Every year in late February, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honors and awards the best cinematic achievements in the film industry. The Academy Awards —more commonly referred to as simply The Oscars — are a unique beast that meshes the glamour of Hollywood with the calculated politicking of the business world. The result is an event in which creative work generated by artists from all corners of the industry is dissected and boiled down to a single superlative; Best. But even before the awards ceremony begins (sometimes even before the movie is made), producers and studio execs are plotting, planning, and scheming to get their golden statue. Every aspect of the film is put under a microscope in order to maximize their chances. From the release date to the the title of the movie itself, no stone is left unturned.

In a lot of ways, the digital marketing world is no different. Just like how simply releasing a movie isn’t enough to get your picture nominated, merely having a website won’t result in traffic. The days of just building a website and watching it rise up the rankings by itself are gone. It takes a lot of massaging and fine-tuning in order to get your product in front of the eyes of your target audience. But watch out, just like in Hollywood, there is such a thing as over-optimizing your content, which won’t get you the results you want.

Oscar Bait

The term Oscar Bait refers to movies that are released in that ideal window in the calendar, feature critically acclaimed actors portraying real life people who faced hardships, and are often set against the backdrop of some historic tragedy. While these movies can often be great, audiences and critics alike have caught on to their ways and have began to shun such blatant attempts at grabbing our attention. Likewise, when it comes to digital marketing, audiences have become more adept at blocking content with “clickbait” headlines. Clickbait headlines generally read like this: “You won’t believe the top 10 reasons people cry at movies. #7 took my breath away.” While content and headlines can be both “bait” and “good”, it is important to make sure you find the line between the two and stay on the right side of it.

Another parallel can be drawn between Oscar Bait and over-optimization. Just as Oscar Bait movies contain too many of the elements the Academy deems Oscar worthy, a website can contain too many elements that Google deems “rank” worthy. Instead of stuffing your website with keywords, or spending a lot of time link building, ensure your audience will actually enjoy or use the content first, and then think about how it will be framed for SEO purposes.

Over Tweaking, Active Campaigning, and Keyword Stuffing

Back in 2010, The Academy Awards banned a producer of the movie “The Hurt Locker” over what they deemed to be soliciting votes for his movie while disparaging another. This ethical lapse can occur in the digital marketing space in many forms. From keyword stuffing to building link farms, trying to garner Google’s attention at the cost of general web decency can have a real cost. Google periodically updates its algorithm to root out such offenders and the consequences can be dire. For example, In 2014, after Google issued Panda 4.0, it was estimated that eBay had lost a full ⅓ of it’s organic traffic.


Despite banned outreach tactics, The Academy actually permits several types of outreach to its members by studios and producers looking to put in a good word for their film. This can include special private screenings of the movie with meet-and-greets of its stars, or simple emails blasts announcing that the movie merely exists. This type of outreach goes a long way towards getting a movie nominated because it puts the product directly in front of the influencers and decision makers that will determine the fate of their film. In the realm of digital marketing, having a team of dedicated content partners and working relationships with social media influencers can really help drive qualified traffic to your site.

Are there any other parallels you can think of between the Academy Awards and digital marketing?

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