Merry Happy Movies

The holiday movie hype is upon us.  With the importance of movies as an advertiser category, and with entertainment accounting for $729 million in revenues in the 2012 half-year IAB Internet Advertising Revenue report, the IAB thought it fitting to get a picture of how consumers use digital media to find out about movies and decide what to see.  The IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence recently released a study of mobile users that showed, among other things, that mobile devices are now an integral part of the movie-going experience for many. 

For this study, we investigated holiday movie-going sentiment and the consumer decision process using two key research tools from our partners at IPSOS Media CT.  The first source was our HearWatchSay (HWS) online community of media-forward consumers. HWS has been our learning lab and the source of some interesting predictive findings. 411 HWS members responded to our survey about this holiday season‘s movies.  All of the respondents qualified as moviegoers, having purchased at least one movie ticket for themselves in the last year.

The second data source was IPSOS’ large scale, biannual syndicated study of moviegoers, TMX.  This national survey of 1,250 moviegoers, 13- to 64-years-old, defines moviegoers in a manner consistent with where the motion picture industry sees 80% of all annual ticket sales: that is, among those who purchase six tickets for themselves per year.  We refer to them here as avid moviegoers. 

The study pointed to the fact that moviegoers engage in a range of activities to learn about movies.  Prior research done by IPSOS focused on three core activities:  discovery, commentary, and planning.  Discovery is moviegoers’ proactive learning phase, where they seek out information about new movies and upcoming releases.  Commentary refers to moviegoers’ feeling that “buzz” about movies and what the critics and other moviegoers say is important to them.  Planning is the step closest to movie attendance and refers to having the information about show times and locations ready when people decide to go see a film.

Our understanding of how consumers go from general awareness to attendance was further enhanced when we asked our online community of HWS members to tell us the primary choice of media for each of the core activities.  Whether for discovery, commentary or planning, online sites are mentioned as the primary media choice more than any other medium, including TV.  TV is a very close second on discovery, with 44 % of HWS moviegoers saying that online sites are their primary medium for discovery activities and 38% saying so for TV.   As one would expect, the gap widens considerably for commentary -- and more so for planning, where online is primary, with 58 % versus 11 % for TV.  While these findings by no means negate the centrality of TV in building awareness, they do indicate that in more media-forward consumer segments, online media have a greater and growing role to play. 

The most telling piece of evidence that movie advertising and promotion need to live in multiple media comes from a direct comparison of the TMX avid moviegoers and the HWS media-forward moviegoers.  When asked to consider the array of content including trailers, and other advertising and promotional items available to consumers that could be influential in determining the movies they choose to see, 92% of HWS respondents picked at least one digital media source, while 63% of TMX avid moviegoers picked at least one digital media source.   For both respondent groups, the most influential individual sources in deciding what to see are previews in movie theaters, recommendations from someone they know, and engaging commercials on TV.  The surveys measured a number of digital media options including online reviews from average people/moviegoers, recommendations from friends via social networks engaging commercials online, eye-catching online ads, links for an ad/trailer sent from someone they know, etc. 

In the spirit of the holiday movie season and the multimedia world, here’s how one HWS moviegoer describes choosing movies to go see: “The topic of the film is important, the director, the cast, even the country of origin.  I love movies from around the world.  An exceptional film such as the upcoming ‘The Hobbit’ will lead me to to buy tickets. Some movies are too big even for a 62” screen to do them justice.”

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