Commentary

For Super Bowl Movie Marketers, Price Isn't The Only Factor

TV shows, big theatrical movies, new popular music songs, live sports TV events, and everything in between continue to fight for share of voice in a fractionalized media universe.

Where does a major movie studio go? Social media, YouTube, content marketing, local digitally based TV networks -- perhaps an addressable TV schedule?

One thing is sure: The Super Bowl may not be TV’s big event. For the last several years, big summer, potential blockbuster films have shied away from the game.

In the past, the Super Bowl broadcast saw seven to nine different TV commercials for movies vying for attention. That number has drifted lower, to around two or three studio films.

This year, the game is expected to have one ad each from Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures. Price considerations are growing ever higher, now at $5.6 million for a 30-second announcement in the big game.

But one wonders if there is more going on here.

Almost three decades ago, movie marketers were among the first to identify digital/internet media as a viable new consumer marketing platform for films. Results seem promising.

Over the last several years, estimates are that while TV retains a commanding 82% share of paid advertising spend for a movie, it only has a 42% “marketing impact” for a film’s box-office results, according to a study from Neustar, a data-analytics company. This compares to a 46% marketing impact for digital media -- which enjoys a 20% share of film marketing spend.

Super Bowl TV advertising, while expensive overall in total out-of-pocket cost, is relatively price-efficient when looking at CPM viewers, according to media buyers -- especially when factoring in nearly 100 million U.S. total average viewers for the game every year.

But at the same time, Super Bowl ad clutter has been creeping up. Years ago, it was common to see 60 in-game commercials as a total inventory load a network would sell. Today, a TV network airing the game sells around 80.

For movie marketers, there are tough cost issues -- unless there are high expectations for big summer release, which can warrant higher-than-usual marketing outlays.

A $6 million 30-second spot is now a big piece of an overall $40 million marketing budget for a wide-release summer movie. This is more than the average studio film release, in which marketing costs are around $25 million to $35 million.

No surprise here: Increasingly, the movie industry is even more dependent on big summer and winter blockbusters — action-adventure, sci-fi themes — looking to attract young audiences.

The task is not a simple one: Find those media platforms that draws those moviegoers. It may not always be that super.

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