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For some time now, Google has been studying the way users conduct searches for movies online. A whitepaper detailing the results of this study shows that movie search patterns have changed considerably in the past 3 years.

The most notable change to have occurred is the fact that people now start conducting movie searches much earlier than in the past. It has been found that on an average, people now start movie searches about five weeks prior to its release. Only a couple of years ago, these searches were conducted just prior to the release of the movie.

Google search results for the last Harry Potter film

Another major change that has been found is the fact that people now search for movies much more than they used to do in the past.

Selina Rennie, who works with the team at Google that carried out this study team says, “Movie-goers searched 1.75 times more per film in 2010 than in 2008. Additionally, searches for film trailers were up by more than 50% in 2010 versus the previous year.”

The increased availability of digital content as well as the growing availability of Internet-connected devices has led to these changes in the way movie searches are conducted.

Big box office hits (grossing more than $100 million) seem to draw disproportionately more searches than mid-tier films (grossing $50 – $100 million). Queries per moviegoer are higher for mid-tier films, indicating a lot of consumer interest but low engagement from the industry, which implies a lot of potential for growth.

YouTube searches and related video referrals are a very important source of video views. Yet, the surprisingly low number of studios advertising on YouTube search as against those advertising on Google search shows yet another opportunity for growth.

It would be highly expedient of studios to be ready with an interesting trailer the moment the audience shows an inclination to see the movie or gather any information about it.

Home entertainment is also an evolving branch of this industry and studios are now contemplating the creation of a new “premium VOD” that would allow users to rent movies within 30 to 60 days of the release of the film.