Understanding Filmgoer Search Trends Can Increase Box Office Revenue.

It’s Friday night, and the end of a long working week. What would you normally think about doing to celebrate?

Well, you could kick back and relax with a beer like many of us do, or you go to the cinema and watch a movie. Increasing numbers of us do, and why not? What’s wrong with a little escapism? But what film should you watch? Will an action movie hit the spot with every member of your party, or maybe a Rom Com? Decisions: decisions. Wouldn’t it be easier if somebody or something did all the research for you?

Well, there’s good news for movie lovers: somebody has.

Using search patterns, internet giant Google has been able to identify search patterns that give insight into awareness and intent levels. In a study called Quantifying Movie Magic with Search, Google examined paid-ad click patterns to analyse the moviegoer decision making process and predict box office revenue.

Google analysed 99 of the top 100 box offices successes of 2012: why 99 rather than the full 100 is perhaps a moot point, and one that hasn’t been adequately explained. What it discovered was that there were certain identifiable patterns in which people searched for movies to watch – findings like:

  • Moviegoers only watch films after extensive research.

On average film goers consult 13 different sources before they finally make a decision about which film to see. Even though the number of new film releases fell during 2012, the number of searches in the movie category on Google’s pages increased by 56% from 2011 to 2012. Google claims this clearly signals an increase in digital engagement and highlights an increasing desire and appetite for more information.

  • Search trends based on trailers prior to film releases can accurately predict how successful films will be when they open at the box office.

Although the number of searches increase as a film’s release date approaches, it’s the search patterns four weeks before release that give the clearest indications of moviegoer intent according to figures from Google and YouTube search. At this point, trailer search volume of Google, coupled with seasonality and the franchise status of the movie can successfully predict future box office revenue with 94 per cent accuracy.

  • Prediction modelling shows a high correlation between search and paid click volumes and box office revenues on opening weekends.

During the 7 day period prior to release, 250,000 extra search queries for one film in preference to another, seemed to result in increased takings of $4.5 million on the opening weekend. In terms of search ad click volumes, 20,000 more paid clicks were expected to generate an extra $7.5 million during the opening weekend.

  • Search patterns for big movie releases are different.

People searching for blockbuster movies search by title – for instance Avengers, or Hunger Games: people searching for films during slow box office times search for movies generically and look for information like ‘new movies’ or ‘movie tickets’. This information will certainly have repercussions for the advertising industry and targeted advertising.

  • Nearly half of moviegoers choose their film on the day they buy their ticket.

48 per cent of filmgoers choose which film to watch on the day they buy their ticket. So Google believes that continued advertising during the opening weekend and beyond is vital to keep revenues flowing.

Why is any of this important? Well, simply because by understanding how and when filmgoers search for information, film marketers have the opportunity to adjust their strategies to further engage, and more importantly, convince moviegoers to choose their film

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