously created the chart-topping I'm A Celebrity app for the UK TV show of the same name. The company noted that the Planet Earth II bot blends three of technology's most promising emerging sectors: video, personally tailored content and automation. By combining all three, the bot could increase interest in natural history and the environment amongst young Americans at a time when its protection is threatened.
"Personalisation, short-form video and bots are three of the hottest topics in entertainment," said Tom McDonnell, Monterosa CEO. "We’re thrilled to partner with the BBC to break new ground with the launch of FanBot, utilising the growing Messenger platform as a new channel for video and the BBC’s amazing natural history footage."
This isn't the BBC's first effort to extend Planet Earth II with digital integrations. Ahead of its U.S. launch last month, the company promoted the series on Snapchat as part of the app's recently-launched "Shows" feature. Footage that didn't make it into the production films was repurposed as extra snippets shown on Snapchat.
"We’re always looking at new and innovative ways to bring BBC Earth’s vast archive of incredible natural history content to our audiences around the world," said Alex Ayling, Head of Digital Studios at BBC Worldwide. "We’re excited to partner with a leader in digital innovation like Monterosa, so that our fans can – for the first time – create personalised moments of Real Happiness and share them online to give even more people a chance to enjoy their uplifting effect."
You can access the bot by searching for "bbcearth" on Messenger or clicking this link.
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