Google released a study Monday demonstrating how search can predict the demand for video games with examples from Electronic Arts, but the method could also support the cycle along the purchase path from release to post launch for other brands.
Google found that search data and clicks can identify and influence 84% of sales during a 10-month launch cycle. Using data from analyses to create a predictive model, the tech company found that games accruing 250,000 clicks in the 10 months surrounding the launch will likely sell between 2 million and 4 million units in the first four months after release.
Aside from searches, Google plans to build in game quality, TV investment, online display investment, and social buzz to create a multivariate model for future analysis.
Gamers are researching more online during the six months leading up to the launch to evaluate the titles to purchase. In fact, Google found that 40% of game-related searches occur during this research phase. Video-game-related searches rose 20% on desktops and laptops and 168% on tablets and smartphones during the last year.
They do search for different information as they make their way through the purchase path. The study points to more searches related to publisher-released assets during per-launch, advanced information like tips during the launch and extensions after release.
Up to four months after a product's release, information remains in high demand. Undecided buyers search for reviews, while those who have already purchased research whether to extend their experience by buying downloadable extension content.
Gamers not only leverage mobile as a purchase device, but also as a secondary screen. In fact, one in five who make a purchase search during the launch and 27% of those related to tips during post-launch take place on mobile.
Adam Stewart, Google Media & Entertainment director, said gamers are using their smartphones and tablets as secondary devices while playing games, looking for tips and information on downloadable content (DLC). "Overall, we found that 15% of DLC searches at launch, and 21% of DLC searches during the three months post-launch, happen on mobile devices," he said. "We found 23% of all tips searches occur during the launch month, and 27% of all tips searches during post-launch take place on mobile devices."
Similar to desktop, Stewart said the study identifies that DLC is the fourth-most-searched category in the month of launch, and it’s also the second-most-searched category in the three months following launch on mobile devices.
Stewart admits one of the most interesting aspects of the research was quantifying the relationship between online engagement and game unit sales.
"We were able to leverage AdWords click data and game unit sales to create a model that can actually predict 84% of game unit sales," he said. "Also, when a user searches for a video game and then chooses to click on the AdWords ad rather than any of the other links on the search results page, that’s a pretty strong signal of purchase intent."