What kind of odd bar-trick superpower comes from being tops in the internet search business? In the case of Google, which wields a significant majority of all internet search traffic, it's the ability to very accurately predict a movie's box office success.
Google recently announced the results of its study called "Quantifying Movie Magic With Google Search" which the giant internet search company uses to predict the opening weekend box office of a movie to within 94% accuracy.
Oddly though, the closer it gets to release day, the less accurate the prediction becomes. For instance, four weeks out, Google examines the search volume for a movie's trailer, then mixes in some other data into the algorithm - stuff like seasonality, franchise status, etc. - to come up with the 94% number. Then as the date nears to, say, one week out, the film's search for title rather than its trailer is factored in with theater counts to get within 92% accuracy.
Google's principal industry analyst Andrea Chen says in her blog today "In the seven-day window prior to a film's release date, if a film receives 250,000 search queries more than a similar film, the film with more queries is likely to perform up to $4.3 million better during opening weekend. When looking at search ad click volume, if a film has 20,000 more paid clicks than a similar film, it is expected to bring in up to $7.5 million more during opening weekend."
After the film opens however, the results drop even lower to 90% when attempting to figure out how a movie will perform the week following its opening weekend. Still not bad even though the information here might only be useful in determining where to spend future advertising dollars right before and immediately after a film's release. Now, if the almighty brand behind the search engine curtain can just come up with a way of predicting whether a movie will be good or not, that's where the big data value would be.
Though Google has gone on the record as saying it has no plans to sell its data, but will instead "share" it with clients, rest assured, there's a price to pay in order to gain access to the valuable data.
And don't think that rivals and Google-bashers aren't already concocting plans to incentivize searchers to skew the results in hopes of putting a wrench in Google's new Movie Magic formula.