Can big data predict who will win the 2016 Oscars?

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Predicting the winners of Sunday’s 88th Academy Awards is no longer the stab in the dark it once was thanks to the tremendous amount of information that can be gleaned from big data. A few digital marketing firms are taking very interesting approaches to answering the question on every…

Predicting the winners of Sunday’s 88th Academy Awards is no longer the stab in the dark it once was thanks to the tremendous amount of information that can be gleaned from big data. A few digital marketing firms are taking very interesting approaches to answering the question on every film buff’s mind.

Exponential’s look-alike modeling singles out The Big Short

Digital advertising experts Exponential have predicted that The Big Short will win Best Picture, and there’s a good reason to think they’re right: they’ve successfully predicted the Best Picture winner for the last three years in a row using big data.

Exponential’s “look-alike modeling” technique analyzes the behavior of a select group of 32,000 people who work in the film industry in L.A. and have a makeup similar to that of the body of Oscar voters.

Exponential’s VP of Insights, Bryan Melmed, said: “We know the typical Oscar voter is a frequent traveller, invests heavily in home theatre systems, follows tennis and baseball, is concerned about privacy and Social Security, buys expensive watches, and drives a European luxury car. Thus, the film interests of people with similar interests give us a strong clue as to where votes would go.”

Their analysis showed that The Big Short and Spotlight both had excellent chances of winning, and it was difficult to choose between the two because of their overlapping audiences. Ultimately, they felt The Big Short had the edge because it mirrors the main interests of Oscar voters.

Melmed also explained how look-a-like modeling can be used for predicting consumer behavior by modeling groups of people who have shared interests against a company’s current customers to try to find new ones who are likely to be receptive to a brand’s message and turn into buyers. This can have a number of benefits, including optimizing ad budgets and serving people more relevant ads.

In analyzing more than 60 billion digital content engagements online, leading global marketing tech firm Amobee have uncovered the fan favorites for the Oscars. In the month leading up to February 22, the firm compiled data on the Oscar-related content that people read and shared online.

According to their findings, The Revenant is dominating the chatter. Spotlight came in second but only managed to generate 87 percent as much engagement.

Leonardo DiCaprio is dominating the digital content engagement for the Best Actor race. Second runner-up Eddie Redmayne only managed to garner 34 percent as much interest. The Best Actress category appears to be a lot closer, with Room’s Brie Larson having only the slightest of edges over Joy’s Jennifer Lawrence

One thing that is harder to predict, however, is Oscar viewership, which noted a 16 percent drop in the U.S. alone last year, registering the lowest number of viewers in six years.

Dror Ginzburg, the CEO and Co-Founder of video creation platform Wochit, suggests that many people are simply opting to watch the awards on their own time rather than viewing the live broadcast, particularly those who live in unfavorable time zones like UK viewers.

He said that “many people in Britain are unlikely to stay up until the early hours of Monday morning to get their Oscars fix. With the average UK consumer now spending at least five hours a week watching TV, clips and films online, they are far more likely to catch up later that day, or during the week, online-only, to see who the winners were and which stars dressed to impress the most on the red carpet.”


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