March 3rd, 2014 by Sarah Sluis

Awards shows are an advertisers’ dream. They take place in real time, which discourages DVR’ing and fast-forwarding, and they’re also one of the few live events that engages a predominantly female, not male, audience. Traditionally, they’re the kind of event you invite your friends over to watch for the commentary, but increasingly, social media does the job. Here are five things any marketer should know about this year’s Oscars.

  1. Ellen breaks Twitter’s retweet record. Holding a super-wide screen phone (I smell a sponsorship), Oscar host Ellen engaged fans on Twitter during the ceremony. She had Bradley Cooper take a group shot of her and the star-studded group of nominees, and asked everyone watching to retweet. She later announced, “We crashed Twitter!” According to these Twitter shots, the engineers on call were not happy when Ellen announced her plans to break a retweet record. The previous record? A tweet from President Obama celebrating his reelection in 2012. The lesson: when you give viewers the opportunity to be a part of something special, like breaking a record, they’ll respond.Oscar tweet
  2. Banana Republic and People Magazine’s use experiential marketing. If you can’t get an invite to the Oscars, the next best thing is an invite to a swank Oscar party. There have long been other sister events, like Vanity Fair’s Oscar party, but they were mainly designed for celebrities. People Magazine designed an Oscar party for their best customers, selecting 200 people from its VIP subscription to get the invite.  Banana Republic took a more unofficial route, creating a red carpet tab on its YouTube page that featured commentary from YouTube celebrity Justine. Both of these brands were able to piggyback on the interest in the Oscars to create memorable branded experiences for their most loyal customers.
  3. Social Media Wins Don’t Equal Oscar Wins. Everyone has long known that winning Best Picture doesn’t correlate with total box office. The same holds true for social media. RelishMix, a social media marketing and analytics company, analyzed 40 million Tweets, Facebook shares, and YouTube video reposts and came out with a clear winner: The Wolf of Wall Street. Meanwhile, ListenFirst looked purely at Facebook fans, and Gravity came out on top. The Best Picture winner, 12 Years a Slave, shows up in the middle of the both arrangements. Perhaps more interestingly, social media engagement doesn’t neatly reflect what’s going on at the box office. The Wolf of Wall Street has the third-highest gross among the Oscar nominees, yet according to RelishMix’s data, it’s the most popular. Parsing success from social media results continues to be tricky.
  4. Big Data Predicts Oscar Winners. Six of the six predictions provided by analytics company Farsite came true. I’m not impressed with the perfect prediction record, I’m impressed that the company was able to create a model to predict the Oscars. Insiders have long been able to get near-perfect predictions by analyzing quality against buzz and those stories Oscar voters love to tell (Always double down on a winner if it will be a “first” in some way, for example). But to model the Oscar predictions is much more impressive, and the latest win for Big Data as marketing moves toward data-driven decisions.

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