Speed to Insight is the Entertainment Game Changer

Kimberly Surico |
 03/03/23 |
5 min read

Speed to Insight is the Entertainment Game Changer

Data analysis is essential for any business hoping to succeed in a world of fickle consumers and constantly shifting audience segments. Having predictive analytics, companies can capture consumer insights that keeps ideation ahead of, or at least at pace with, evolving conversations—and in this article, we cover precisely that!

This is the third in our series of interviews with Jeremy Whitham, Strategist in Customer Success at NetBase Quid® on how consumer research and data analysis are important capabilities for the entertainment and media industry, and any industry really. With a background of working with BBC, NBC, Warner Brothers, HBO Max, and more, Jeremy understands how data analyses offer valuable insights to guide companies to success. There are a bevy of exciting and unknown opportunities just waiting to be discovered, as we’ll detail below.

Be sure to read our earlier piece that introduced the concept: Entertainment Industry Primer: How Creatives Should Use Consumer Research to Validate Ideas and the second, Capturing the Cultural Zeitgeist with Trend Tracking.

Let’s get started!

We’ve established that consumer research is valuable for validating ideas and pitching. But has it ever helped you in the production side of things, such as hiring talent? 

Yes, it’s often used on the front end of a series development. So, talking about unscripted show development, a significant budget consideration is casting. NBC would hire casting teams for many months, and they would scour the country looking for specific casting types. And very often, with casting, you’re looking for a needle in a haystack.

For example, while casting on this competition show for NBC, we were tasked with finding a “singing plumber.” This process took place over many months, and we didn’t find that person. However, if we could have used a Boolean search query, it would have empowered the casting directors and made their lives easier.

How? Using a Boolean query lets us narrow down what we’re looking for with simple commands like and/or to quickly narrow queries, and with more complex functionalities to make short work of finding a “singing plumber.”

To expand on Jeremy’s response, Netbase Quid® has a primary: operator which distinguishes what terms in your Boolean query should be the focus of your search. This operator allows you to identify a term as an object to which sentiment refers, hides the term by default in our word clouds, displays matches for the term on the tuner tab, and downloads Instagram posts for a term if it is a hashtag.

Additionally, it has a “Beautify” option that reformats the code entered to make it more readable, with indents and line breaks. And it checks code for syntax and parsing errors. It’s incredibly user friendly and intuitive:

And there are query filters with high maximums, which allow for more themes and topics to be captured in your query—ensuring you get comprehensive data to inform strategic decision making, or, as we’re discussing here, your casting efforts!

Have you seen hesitancy from directors to use insights, and if so, why do you think that is?

It wasn’t as available then, so I didn’t see it, but now, I think there would be resistance if I were to approach casting directors and recommend consumer insights. They might be concerned and even a little threatened by the speed to insight available. They’re used to doing things the traditional way—pounding the pavement and networking, and there’s certainly value in that. I think it would require positioning consumer insights as complementary, which it is, and making it clear that networking and connecting with real people is still essential and always will be.

The benefit of consumer insights is that you could scour social media in real-time to find that “singing plumber,” for example. I could write a query right now and see what came back for singing plumbers in a matter of minutes. This would give casting directors an edge as they’d have potential casting ideas in place and could focus more on fine-tuning recommendations and connecting with other industry insiders, including emerging talent they may have missed otherwise.

Do you see data analysis and consumer insights playing a role in the entertainment and media business of the future? If so, how?

The incentive for adopting this technology for is that it will become standard either way—it will just take one of the key players to make a move and start using it. A forward-thinking casting director would understand the need to be among the first to adopt it, because once this change begins, those who aren’t ready will waste time trying to catch up.

Data analysis is a powerful tool for research, and so much research goes into casting that it’s just inevitable for the industry to adopt it sooner or later.

Why do you think predictive analytics is vital to the entertainment and media industries?  

In the entertainment industry, you’re always in the process of selling up the ladder. You need to give the person you’re talking to intel that’s clean, with solid data points. It gives you the power to go to your boss and say, “We don’t want to pass up on this thing because 3D-printed desserts are going to be the next multi-billion-dollar business”—and have clear intel that validates those creative instincts. And it needs to be intel that can be easily passed along and understood.

Being on trend is critical in entertainment and just in general. For example, nostalgia has been a trending topic for some time now. You can see it in commercials and how entertainment companies are revisioning older tv shows—Netflix’s Wednesday as an example. Consumer insights and predictive analytics can help companies see how audiences are talking about nostalgic shows so that they capitalize on cult classics that might be ready to reboot—concepts that they may not have on their radar.

Creating a trend analysis is just one way to go about this. By selecting a topic, you can apply various themes to help you zero in on specific areas of interest. For example, below, we’ve added actors, music, movies, and general conversation themes.

Here we can see how the more extensive conversation around nostalgia is sorted between the themes to reveal the individual share of voice:

Applying a sentiment analysis can reveal how audiences feel about these different aspects. Positive sentiment is scored 1-100, and negative sentiment is 0 to -100. This analysis is great for taking an audiences’ temperature on various topics.

Best of all—it can be easily explored, with click-through access to view individual posts.

In our Entertainment Industry Primer, we established that creatives were resistant to using consumer research tools. What would you say to those in the entertainment and media industries who are hesitant to adopt social listening tools?

I would frame it this way: Consumer insights will empower you as an executive. It does not put your job at risk to use a NetBase Quid® Boolean query—quite the opposite, in fact. It will help you capture the best data, so you can examine audiences and make exceptionally valuable suggestions.

With it, you can validate direction and offer best practices that will earn you a reputation as someone with superpowers as you “predict” hit after it. And ultimately, it can help you pitch your process in a way that is impactful and data-driven so that you can win more idea approvals.

If you want to learn more about how consumer insights can help your entertainment or media brand, check out the other two parts of this series, Entertainment Industry Primer: How Creatives Should Use Consumer Research to Validate Ideas and Capturing the Cultural Zeitgeist with Trend Tracking and be sure to reach out for a demo so you can predict the next big thing, validate and pitch your ideas, and, yes, locate the next singing plumber!






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