How Hollywood Predicts Your Content’s Success

Most content creators are hiding a secret: they have absolutely no idea how well their content will do.

They do the research, their post has some interesting points and useful takeaways, but once they hit that “Publish” button, only the content gods really know what will happen. Will the masses find the post and share it like crazy? Or will it just be another piece of the digital scenery whizzing past? There’s no way to tell for sure.

If you’ve ever published a piece of content, you understand this uncertainty all too well. Wouldn’t it be great to know ahead of time if a piece of content will be a hit or a flop and adjust before you publish? As unlikely as it seems, a recent article in FastCompany highlighted how writers in Hollywood are paying big bucks to have that ability.

Vinny Bruzzese, the prototypical power-suit-wearing Hollywood exec, is charging top dollar to use data to analyze movie scripts and gauge their playability. With millions of dollars on the line for studios and writers, Bruzzese claims he can turn a potential flop into a box office smash based solely on consumer data.

Although it’s going to be tough to prove the impact of such analysis, Bruzzese was able to predict the success of Iron Man 3 over its predecessor through simple analysis of consumer preferences (for example, audiences prefer modest superheroes).

So how can you predict the success of your own content with such accuracy? It’s easier than you think! Here are a few simple ways to use some of this data magic in your own marketing.

Lay The Groundwork

If you are using an analytics tool like google analytics, your first step should be to grab a report of your content over the past few months. Make sure your content is sorted by page title with a column displaying pageviews. You can then export this file into a .CSV file format and open in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. All of the analysis that follows can be done with the use of the SUMIFS formula to total pageviews that meet your criteria.

Analyze Your Title

Just like the title of a movie, the title of your content is the first thing an audience sees, and they will almost definitely judge a book by it’s cover. Conduct an analysis of your titles to see which keywords result in the highest number of pageviews. Do posts perform better with a number in the title (i.e. “5 Steps to Award-Winning Customer Service”)? Which numbers perform the best? What about titles with questions? Words like “How-to”? You can get as specific as you care to, and you should!

Find Topics that Resonate

Just as you analyzed your titles for keywords that capture your audience’s attention, you can use the same function to track the topics that interest your audience most. If your website segments out content by category, you can perform this analysis with a simple sort. If not, you can still analyze your titles based on their topic, finding out what interests your audience most. For example, if you sell HR software, is your audience more interested in posts like “Analyze a Resume in 30 Seconds or Less,” or “How to Mediate a Workplace Conflict with Ease.”


The most important thing you can do with your content is experiment. Try new things, explore new topics, and constantly change things up. The more variety you put into your subject matter and titles, the greater the chance that you’ll stumble onto the perfect formula for engagement. As you try new things, be sure to analyze your titles and topics at least once a quarter. You will start to see trends and correlations that can help you understand your audience and dramatically improve engagement.

Even if you don’t have millions of dollars on the line for a potential blockbuster, using data to analyze what makes your content effective is an important and easy step every content creator should be taking.

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