How People Search For Movies on Google Predicts Box Office Revenues [Study]

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Who doesn't love a good movie? Searches on Google tell us that moviegoers are actively engaged in search and use the results to make decision on what movie to see. Not only has Google found a way to quantify movie search intent, but also predict box office performance related to it.

A new study released today, "Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search", analyzed 99 films released in 2012 and has some surprising endings for movie marketers.

Search User Patterns

Search offers moviegoers real-time and on-demand information about movies they are considering seeing. The study states Google identified a 56 percent year-over-year increase in movie related searches from 2011 to 2012; demonstrating 61 percent of people use online resources to research a movie.

The concept of brand versus non-brand (or generic) searches, known in many industries, carries over to the movie industry as well. Google found that at times of major movie releases, searches tended to contain more queries with brand or movie titles in them, such as "Avengers".

During slower movie months, more generic, non-title keywords such as "new movies" were more frequently searched, showing a lack of awareness of what’s showing and openness to explore options.

Predicting Box Office Revenues

In the study, Google shows a strong link between search volume and box office receipts.

Further, the study concluded that search volume seven days before an opening is predictive of the movie’s performance. They expand this further to create the ultimate model which can predict sales with 92 percent accuracy:

  • Search query volume (seven-day period prior to release date)
  • Search ad click volume (seven-day period prior to release date)
  • Theater count
  • Franchise status

In seven days before the opening, if a film has more search queries and more paid clicks than a similar film, it is expected to bring in more revenue.

The whitepaper detailing the study on how people search for movies  and predictive box office revenue models can be downloaded from Think with Google.

About the author

Lisa Raehsler is the founder and principal strategist at Big Click Co. , an online advertising company and Google AdWords Certified Partner, specializing in strategy and management of SEM and PPC for search engines, display, retargeting, and social media ad campaigns. More than just passionate about search, Lisa has led strategy on dozens of PPC accounts and puts her experience into practice every day as a thought leader in integrating clients' search campaigns with ecommerce websites, behavioral targeting strategies, and web analytics.

In addition to agency work, she has led successful online marketing programs at Thomson Reuters in search marketing, merchandising, and ecommerce strategies at the enterprise level.

Lisa frequently lends her expertise to the search industry through organizational involvement, speaking, and writing. She has participated extensively in the local interactive community, as well as at national search engine marketing conferences. Lisa's recent speaking engagements include SES, OMS, MIMA, HeroConf, and SMX conferences, as well as numerous private and public training engagements. As a columnist for ClickZ, she writes on the topic of paid search. She holds a BA in Economics from Valparaiso University and is a Google AdWords Certified Partner.