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What People Want (and How to Predict It)

Historically, neither the creators nor the distributors of cultural products such as books or movies have used analytics — data, statistics, predictive modeling — to determine the likely success of their offerings. Instead, companies relied on the brilliance of tastemakers to predict and shape what people would buy. Creative judgment and expertise will always play a vital role in the creation, shaping and marketing of cultural products. But the balance between art and science is shifting. Today companies have unprecedented access to data and sophisticated technology that allows even the best-known experts to weigh factors and consider evidence that was unobtainable just a few years ago. And with increased cost and risk associated with the creation of cultural products, it has never been more important to get these decisions right.

In this article, the authors describe the results of a study of prediction and recommendation efforts for a variety of cultural products. They discuss different approaches used to make predictions, the contexts in which these predictions are applied and the barriers to more extensive use, including the problem of decision making pre-creation.

They then discuss two aspects of the prediction market. First, the need for better prediction for distributors of cultural products, and second, the potential for business models around prediction techniques.

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