IBM business analytics goes to Hollywood

As social media users weighed in their Oscar picks leading up to the 84th Academy Awards last February 26, IBM, the University of Southern California Annenberg Innovation Lab, and the Los Angeles Times  went to work to measure  the public sentiment.

The project, dubbed a ‘Senti Meter’, relies on analytics and natural language recognition technologies to gauge positive and negative opinions shared in millions of public tweets.

"This project is about identifying 'The People's Oscar,' which means moving beyond pundits' opinions of who the winners may be, to understanding who real moviegoers want to see receive the highest accolades of the industry," said Professor Jonathan Taplin, Director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. "We want to illustrate how new technologies can capture valuable information and opinions derived from the voices of influential movie fans."

The work between the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab and IBM is part of an ongoing collaboration to explore how technology can be used by organizations from news outlets and journalists, to movie studios and retailers, in order to better understand, respond, and predict public sentiment.

"The ability to apply a quantified measurement to social media chatter surrounding the top films and performances of the season, and to do so over a period of time, adds a valuable new dimension to The Times awards coverage," said Times Assistant Managing Editor Arts and Entertainment, Sallie Hofmeister.

"We're very interested in developing and embracing new technologies to inform our reporting and working with IBM and USC has made this early stage social sentiment tool possible," Hofmeister added.

Innovative analytics and language software from IBM that distinguishes nuance and sarcasm was used  to pinpoint relevant opinions of the nominated films, actors and actresses and show noteworthy trends. USC Annenberg and IBM have also applied similar techniques to film forecasting, sports and fashion retailing in an effort to identify social media trends and better understand public opinions.