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Useful Insight for Indies from Google’s Whitepaper on Theatrical Release Search Data

Useful Insight for Indies from Google's Whitepaper on Theatrical Release Search Data

In an effort to understand the ever
complex confluence of content and commerce that is the movie business I
attended my second Massive
Advertising Summit
presented by Variety; always a good
event featuring the captains of industry in media marketing.  I’d heard that Google was releasing a white
paper about the correlation between search traffic, trailers, and box office
results so I wanted to get the information straight from the source.  Jennifer Prince , Google’s Head of Industry, Media & Entertainment
was a headliner at the event and gave a nice presentation of her findings along
with a Q&A led by Gordon Paddison of Stradella Road.

The entire whitepaper is available here,
but I will summarize some of my favorite bits and hopefully it will underline
the importance not only of savvy paid search leading up to a film’s launch but
also remind that SEO
techniques
(search engine optimization) are even
more crucial than ever for the independent filmmaker/distributor.  It’s important to state that this paper,
while using real research to explore its premise, wouldn’t be much of a
whitepaper if it wasn’t also a great marketing tool for Google’s search
products.

Titled “Quantifying Movie Magic
with Google Search June 2013″, the report was drafted primarily by Reggie
Panaligan, Sr. Analytical Lead, Google,
Media & Entertainment
.  Panaligan
states, “In this paper, we will discuss how search query patterns and paid
clicks can help us in the quest to quantify ‘movie magic,’ and ultimately
predict box office performance.”  Here’s some of the points I found most
interesting, with my comments in italics:

·     
On average, moviegoers consult 13
sources before they make a decision about what movie to see.

For indies it’s important
to hit as many blogs and social networks as possible.  You need to “touch” your potential
viewer 13 times!

·     
Trailer-related search trends four
weeks out from a movie release provide strong predictive power for opening
weekend box office revenue.

·     
Trailers remain one of the most
influential sources throughout the decision process to see a movie. In fact, we
found that trailers are the most searched for category of information upon
discovery of a new film.

·     
Trailer searches, whether on Google or
YouTube, signify strong intent — searchers are actively seeking a sample of
the film. Thus, it’s no surprise that trailer-related search query volume holds
strong predictive power. But when is this ‘power’ at its strongest?  In a recent survey, we found that most moviegoers learn about a film four weeks in advance, often in conjunction with
a major trailer drop or beginning of a major video ad campaign.

·     
So what does this mean for movie
marketers? The availability of content, specifically trailers, is important for
moviegoers at all stages of the decision process.  Earlier searches four weeks from release week for a film have the strongest link to intent despite a lower overall search
volume, presumably because the most ardent fans are among the first to search
for specific film’s content.

I was happy to see this much attention being paid to trailers because it’s one of the areas that indies can really make an impact with minimal dollars.  A compelling trailer done with smart SEO can
go right up against the big boys by getting found in all the right places as
well as being picked up by more mainstream blogs and YouTube networks
specializing in trailers.  Make a strong
trailer and “officially” release it one month out.  An effective teaser trailer can start
building early awareness for your film, but have something awesome and NEW to
show one month before you release the film.

·     
Since 48% of moviegoers decide what
film to watch the day they purchase their ticket, it’s important to have a
continued search presence through opening weekend and beyond.

Save
your pennies and nickels to ramp up
long-tail search keyword advertising on weekends to
snatch up anyone who might be considering a film rental or download.

·     Additionally, during traditionally slow
periods in the box office, generic non-title keywords over-index, signaling
moviegoers’ (a) general curiosity and lesser awareness of films being released
during this period, and (b) broadening of their consideration set to include
multiple titles.

·     
For film marketers, understanding these
patterns can present a substantial opportunity. By adjusting search marketing
strategies to these trends, marketers can either capture the attention of the
“curious” moviegoer.

This
might be the most telling detail of all for indies.  It’s important to look at the
studios’ release patterns and launch your film during a quiet time in the
schedule.  Trying to go up against Game
of Thrones on Sunday night isn’t so easy (unless you counter-program), but when
it’s done for the summer you might be able to sneak in there.

Written by Zack Coffman, Head of Content,
Distribution, & Strategy at One World Studios Ltd.  He is an award-winning producer specializing
in
online
strategy and monetization
, live streaming, and YouTube channel
development
Connect with Zack on LinkedIn, Google+, and @choppertown.

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