Web ‘Qual’ing: A Star Trek Case Study

Qualitative and quantitative insights are the yin and yang of the data world, and with the yang of “Big Data” spilling gallons of trade industry ink, what does the future hold for the “yin?”  If your research and development department or creative team is clamoring for some qualitative direction on a new or existing product, here’s a fairly simple solution: search behavior.

People look to search engines not only as a conduit to the content they are pursuing; they oftentimes get emotive and consultative in their search behavior, revealing some actionable insights that cannot be recreated in a focus group or on-site ethnography.    As an added benefit, search behavior leads to website visitation and the advertising impressions that come with it.  To see what we mean, here is the Star Trek Into Darkness case study based on search data from Experian Marketing Services’ Hitwise:

Weekly Share of Searches
Source: Hitwise US

The search/visitation relationship is immediately evident when looking at the graph above., The spikes correspond to real world events, such as the announcement of the “Into Darkness” in early September 2012 and the film’s theatrical release on May 16, 2013.  Anything the public is privy to in advance of the release is tightly controlled by the people working on the film, but what happens after the cat is out of the bag?

The list below shows the top Star Trek Into Darkness keywords that were searched during the week ending June 8, 2013, and is compared against performance of those keywords in the week ending May 11, the week prior to opening weekend.

Top Star Trek Share of SearchesSource: Hitwise US

The Relative Difference column isolates areas of growth and decline in search activity for the keywords, with growth isolating important themes.  For example, searches on keywords involving the cast/actors (highlighted in green) were generally stronger a month after release than prior to it, suggesting increased (or at least continued) interest.   This type of insight could inform decisions related to the key art used in final marketing pushes for the theatrical campaign, as well as any home entertainment initiatives.

Digging a little deeper into the cast cited in the keyword analysis, the chart below illustrates just how engaging the characters that were not in the 2009 film were to the web audience.  The character of Khan generated enormous interest relative to Kirk and Spock, which indicates that his image is a strong candidate for prominent placement in any future advertising and packaging.  The same can be said for Carol Marcus, who ended up being searched more than Kirk and Spock in the week after the film opened.

star Trek 3 CharactersSource: Hitwise US

But how can you reach the fans that are searching for your product?  By looking at clickstream behavior,  you can find opportunities to capture the attention of your specific customer.  The table below shows that visitors to Star Trek websites after the movie released were more likely to move on to social networks, entertainment-based websites and also video and game retail websites (e.g. GameStop).

Website categories visited after Star Trek WebsitesSource: Hitwise US

Learn more about how you can utilize online intelligence about your consumers to improve your campaign strategy.

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