Award shows such as the Oscars have a whole new life online that spans months, not hours. See how brands can be relevant in these massive cultural moments far beyond the live event itself.

Written by
Jordan Rost , Allison Mooney
February 2015

Not many media events today attract the attention of audiences as well as award shows. They bring us together to watch, discuss, and get inspired, and they bring us closer to the celebrities we love (or love to hate).

No award show is bigger than the Oscars. Last year, 43 million people tuned in, earning it the largest nonsporting television audience since the finale of Friends. But the event isn't just about a few hours on a TV screen. Through digital, audiences are engaging with the Academy Awards well before, during, and after the actual event. On Google alone, there were tens of millions of Oscar-related searches last year. It would likely take decades to watch the variety of Oscar-related content on YouTube. This all adds up to many new opportunities for brands to participate in these massive cultural moments beyond the telecast.

So what are people interested in, exactly? And what are those opportunities? We looked at Google and YouTube data to find out.

Oscars fever starts early online

Like the celebrities themselves, fans are getting ready for the Oscars well before the big night. They're searching for red carpet looks, Oscar pools, party planning, nominees, and movie trailers—and they're starting earlier than ever.

Search interest for "Oscar pool" grew 28% from 2013 to 2014, and data suggests the pools are most popular in cosmopolitan areas.

There was a 10% growth in "Oscar party" search interest from 2013 to 2014, and this interest started trending a week earlier.

Watchtime of Oscar movie trailers spikes as soon as the nominees are announced, and it stays strong as the awards approach.


The red carpet is getting longer

Of course, awards are as much (if not more) about the fashion as the accolades themselves, and Oscar dresses are always a highlight. But interest in the red carpet is extending far beyond the night itself, even beyond the event. For the first time in recent years, searches for red carpet looks in 2014 were fragmented into two big spikes—one around the Globes and one for the Oscars—plus a larger bump around the Emmys.


Mobile plays a lead role during the show

A big part of the enjoyment of these events is the connection it brings us. What we see spurs conversations in the moment and days following—both online and off. That's why we watch the TV screen with a smartphone screen in hand. We want to learn more about what we're watching right then and there so we can talk about it with others. This all starts with search, especially mobile.

Immediately upon 12 Years a Slave winning best picture last year, we saw searches spike on Google.

As Boyhood won awards at the Golden Globes this year, searches about the movie, its director, and supporting actress immediately skyrocketed, and 65–70% of those searches were on mobile.

Just about half of all Oscar-related searches on awards night last year came from mobile (Google Data).


After the awards, the Oscars live on—on YouTube

As celebrities head to after-parties, audiences head to YouTube, where the party lasts a lot longer. In fact, there are many more searches for the Oscars the day after the awards than on the day itself, both on YouTube and Google Search. Back at work, people are catching up on the highlights and lowlights so they can join in watercooler conversations, and video is their medium of choice.

In 2014, there were 25X more YouTube searches for the Oscars the Monday after the awards than on the day itself (see chart). On Google, there were 4X as many searches.

People watched multiple decades' worth of Oscar-related content on YouTube in the days following last year's show.


It doesn't end there. Videos about award shows are watched for months after the event itself. The Oscars in particular has a long shelf life, with interest picking back up in the fall.


People aren't just looking for clips from the show. They want to learn and see more—behind-the-scenes footage, celebrity beauty tutorials, funny memes—and share it with friends.

"How to" search interest on YouTube related to the Oscars grew 32% last year.

There are over 300,000 YouTube videos about being behind the scenes at the Oscars and, last year, 60% of their views happened in the eight months after the event (YouTube Data).

Leonardo DiCaprio's reaction to not winning an Oscar became a meme unto itself—thousands of hours of video about it have been watched in the past year.

How your brand can win on awards night and beyond

For marketers, the window to capitalize on award show fever and serve up relevant content online is wider than ever.

Fashion is the star throughout awards season, so think about cross-event digital strategies. Last year, P&G sponsored red carpet coverage at both the Grammys and the Oscars through a partnership with StyleHaul and the Associated Press. They worked with influencers, including YouTube star iJustine, to create custom content around the experience of attending the show.

Brands can capture real-time interest by planning ahead. While there will be unexpected moments, much of it will center on predictable things such as red carpet fashion, the nominees, or a TV commercial that airs. For example, during the Super Bowl, there was a surge in searches for Coca-Cola, specifically the company's #makeithappy hashtag, after its ad ran.

Of those searches for Coca-Cola, 80% were on mobile. To capture that in-the-moment interest, go big on small screens. See our playbook on real-time marketing to learn how and get more best practices.

Post-event, brands can keep conversations going and deepen relationships with consumers through video. In fact, three of the ten most-watched videos on YouTube in the week following the Oscars were branded, including Pepsi's launch of the Mini Can.

Regardless of when it was created—before, during, or after an event—video content can see renewed interest around future events and news cycles. Invest in building up your content library and repromoting it at other moments throughout the year.