#PredictingTheFuture With Data

Is it possible to predict the future from a hashtag?  Joe Martin, senior analyst for the Adobe Digital Index, thinks so.  In fact, he does it every day.  Using the social analytic tools in Adobe Social, combined with data insights from the Adobe Digital Index (or ADI), Joe identifies and interprets key trends in social media to make accurate predictions and assign economic value to online buzz.

Joe explains, “With social I try to think of any and every angle I can to take data that may be boring by itself (like hashtag mentions), and weave it into a better story.”

For example, Joe examines the activity and excitement for upcoming movie releases across social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube and compares it to an index model of the historical social buzz for more than 50 other films.  Based on the findings, he can accurately predict whether a movie will cross its domestic production profitability threshold.  In fact, Joe’s predictions have been more than 97 percent accurate, correctly forecasting the box office success for 34 of 35 movie releases.

That’s an outstanding success rate, but even the missed prediction (for San Andreas, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) is proof of the power of social data.  “I predicted that it wouldn’t be profitable,” explains Joe, “but actually it’s a cool story about how quickly social buzz can turn around a movie or a brand.”

“I had clear data showing that San Andreas was trending below other movies in our model.  Other analysts had it pegged to make about $30-35 million opening weekend, but it actually made closer to $54 million.  What we saw looking at the data after our prediction had been made was that The Rock was blowing up on social media in the week leading up to release, spiking on opening day.  He’s one of the top ten most followed actors across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and he was doing an active countdown to the movie, promoting the trailers and generating buzz.”

“As a result of the The Rock’s social activity, San Andreas had four to five times the social buzz than a traditionally profitable movie, whereas just three days prior, it was trending below.  It shows you how quickly it’s possible to engage a social audience and turn things around.”

“I’ll never doubt The Rock again,” jokes Joe.

Although you may be surprised to find Adobe in the movie prediction business, it’s just one of the ways Adobe is working to showcase the marketing power of big data in industries like mobile technology, retail, sports, entertainment and more.

“We’re able to shine a bright light on how to use the kind of data that a marketing technology system has, and that marketers can use to gain a competitive advantage.  We want to be an example and lead the charge of what possible with data analytics,” says Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for the ADI.


To lead by example, the ADI team creatively leverages a unique dataset: the billions of digital transactions that happen across the Adobe Marketing Cloud.  Looking across platforms like Omniture Analytics, Adobe Social, Adobe Primetime, Mobile Analytics and Media Optimizer, they’re able to uncover informative or unexpected trends and share that context with digital marketers everywhere, whether making holiday shopping predictions, building benchmark reports for digital video or assessing consumer reaction to Amazon Prime Day.

“We’re able to aggregate anonymous findings and to roll them up into billions if not trillions of transactions of video visits, mobile visits, social media activity, e-commerce activity and more,” explains Tamara. “We’re really the only very large dataset of our kind in existence and so we’re able to see things as they’re emerging and be able to comment on them. … It’s about creating information out of chaos and turning that into knowledge.”

But perhaps the most valuable aspect of the ADI is the benchmark reports that provide context for entire industries.  “One of the basic challenges is that marketers have no way of knowing if the data they see in their own reports is good or bad relative to the rest of the industry or their competitors.  So purely with benchmarking information, it helps them understand where they rank compared to others like them,” Tamara notes, “It’s the kind of data marketers need to build a case for why their company needs to take action, or to get ahead of the curve and sustain a competitive advantage.”

Visit CMO.com to stay up to date on the latest reports being generated by the Adobe Digital Index team.  Whether you’re eating turkey leftovers on Black Friday, or watching the latest ads at a Superbowl party, the ADI team is hard at work analyzing the data, identifying important trends and giving digital marketers the insight they need to be successful.