Though there are many factions of the entertainment industry, in this outlook we’ll focus on Television and Film. The film industry spends around $4 billion on marketing each year, while promotional television advertising often adds 40% to production costs. People are constantly bombarded with new television shows, movies and other forms of entertainment, forcing studios to buff up their advertising efforts in order to effectively reach target markets.
No longer influenced solely by typical film promotion, people have turned to social media as a source of validation to determine a film’s worth. As a result, film distributors have begun to seek innovative ways to reach consumers on their preferred social networks. Several companies have jumped at the opportunity, developing social movie ranking products, trivia games, and discovery apps to complement films’ promotional strategies.
While social media giants like Twitter and Facebook allow marketers to premiere content, engage through second screen apps and spread awareness, Facebook is failing to draw in major paid pushes due to its shaky relationship with Millennial users. Though some still consider Facebook important for film promotion, BlitzMetrics president Dennis Yu admitted that, for movie clients, it’s “often a line item, a placeholder, where the spend is around $5,000.”
Though traditional in nature, display advertising is becoming increasingly high-tech which requires attention and consideration from movie marketers. For example, augmented reality firm Blippar has released the world’s first image recognition and tracking app for Google Glass that enables wearers to see videos, webpages, and more, simply by looking at a picture. This means film distributors can create a billboard advertisement that automatically shows Google Glass wearers film trailers, details about the cast and how to book tickets for the nearest showing online without the use of a phone or tablet.
When it comes to movie marketing, film trailers still reign supreme. A perfect hybrid of entertaining content and advertising, film trailers are extremely influential in movie ticket purchase decisions. In an April 2013 study from YouGov Omnibus, 48% of respondents said that movie trailers help them decide what movies to see.
Because of its sizeable audience, social sharing capabilities and clip monetization options, YouTube is the preferred promotional platform for film trailer distributors. According to Angie Barrick, head of Industry, Media & Entertainment at parent company Google, trailer views on YouTube increased by more than 100% from 2011 to 2012.
“The key moviegoing audience is on our platform,” Barrick told TheWrap.
Film companies have used YouTube to jumpstart promotional campaigns, prompting media coverage and social sharing with easily embeddable videos. Reach and awareness are paramount when it comes to film promotion, and YouTube delivers both.
Last month, film studios had an incredible opportunity to promote their trailers during Super Bowl XLVIII. Unsurprisingly, YouTube played a significant role both before and after the Big Game. Marvel took advantage of the platform and released a teaser for its Captain America: The Winter Soldier Trailer that was set to air during the Super Bowl. The Friday before game day, the company uploaded the teaser, which has racked up 3.6 million YouTube views and 14,000 social shares.
The full-length trailer appeared during the Super Bowl, generating even more awareness and engagement online. On YouTube, it has earned over 15 million views and 407,000 social shares. The film’s release date is set for April 4, after which we’ll be able to see if the trailer views and social engagement translated into box office sales.
Most box office hits see high viewership and engagement with trailers pre-release, so it’s easy to say that the more views a trailer has, the more likely it is to do well in theaters. This may be true of surefire blockbusters, but for other films, delivering promotional content to the right audience is key.
Film trailers are a source of entertainment for many Internet users, so earning views isn’t necessarily the hard part. Turning these views into ticket sales is the real battle. Here are three tips to keep in mind when it comes to generating awareness and ultimately ticket sales for a feature film:
- Focus on niche markets: you should be delivering your film trailers to select audiences interested in the genre, actors, and/or message of your film. You can do so through keyword targeting.
- Have a strong, targeted presence on social media: People visit sites like StumbleUpon and Reddit to discover new films, TV shows and other forms of entertainment. Promoting your film trailers across these sites is an excellent way to build up traction pre-release.
- Influencer marketing: Working with prominent influencers of your niche market can yield incredible results in terms of engagement and ticket sales. Ninety percent of consumers trust a recommendation from their own network, so using influencer marketing to distribute promotional film material is essential.
Just as important to the Television Industry as it is to the Film Industry, social media has come a long way in expanding the former’s promotional offerings. Social networks have had to respond to the increase in digital device usage and device multitasking. In October, eMarketer released a report titled “Social TV: Marketing to Viewers in Real Time,” in which the company analyzed several surveys and found that a majority of social media users, tablet owners and smartphone users have used social networks while watching TV.
Additionally, eMarketer discovered that 15% to 17% of TV viewers engaged in real-time socializing about the television shows they were watching. To encourage social activity and repeat viewing of their programs, Television show marketers must engage in real-time conversations with viewers.
Both Twitter and Facebook are making it easier for Television advertisers to reach desired target markets. For now, Twitter has surged ahead of Facebook by introducing a new ad product that allows all advertisers to target users who are Tweeting about TV shows. Though this may be more exciting for brands that want to associate themselves with a certain TV show audience, it enables Television studios to promote related shows and other content amongst a socially active community. Twitter states in a blog post introducing the product that it aims to drive more TV discovery and consumption for broadcasters. Also, Twitter recently released Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, which measure the total activity and reach of TV-related conversation on Twitter.
Facebook is “expanding the use of hashtags and other features to show users how much real-time conversation is taking place on the service. It is also rolling out two APIs that will allow media outlets and ad technology companies to analyze and report on real-time activity. Facebook believes it can offer TV advertisers a one-two punch of enormous reach and deep targeting,” reports eMarketer.
Though social media plays an important role in TV show marketing, there are a plethora of other factors that advertisers must consider. AdAge said it perfectly in the title of an April 2013 article: “Creating and Retaining Audiences Takes Long-Term Strategy Across Platforms.”
In the article, Charles Dreas, senior VP-media analytics at Nielsen, said one of the best ways to attract a new audience is to promote off your own inventory. For example, to promote its Syfy show Defiance, NBCUniversal had contestants on Face Off, a Syfy show about makeup artists, visit the set of Defiance to do alien makeup. Additionally, DVDs of Universal movies had inserts promoting the show.
It’s imperative for TV show promoters to boost content discovery, even when the show isn’t on. A&E created a Tumblr account for Norman Bates, the star of its show Bates Motel, a Psycho prequel, to keep fans constantly engaged. HBO encouraged users to create their own “season recaps” of Game of Thrones season two to promote its third season which premiered in May 2013. The season-three debut had 6.7 million viewers, higher than the 6.3 million who watched the previous season’s premiere.
Not only are TV studios finding innovative ways to attract viewers, but brands have also jumped onto the scene with their own long-form video entertainment. Chipotle Mexican Grill created a satirical video series for Hulu titled, Farmed and Dangerous. Three episodes of the four-part series are available online and the company has drummed up tons of media attention. Chipotle’s chief marketing and development officer, Mark Crumpacker, notes that the marketing budgets of competitors like McDonald’s dwarf Chipotle’s making it impossible for the company to rely on traditional advertising: “The hope is that PR, buzz and social media will do much of the heavy lifting for the chain’s message,” notes a related AdAge article.
Whether you’re using online trailers, social media, public stunts and/or other forms of marketing to promote a new show, below are three things to keep in mind:
- Smart Targeting: With social media giants offering advanced targeting tools, it is becoming even easier to reach selected markets. Promote your show amongst audiences that are already interacting with related shows to maximize your chance of attracting socially active viewers.
- Timing: You can’t start advertising a month before your show premieres. Long-term, collaborative marketing is a necessity in the digital age. People are choosing TV shows based on peer recommendations, binge-watching entire seasons and straying from live TV programming. Having a strong presence months, and sometimes even years before your show goes live improves the potential for generating social traction and ultimately viewership.
- Constant Engagement: You should be engaging audiences before, during and after your program airs. Overloaded with the amount of entertaining content available, consumers will have no trouble forgetting about your show. Create interactive social media pages, commission user-generated content—get viewers involved!
Taking into account all of the above, here is our 2014 outlook for the Entertainment Industry:
- Social buzz will become an important KPI for film studios. Fox is already monitoring buzz, watching how quickly it gains followers on various social networks while also tracking video view counts.
- Studios will concentrate heavily on niche market advertising. People are fed a constant stream of films and unless marketers can reach the right people with promotional efforts, ticket sales may fall flat. The importance of influencers within selected niches will rise, as advertisers work to distribute content through people’s own social networks.
- More and more film trailers will go viral. Online video consumption is exploding and shows no sign of slowing. Internet users are hungry for entertaining video content—we’re expecting film studios to get creative and find unique ways to used online video as a promotional tool (e.g. bloopers, clips from the film, public stunts/prankvertising).
- Social, social, social! New targeting capabilities across social media networks will allow marketers to engage with and attract socially active viewers. The ability to find and interact with audiences across social media will enhance fan loyalty and drive returning views to Television programs.
- Innovative marketing techniques: we expect to see stunts and other forms of guerilla marketing take off as Television studios and distributors vie for viewer attention. An excellent example from 2013 comes from British movie and streaming service Blinkbox for Game of Thrones. The “remains of a giant dragon” washed up on the Charmouth beach on Dorset’s “Jurassic Coast,” promoting the release of season three on Blinkbox’s platform.
- The rise of long-form branded entertainment. We may see brands follow in Chipotle’s footsteps, creating episodic entertainment to reach consumers. Though branding was subtle in the Chipotle series, the message behind Farmed and Dangerous aligned with the brand’s and generated tons of social buzz for the company.
Any predictions you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments!