Google turns fortune teller, says it can predict box-office success

Google has launched a white paper that claims to indicate the success of a movie at the box office, based on the number of searches the movie receives. The company bases this on the assumption that users are more likely to watch a movie after they have read about it online.

The idea that Google has is simple; that most users turn to Google Search when they want to read up about a movie. And that gives the company the data it needs to map search patterns. This data in turn will make it easier to understand what the audience wants and make the right marketing package that can be used to promote a movie.


This is a bonus for filmmakers and studios, because they actively try to understand what is in the viewer's mind. With the white paper, Google is trying to address that need by tabulating the millions of search results that comes through its servers.

Google gets into the mind of movie goers to predict box office success (image credit: mashable)

Google gets into the mind of movie goers to predict box office success (image credit: mashable)



In a statement, the company has said, “When it comes to researching a new movie, 61% of movie-goers state that they turn to online resources. More specifically, almost half are going online and searching for this information.”


Google theorises that if a movie generates more search hits over a given weekend before its release, the chances of finding success at the box office increase significantly. Backing this up, the company said it looked at last year’s top films, such as the Dark Knight Rises or the Avengers for data. From what it found, there was a significant rise in the number of searches and search hits about these particular movies.


Google’s hypothesis says that online searches were made because the audience was interested and wanted to get more information about these properties. Google goes one step further while talking about the usefulness of its white paper. Looking at the search results, the company says that it is possible to predict even the number of tickets that will be sold for movies that are to be released. This is done by looking at paid clicks on movies that will be tabulated the weekend before release.


Paid click, or pay per click, is an Internet advertising model that is used to direct traffic to particular websites that pay for this feature. Google has a similar service, called AdWords, which it plans to get data from. While talking about how AdWords can predict a movie’s success, the company says “if you see an ad for a product and you click it while online, there’s some investment you’ve made in the film versus seeing it listed and wanting to know more about the plot.”


Google is looking at much more than the weekend on which a movie is released, though, for its data. When looking over a film’s box office performance beyond the opening weekend, the company has found that the number of paid clicks a film gets during the week after it’s release, along with a few other film-related meters can be indicative of how a new movie will perform against other new releases and other movies that were released before it. What these other meters are were not explained, though.

The company is clear when it says that paid ads are a good way to predict the future performance of a movie at the box office. According to Google, if a film were to get, say, 10,000 more paid clicks than a movie that was released before, it is likely to get anything between $1.9 million to $3.5 million more. It is, however, unclear how the company came to this number from just the paid clicks data.


YouTube is another important factor that contributes to a movie’s success, based on how most users now go the video platform to check out trailers, songs and so on. The searches that users make on the YouTube can also be used to give studio and marketing analysts a much better idea about the success of a movie. It seems that YouTube can give much more data based on its search results than the general Google Search results.

Thus, the company’s stance on search marketing is that it can really help the chances of success of a movie. And it is selling that idea. While ads on various mediums like television, publications and even a dedicated website is useful, users always look for a film first through a search engine, and most likely, through the Google search engine – which is the company’s main strength and contributes to the educated guess it makes as to how queries affect box office performance.

You can check out the whole report below.

Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search

Published Date: Jun 07, 2013 05:42 pm | Updated Date: Jun 07, 2013 05:42 pm