The move identifies deliberate intent by consumers to tap into online channels before making a decision. It also signifies an opportunity to capture the attention of moviegoers much earlier in the process, according to Adam Stewart, Google's industry director of media and entertainment.
Searches for generic keywords and terms such as "movies," "new movies," and "new trailers" rose more than 6% during summer 2011 compared with the previous year, and more than 15% annually. Searches for this summer's top blockbusters rose 28% at premiere, and 12% for the four weeks pre- and post-movie launch, compared with the top titles in 2010.
Spikes on Google search began in June for the movie "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" around the time the studio released the trailer, for example. The movie will not premiere until December. The search cycle, which began six months before the opening, may suggest a high level of interest from consumers -- not only for the movie, but the topics it addresses.
With so much success, this trend in the movie industry to begin promoting releases months in advance could begin to impact other industries that may want to conduct similar campaigns.
Searches for "The Help" spiked 8,510% on Yahoo in the past 30 days, with 72% of searches from females, according to Yahoo. Searches for "One Day" spiked 7,960% on Yahoo, with 77% from females. Searches for Fox's "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" spiked 1,690% in the past 30 days, 53% coming from males.
At Google, a combination of ad buys between June 3 and June 5 catapulted interest for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" to 5.5 million views for the trailer. The studio used TrueView ads, a family of video ad formats. The studio, or advertiser, only pays for the ad when viewers see more than 30 seconds. Stewart said the cost to take a two-minute ad to completion on television could be quite high.
Movie studios are not the only brands using TrueView video ads. Hundreds of advertisers use them. "We're seeing between three and four times higher metrics with conversion and click-through rates," Stewart said. They also take advantage of mobile search.
Studios are taking greater advantage of a tactic Stewart calls "theater targeting," because there are a "tremendous" number of queries related to people searching their local theater. They don't know the movie, but they know the theater they want to attend. Google gets between 5% and 20% times more volume for keywords, such as "Edwards" or "Cinemark," compared with keywords for specific movies.
This tactic -- theater targeting -- converts well for advertisers. About 29% of all search traffic for theater keywords comes from mobile devices, up 10% compared with the previous year.
Adults are spending about 20 hours per week watching TV, according to a new survey of 2,000 people from Yahoo TV and Entertainment Weekly. At the end of the summer, many viewers want to catch up with shows before fall programming starts.
Searches on network terms signal this catch-up; they rose 40% year-on-year during the past two weeks. Searches on the term "hulu" rose nearly 16% in the past two weeks -- a good proxy for intent to catch up, according to Stewart.