Google Says Search, Ad Data Predict Box-Office Performance

“Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search” identifies specific areas studios should look at to improve their marketing

Google data about searches for movies, especially trailers, is an increasingly accurate predictor of box-office performance, a new study from the search giant found.

Movie studios and market researchers already turn to Google to examine search trends that could inform their marketing campaigns and box office tracking. Google’s new study, titled “Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search,” underscores the utility of that data, and identifies specific areas studios should look at to improve their marketing.

“As moviegoers are increasingly turning to search to learn more about various titles, we have been able to identify general search patterns that give us insight into awareness and intent levels,” Google wrote in a blog post Thursday morning.

Google’s study found that the amount potential viewers are searching for a trailer in the four weeks before a movie is highly predictive of its opening weekend box office. The study claims that if you look at trailer search volume while considering the time of year and whether the movie is a franchise, you can predict opening weekend box office with 94 percent accuracy.

Moreover, the study found that if a film is searched for at least 250,000 times more than another film in the week before each opens, it will make $4.3 million more that opening weekend.

Should one want to look beyond the opening weekend, the study found a combination of search ad clicks during the week, previous weekend box office, theater count and Rotten Tomatoes score was quite predictive.

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Google’s emphasis in the study is that moviegoers now look at more information than over, as searches in the movie category increased 56 percent from 2011 to 2012. Moreover, almost half of moviegoers wait to decide what movie to see until the day they see it.

Market research is still adapting to a digital age where some of the best information about consumers is found online rather than outside a movie theater. Though obviously self-interested, Google has provided research arguing its search data is essential to any studio looking to improve its marketing spend.

“By understanding these search patterns, movie marketers are in a better position to align and adjust their strategies to capture the interest of potential moviegoers,” the study concludes.