Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Advanced research reveals the blindingly obvious: Why people aren't going to the movies

A while ago, I noted a few reasons why I'm increasingly underwhelmed by Hollywood's theater faire. I knew from a lot of prior conversations that I wasn't the only one who thought so, but I am always pleasantly surprised to see that there are (many) others who apparently are feeling the same way about Hollywood passing off such films as The Fantastic Four.*

What did amaze me, though, is that there are firms out there using pretty sophisticated technology to find out what people think. The question was asked by some dumbfounded theater marketing manager, "why aren't people going to the movies anymore?" No, this marketing manager didn't conduct surveys and collate responses, but instead hired a marketing consulting firm who culled data from what people are already ranting about. An article on Reuters has the story:

Brandimensions searched 1.9 million Internet blogs and chat rooms where users were discussing the box office slump. Relevancy algorithms were used in choosing 1,350 posts to dissect by using software coupled with human data analysts. The result was a 16-page analysis.

Part of me thinks that this is a pretty amazing way to collect and analyze information. It's sort of like hiring thousands of invisible eavesdroppers at coffee shops and living rooms, listening to people's opinions about pop culture stuff in order to better serve up more of the same.

What cracks me up is that the findings merely confirmed what could be read in plain text in any one of the blogs analyzed by the high-tech "relevancy algorithms." The result of the 16-page finding? That people think Hollywood is churning out garbage and they won't pay good money for it anymore.

This is a triumph of our society's love of the professional expert, whose stamp is needed on plain common sense in order for corporate America to buy in to it. Perhaps they ought to spend a little more time really listening to two or three ordinary people and a little less time writing $20,000 consulting checks to companies like Brandimensions.

Sound obvious? Yes, but then perhaps this blog, even now, is being analyzed by other firms who are deciding whether or not to hire a similar service. Such is the world we live in.


ted said...

Wow Jason, I'm glad I can come to your blog now and get links to Satellite TV, the BDSM scene in Atlanta, the next James Bond movie, penile enlargements (so I can pass the info along to Eric, of course), cancun real estate, healthy weight loss, bonus reward, and I aint even typing that last one. What the heck is going on all of a sudden? Did you see that three-page diatribe on clear cut logging or whatever it was that wound up on my blog? Algorithms indeed.

Gunslinger said...

Yup, that is why I am turning anonymous postings off ASAP. Seven comments. I wonder what keywords trigger the BDSM scene post?

No, not so I can get them in my blog, Ted.

everyday.wonder said...

Yeah, ya gotta love it. I had to delete seven spam-comments from my blog. I wonder if that was Brandimension's revenge against me saying their multi-million dollar operation amounts to complete {spam-censor-guard}garbage{/spam-censor-guard}?

The best part about this is the read-between-the-lines spam technique: they have to praise you for how wonderful your blog is before spamming you, just to catch the clueless narcissistic blogger off guard...

ted said...

The one that got left on my blog didn't even praise me. If it had I might actually have left it since the previous four comments or so are all complaining about my blogging schedule.