In “Word of Mouth for Movies: Its Dynamics and Impact on Box Office Revenue” Yong Liu, Assistant Professor of Marketing, Syracuse University, analyzes messages posted at the Yahoo Movies message boards to gauge their impact on movie ticket sales.
Liu characterizes the message board postings as “word-of-mouth (WOM)” and examines “the dynamic patterns of WOM and how it helps explain box office revenue” in the July issue of “Journal of Marketing”:
The WOM data were collected from the Yahoo Movies Web site. The results show that WOM activities are the most active during a movie's prerelease and opening week and that movie audiences tend to hold relatively high expectations before release but become more critical in the opening week. More important, WOM information offers significant explanatory power for both aggregate and weekly box office revenue, especially in the early weeks after a movie opens. However, most of this explanatory power comes from the volume of WOM and not from its valence, as measured by the percentages of positive and negative messages.
In other words, any WOM is good WOM. Whether Yahoo Movies message board comments are “pro” or “con,” the more messages posted, the more interest is generated for a movie, and subsequently more movie tickets are sold.