Commentary

How Technology Changes Entertainment Marketing

Advances in technology and changes in consumer behavior are affecting marketing across all categories. For entertainment marketing, the impact is double. First, like all other categories, the way in which the entertainment marketing messaging is delivered is changing substantially. Those marketing a television show, for example, must take into account all the changes major consumer brands face, while also factoring in the fact that viewers will be consuming their products very differently (i.e., Hulu, video-on-demand). For example, Starbucks must explore new media channels and marketing practices to build its brand, but at least people are still drinking coffee pretty much the way they always have. Here are three more ways I see entertainment marketing changing:

Less "big push" marketing. One thing that needs to change immediately, especially in the television marketing space, is the way budgets are allocated. It simply no longer makes sense to spend 90% of a marketing budget in the weeks leading up to the premiere of a show, hoping to drive tune-in, and then effectively abandon marketing efforts. Not only is supporting word-of-mouth efforts potentially the most impactful part of the marketing mix, which can only occur after a group of people have seen the show (something I'll discuss more below), but people are no longer lost to an entertainment property if they miss a premiere.

With Hulu, video-on-demand, and even DVD sales driving new patterns in content consumption, it just doesn't make any sense to expend such a disproportionate percentage of budget against a show's opening. Continuing marketing support post-launch, when efforts can include the support of word-of-mouth campaigns on social media, can create new fans who can simply use one of the new media options to watch the show from episode one.

Supporting word-of-mouth: Word-of-mouth is the Holy Grail for any industry, but perhaps in no category can word-of-mouth so quickly make or break a property than in entertainment, where a night out at the movies or an hour watching a new TV show is a completely discretionary use of an individual's time, driven more by what "people are saying" than any traditional marketing effort.

The rise of social media gives marketers the chance to amplify their fans' word-of-mouth. It's all too common to hear the phrase "best show no one knows about," but that shouldn't be the case in the age of new media. Still, fans need support and a reason to help spread the word about a particular show, movie or event. Otherwise, they are happy to just enjoy it on their own.

Think of it this way: If you don't think it's worth putting effort into continuing to support your show and trying to spread the word, why should its fans? Who has more to lose? That doesn't mean that a group of passionate fans won't rally together to save a show they love from being canceled, using social media and DVD sales as their weapons of choice, but why would you want to wait until a show is about to be canceled to tap into that kind of passion?

Live-event marketing: I am going to write a separate column on social media and sports, but I thought this topic deserved a special call-out when discussing the subject of entertainment marketing. Live events have an immense amount to gain from their fans and their stars using social media. Of course there are risks, but trying to stop the use of new media technologies with regulations is like trying to stop the tide. The recently announced ban on social media coverage of Southeastern Conference (SEC games is a perfect example of the absolutely wrong policy.

According to Mashable, the policy reads as follows: "Ticketed fans can't "produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the Event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event."

Ha! First of all, the sheer inability to enforce such a policy is laughable. Secondly, you have tens of thousands of people captive at an event who, in real time, can encourage people to tune in and see a great catch, a close game, an amazing performance, or just simply share their joy in the moment with all of their social media connections as it's happening (what amazing marketing ), and you are going to say that's not allowed? I am sure that's not what the SEC means to ban (at least I hope not), but the policy sure reads strange. Instead, stadiums should be putting up on information on the big screens about where to tell your friends to tune in, either on their televisions or online. And, what better way to build personal brands and connections to fans, than stars'/athlete's using social media (ala Twitter) I am loving following Dwight Howard on Twitter, which is making me a bigger fan of Dwight and the NBA in general.

What else am I missing? What are the other big shifts we will see in entertainment marketing? Drop me a line here or on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JoeMarchese

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