Worldwide Motion Picture Group's CEO: Although the world is changing and new technologies are emerging, “the way we do research has not changed”
Vincent Bruzzese, CEO of the entertainment research company Worldwide Motion Picture Group, didn't mince words: His own industry is broken, and new technologies like crowdfunding are beating market researchers at a game they began decades ago.
“I figured I'd come up here and bash my own industry,” Bruzzese told the crowd Tuesday at TheWrap's Media Leadership Conference, TheGrill. “And it's kind of appropriate. We've almost reached a point where ‘research’ is a bad word.”
It's become a bad word, he said, because the results of entertainment market research have become to so bad themselves; meanwhile, crowdfunding research is succeeding.
Test screenings used to be the first time companies could utilize audiences to gauge material, but now platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter allow creators to gauge interest before the material is even written, in some cases.
The biggest problem in entertainment research is that although the world is changing and new technologies are emerging, ”the way we do research has not changed.”
He pointed to a plethora of reasons box-office tracking has consistently become “less predictive” over the years for a few reasons
>> Research is compared to the wrong normality : “Without context, he said, “numbers are meaningless”;
>> Low sample sizes — and bad recruits: Don't query 300 Ben Stiller fans and expect accurate reactions at a test screening for a Ben Stiller movie;
>> Bad timing: Don't wait until a movie is shot and edited to determine whether audiences are on board;
>> And, worst of all, he said, spin — “probably one of the single biggest problems.”
He pointed to a number of common examples of spin, ranging from a client assuring, “Trust me, I know what the audience wants,” to a laughable movie pitch about the greatest miniature-golf player that ever lived, a story warranted only by the fact that millions of people participate in the activity each year.
“You can make statistics say anything you want,” he said. “There are all types of ways to rig research, and support what you want to say.”