Horror Marketers Use Social Media To Scare Up Crowds

Paranormal Activity

When it comes to marketing and advertising online to horror fans, it appears that some folks who produce and distribute digital content are a bit in the dark. So it's a bloody-good thing that a handful of experts shared a few tips to sharpen their skills on Tuesday night at the Magic Castle Digital LA event.

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills off Franklin Avenue, a group of experts who are supporting horror movies and short-form digital content gathered the week before Halloween to discuss online marketing and advertising for television shows and movies, such as "Twilight," "Paranormal Activity," "True Blood" and "Vampire's Assistant."

Jordan Glazier, CEO of Eventful, which developed Paramount's "Paranormal Activity" campaign "Demand It!", says it's the first movie released nationwide by request from crowdsourcing. Eventful builds and hosts a Web page where people can click on a button that reads "Demand it!" to cast a vote. In this campaign, the clicks voted in a movie to open in a specific city across the country.

Paramount released Paranormal Activity in the 10 cities that demanded it the most. With no well-known stars in the movie, the public cast about a million votes to open in their city. Eventful created widgets for Facebook and MySpace and short codes for Twitter, which spun the viral campaign out of control within three days.

People ages 18 to 24 look to the Internet not simply to inform and entertain, but rather to change the world around them, Glazier says. "It lets people demand events," he says. "When you click the button on a Web site, it takes you to our site where you type in your ZIP code, birth date, gender and email address. There are seven layers of security to prevent people from stuffing the ballot box."

Movie studios could crowdsource to determine where to have a red carpet premiere, aside from Los Angeles or New York. "We have seen a handful of documentary directors use it to determine what markets to run a movie, or screenwriters trying to convince studios to produce a film," Glazier says. "The platform is customizable and you can demand anything you want."

Glazier says a deal with a large radio talk show host has been signed to use Demand It to influence what guests come on the show. It lets listeners become part of the process. A promotion will also run within the next few days to give an unnamed celebrity insight into what Halloween costume they should wear.

The campaigns that don't fly are complicated, and require people to do more than click the "Demand it!" button and answer a few questions, Glazier says. The multilayered "seven-step" campaign also required people to submit videos and wait for the final score.

Glazier says that last month, Eventful sent 70 million pieces of email to its 13 million registered users. "Every email hits the database about 30 times on the way out the door," he says. "It personalizes the content based on the user's profile."

When the topic turned to generating revenue from digital content, Sean Redlitz, FEARnet editor in chief, provided insight. Strategies ranged from merchandising and sponsorships to mobile content and international distribution, according to Redlitz.

FEARnet, a Web site that covers the horror movie industry and displays full-length horror movies and a video on-demand channel, took to Facebook when the company lost its spot on Time Warner cable. A petition went up online to get the channel back on traditional cable TV.

Redlitz says FEARnet and Time Warner have come to an understanding and are now hashing out the specifics to get the content back on the air.

Kevin Winston -- event creator and founder of Digital LA, an organization for advertising and marketing people who support movie studios with online content -- moderated the panel that also included Drew Daywalt, director of MWG's horror Web series, Camera Obscura; and K.W. Low, founder of DreadCentral.com.

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