Like lots of other families over the recent Thanksgiving weekend, we made our way to the movies. Our choice: Life of Pi. We’d highly recommend it, and according to the IBM Social Sentiment Index, as applied to Moviegoer Social Sentiment over the holiday weekend, so too would a lot of other folks. It earned a 90 percent positive rating.
IBM has engaged in the social sentiment index pursuit in some other endeavors – using its advanced analytics and natural language processing technologies to analyze large volumes of social media data, it had another recent take on Black Friday, for example. It tallied up that shoppers expressed positive consumer sentiment on promotions, shipping and convenience as well as the retailers themselves at a three to one ratio (see our story here for other takes on semantic tech weighing in on the holiday shopping season).
It’s also applied its social media analysis smarts to studying births of trends (cycle chic is on the rise), and which tennis player was on the hearts and minds of the crowd at the U.S. Open (Novak Djokovic and Laura Robson winning the love, with positive sentiment scores at 90 percent or better).
When it comes to movies, the Index evaluated over 5 million tweets over 11 days, comparing the volume around Twilight: Breaking Dawn, to other recent movies out there, including the new Thanksgiving weekend releases like Life of Pi, Red Dawn, and Rise of the Guardians and those already in theaters, such as James Bond, Skyfall, Wreck-It Ralph, Flight, and The Man with the Iron Fists, all of which opened one to two weeks prior to Twilight.
The analysis also included sentiment around new Thanksgiving weekend releases including Life of Pi, Red Dawn, and Rise of the Guardians, and flicks around a bit longer such as Skyfall and Flight. Little wonder that Twilight had the lion’s share of the tweets, but with the interesting finding that its positive sentiment dropped from 90 percent at pre-release to 75 percent on Saturday, November 24.
While you might think this indicates that moviegoers finally realized how boring the series is (my personal opinion), further analysis showed that the tweeted words perceived as negative weren’t necessarily towards the movie, but about "sadness" that the series was ending.
While there’s no accounting for taste, these takes on consumer sentiment are being accounted for by the marketing mavens that need to understand trends in fashion, how retail promotions are resonating, what sports starts their brands should consider as spokespeople, and whether a movie is gaining steam with the crowd – and why – in real-time.
It’s big business with Big Data behind it, too. USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and IBM actually are collaborating in an ongoing initiative to show how chief marketing officers can benefit from applying advanced analytics technologies to the big data of public sentiment in entertainment as well as sports and news. Regarding the application of the Film Forecaster version of the Social Sentiment Index, Steve Canepa, General Manager of Media and Entertainment at IBM is quoted in a release as nothing that, "box office results and industry accolades are not the sole drivers of recognition across the movie community – real-time audience sentiment is a strong factor too. Organizations in the media and entertainment industry are now taking advantage of big data to better understand their audience and to deliver better products, services and marketing campaigns that ultimately drive greater results for their business."
Facilitating the analysis is IBM’s Big Data Platform whose features include visualization and discovery for searching and understanding federated sources of in-place big datal Hadoop-based Analytics for lower-cost processing and analysis; the ability to continuously analyze massive volumes of streaming data with sub-millisecond response times to enable real-time action; text analytics and even data warehousing for structured data activities, since IBM says it wants the platform to be as suited for structured, repeatable tasks as it is for adhoc data exploration, discovery and unstructured analysis.
Can there be such a thing as relying too much upon data analysis and the voice of crowd sentiment, at least when it comes to creative endeavors like movies? While it may make sense to utilize that data to hone media marketing messages and campaigns for existing properties, using it as a gauge for green-lighting projects or tinkering with them to meet some social media focus group ideal seems out of line. This week IBM and USC Annenberg held a Consumer Sentiment Event with guests including Rob Friedman, Co-Chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, who reportedly told attendees, “You will never see us make a movie based on a series of questions posed in a research environment -- never, ever, ever.” According to that Variety article, groupthink won’t influence projects, he said: "We've taken great pains in not doing that," Friedman said. "The moviemaking process is a unique animal."