As the weekend is just around the corner (TGIF anyone?), I thought it would be fun to talk about Movie Magic; and specifically the link between online search and box office success. When you are considering your movie watching plans, how do you find that special movie that gets your $10+ bucks on a given night? If you are anything like me – you might choose your movies you see in a theater sparingly, but then again maybe you are a weekend movie warrior.mos_glyph_hires

Google ThinkInsights just published a whitepaper titled “Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search.” It has some really interested findings that I will discuss a bit below, but you can read the whole whitepaper yourself if you are so inclined.

Movie Trailers and Social Media

How do you find out about upcoming flicks? Movie trailers have always been a key component of movie marketing. A good trailer can drive traffic to the film. In the olden days (i.e. pre-social media days), you would see a movie trailer in the theater, prior to your feature film. The problem with this model is you are only exposed to those trailers that play before the movie, or those trailers that have a big enough budget to play on every commercial break on TV.

Now that we have social media, we have a plethora of ways to see trailers. I often see my friends sharing movie trailers way before they release them as a trailer in the theater, especially for those movies with big fan bases such as Hunger Games, Harry Potter, World War Z, Star Trek, and all the endless numbers of super hero movie we are seeing these days. These trailers are released far in advance, starting with a “teaser” trailer and then releasing more and more footage leading up to the opening day. According to research company YouGov Omnibus, 48 percent of people said that trailers help them decide what movies to see, so clearly this method of using social media is working.

Clicks and Box Office Performance

According to the Google ThinkInsights Whitepaper, paid clicks are a strong indicator of box office performance in the week leading up to a movie release. Not terribly surprising, probably, considering the more people searching online about a movie, the more likely those same people will be attending that movie on opening weekend.

See the below scatterplot from the ThinkInsights whitepaper to see the relationship between clicks and box office success. It is pretty interesting that 70 percent of variation in box office performance can be explained with movie related searches the week before opening.

scatterplotIf movie execs know of these trends, then they can probably predict whether their movie will do well the following weekend or not. But it doesn’t necessarily give them enough information to really influence the numbers or course correct if needed.  That is where trailer-related searches come in. 94% of the variation in box office performance can be explained by trailer-related searches up to four weeks before opening.

This is great information for movie marketers to have because four weeks ahead of time is plenty of time to make a quick change and influence results. Marketers can make changes such as increasing PPC budgets, increase their social media presence, or even do promotional giveaways to improve their online presence.

Like I said above, there is a lot of really great info in this whitepaper, so check it out. Do you have other ways that you like to learn about movies? Post your comments below!