Of late, moviegoers have become more active in discovering and exploring their film options depicting a longer, more planned movie research timeline. On an average, moviegoers consult about 13 sources before they make a decision which movie they must see. Even though, the number of titles released declined by 9% in 2012 vs. 2011, movie searches on Google witnessed a rise of 56% in this same period.
The Expedition to Calculate ‘Movie Magic’: The Supporting Statistics
The journey and the quest to quantify movie magic is definitely not a novel perception. For decades, pre-release film tracking has been practiced. 61% of moviegoers turn to online resources when it comes to researching a new movie, i.e. almost half are relying on online resources for valuable and useful information. With the rise in the amount of information and media influences available, there are additional factors that should be taken into consideration. Moreover, as a lot of research is conducted before moviegoers make the final decision to purchase a particular movie ticket, it is integral as well as crucial to take into account all the intermediate steps.
Google Search and Box Office are Interlinked, But How?
Let’s start with establishing the connection between search activity and box office. If search is an indicator of interest and intent, we can expect that the more movie-related search activity in a given weekend, the bigger the box office report.
We can obtain another interesting pattern if we split the overall search index into film-specific title keywords and generic movie-related keywords. Film-specific title keywords spike during release week of major tent-pole films, such as Avengers, and The Dark Knight. It rather seems that owing to higher awareness and interest levels in these films, moviegoers are likely to search for the specific title instead of general movie information.
Predicting Weekend Box Office: Opening Weekend and Beyond
Opening Weekend: In an analysis entailing 99 films released in 2012, it is shown that a film’s Google search volume during the seven days prior to its opening can be considered as a strong indicator. About 70% of the variation in box office performance can be explained with movie-related search volume a week before the release date.
- Obviously, search volume alone cannot contribute alone in the whole story. Search ad click volume is also a main component of the prediction model because it implies deeper engagement with a particular film.
- Out of the 30+ different film variables, non-statistically significant variables were removed, the model encompassed the following variables – search query volume (seven-day period prior to release date), search ad click volume (seven-day period prior to release date), theater count and franchise status.
Box office sales can be predicted by the conjunction of the aforementioned variables with 92% accuracy. Thus, from the analysis, we can conclude:
- If one film has 250,000 more search queries than a similar film in the seven day window prior to a film’s release date, the film with more queries is more likely to perform up to $4.3M better during opening weekend.
- If a film has 20,000 more paid clicks than a similar film, when considering search ad click volume, the film is expected to bring in up to $7.5M more during opening weekend.
Beyond Opening Weekend
The number of paid clicks a film acquires during a Monday-Thursday period post-premiere, in combination with a few other film-related metrics, act as strong indicators of how a film will perform in a post-opening weekend against new releases and other holdover films. Search ad clicks further remain a strong indicator for predicting box office performance after opening weekend for holdover films.
Analysis: If one film garners 10,000 more paid clicks than a similar holdover film, the film with more paid clicks is likely to perform approximately $1.9-$3.5M better in weekend box office receipts than the other film.
Predicting Box Office One-Month before Release: Trailer Searches
Trailers are regarded as one of the most dominant sources throughout the decision process to see a movie. Trailers are the most searched for a category of information upon discovery of a new film. Trailer searches, whether on Google or YouTube, signify strong intent of a searcher who is actively seeking a sample of the film.
Clearly, the timing of trailer searches on both Google and YouTube serve as the leading indicators of box office success. Trailer searches on YouTube alone show a strong connection to a film’s opening weekend performance. A variation of 94% in a film’s box office opening can be explained with trailer-related title search volume a month prior to release, in combination with seasonality and franchise status.
All this gives a clear indication to movie marketers that the availability of content, specifically trailers, is quite important for moviegoers at all phases of the decision process.
Conclusion: A Look at a Few Major Insights
- The choice to see a movie can be regarded as an extremely well thought-out research process. Searches in the movie category on Google are up 56% from 2011 to 2012, indicating a rise in digital engagement and desire for more information.
- Search provides an exclusive opportunity for film marketers to expand engagement with potential moviegoers. By assessing how and what consumers are searching for, one can discover unique insight into moviegoer awareness and target.
- Query volume and paid click volume coupled with other movie-related variables, like theater counts, can indicate a film’s opening weekend performance with accuracy of 92% and succeeding weekend performance with 90% accuracy.
- Trailer-related search trends four weeks out from a movie release offer strong predictive power for opening weekend box office revenue. Trailer search volume on Google in conjunction with both the franchise status of the movie and seasonality can be used to predict opening weekend box office revenue with almost 94% precision.
- Moviegoers that decide what film to watch the day they buy their ticket account for 48%, thus making it vital to have a continued search presence through opening weekend and beyond.
By understanding these search patterns, movie marketers can be in a better position to line up and adjust their strategies to attract the attention of potential moviegoers. Eventually, it is this online engagement that will give a substantial insight into intent, supporting movie marketers with precise data in their never-ending quest to quantify movie magic.