For decades, Hollywood studios thought of the world in terms of two screens: the big ones in movie theaters, and the smaller TV screens in people’s homes, the latter serving to let people know which shoot ’em up or romantic comedy they could go see at the theater each weekend. But now, technology has advanced to the point where the average person has three, four or even five screens in their lives, with the primary one small enough to fit in their pocket.
Sixty percent of online traffic comes from mobile. This technological paradigm shift has sparked a revolution in the way movies are marketed, and it’s spreading at an astonishing pace. While the conversations surrounding this shift used to concern traditional versus digital media spend, it’s now become increasingly granular. Mobile marketing has emerged as a new category within the digital realm, one that includes a line item all its own. That means studios are paying more attention to not only how many dollars are being spent to attract mobile consumers, but also where that money is going.
At this rate, the mobile market is expanding so quickly that it’s possible to envision the day when it eclipses traditional marketing, such as TV commercials and bus shelter posters, as the primary way to reach Millennial audiences.
So what does this mobile-first future look like for Hollywood when it comes to getting the word out about its products? It means embracing handheld devices, social platforms, messaging apps and cross-platform marketing. But this should not cause old-school marketing executives who’ve never sent a Snapchat in their lives to hyperventilate. All of these pieces of hardware and software are actually more direct, more precise, and, best of all, cheaper, than traditional methods of media spending.
Up close and personal
Smartphones and tablets create an intimate experience between the human and their screen, one that’s much more personal than the one they have with their TV screen. That’s why mobile continues to drive impulse purchases and engagement built upon the emotional connection and affinity people have for their favorite apps.
Mobile screens have forever changed the way we ingest entertainment, which means studios will eventually need to modify the lengths of that content for mobile consumption. What used to be a passive, sit-back-and-watch experience with television has evolved into an active, tactile experience with our iPhones and Androids.
We’re more in “touch” with our devices than anything else right now. Think about it, how many times have you touched your phone today versus the significant other in your life? Exactly.
That interaction is incredibly powerful and influential. And for movie marketers, it’s an exciting time to come up with new and experimental ways to bring dynamic, short-form content to the various mobile screens that Millennials interact with on a constant basis.
Getting the word
Today, studios work closely with media agencies to identify how much they want to spend on digital marketing and where that money should go. These budgets are allocated based on the targeted demographic, type of film (horror, drama, etc.) and budget. With these things in mind, studios try to optimize where their dollars are spent to make sure they meet targets for first-week ticket sales. Many studios find themselves replicating campaigns of previous box-office successes, or putting faith in their agency to make the best choice for their new releases.
But going forward, studios and digital agencies should know which consumers show up at theaters to see their movies, and they should have some information about who these people are able to identify who their fans are, namely, where they live, how old they are, and which friends they engage with the most.
Data equals dollars
Data is a most valuable and effective way to learn more about audiences. The more information Hollywood and its digital agencies know about their fan bases, the easier they can identify, target and reward those fans for becoming influencers. Using that data to segment the audience and micro-target to the right individuals makes marketing budgets much more effective and efficient. What’s more, marketers can follow that up by targeting the friends of their core audience members, bringing more buzz and excitement to usually passive fans, which often leads to even more impulse movie ticket purchases.
Movie marketing will never be as easy as it once was. The days of slapping an ad in every newspaper and putting a commercial on TV during primetime are over. As mobile devices become the primary way for people to engage with each other, consume content, and buy things, these same gadgets will become the best place for studio marketers to build awareness and get butts in seats all over the world.