Google Search Predicts Movie Box-Office Revenue

Searches on Google foresee presidential outcomes and consumer buying trends. Now the search engine says it can predict box-office performance as it relates to movie search intent by analyzing organic and paid-search trends.

The "Quantifying Movie Magic with Google Search" study released Thursday analyzes 99 movies released last year. It suggests that moviegoers consult 13 sources expecting real-time information before making a decision. While overall new movie releases fell last year, searches in the movie category on Google search rose 56% compared with the prior year.

The findings show a strong correlation between trailer-related search trends on Google and YouTube four weeks from a movie's release and the revenue it will generate during the opening weekend. At week four, trailer search volume on Google, combined with the franchise status of the movie and the season, can predict opening weekend box-office revenue with 94% accuracy.



Some 48% of moviegoers decide the film to watch the day they purchase their ticket. Some 70% of the variation in box-office performance can be explained with search query volume one day prior to the movie's release.

Aside from organic searches, search ad click volume also provides predictive modeling. Google examined 30 variables and dropped non-statistical variables to build a model containing search query volume and search ad click volume in a seven-day period prior to release date, theater count and franchise status.

From this analysis, Google concludes that in the seven days prior to the opening, if one receives 250,000 search queries more than a similar film, the film with more queries will likely generate up to $4.3 million more 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, according to the study.

Brand and non-branded terms are equally important during specific times in a movie's life cycle, from theatrical to home release. Film-specific title keywords spike during the week of release for movies such as "The Hunger Games," "Avengers" and "The Dark Knight."

During slow periods or between release cycles, generic non-title keywords work better to catch consumer attention.

A better understanding of how moviegoers search for information can give marketers the insight to analyze organic searches, paid clicks and search retargeting campaigns.

1 comment about "Google Search Predicts Movie Box-Office Revenue".
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  1. Pamela Horovitz from Internet Video Archive, June 7, 2013 at 11:33 a.m.

    We've seen similar patterns of interest in movies as relates to the number of plays the trailers for the movie receives. We now generate two different charts: Movies Releasing This Week, Top 40 Most Anticipated. You can find them along with our analysis at

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