Big data for big movies

October 17, 2013 in -e.showcase

social-media-movies-big-dataIBM recently worked with a major movie studio to build a box office prediction model based on online audience behaviours. The goal was to determine if there was a predictive relationship between social data and ‘Opening Weekend Box Office’ (OWBO). IBM also needed to determine which variables are the strongest predictors, how accurately box office performance can be forecast, and what kinds of film have a higher or lower forecast accuracy. “Movie marketing’s most critical KPI is OWBO, but until now marketers had yet to find an approach to correlate audience behaviour with box office outcome,” writes Graeme Noseworthy, strategic messaging director for big data for marketing, media and entertainment at IBM. “Seeing as the movie marketing timeline starts at roughly 12 weeks out and tends to ramp up two to four weeks out from opening, there is tremendous potential for over- or underspend on multichannel marketing campaigns that typically range in the tens of millions of dollars, if not considerably more.”

IBM determined predictive power by collecting a wide variety of data including movie characteristics (size, genre, studio, seasonality, rating) and online presence (Twitter volume and sentiment, Facebook likes, shares and ‘people talking about this’ and other online indicators such as trailers, reviews, press, blogs and more. The company then trained models based on historical data from over 200 films from a wide variety of genres and audience types. “At that point, we could evaluate models for accuracy at times that directly correspond to the average movie marketing timeline,” says Noseworthy. “We found that there are clear and present relationships between social signals and box office sales – in particular, Twitter volume and negative sentiment have a strong correlation with actual OWBO results.”

“Our approach resulted in the highest prediction accuracy versus current industry benchmarks. In fact, we achieved high degrees of forecast accuracy up to eight weeks out – a timeframe in which marketing campaigns can still be changed. That can make a would of difference between a blockbuster OWBO and a need to quickly shift funds from another movie’s marketing budget or perhaps another geo-location you now know won’t perform as well as you initially thought it might.”


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