Movie studios should use personalised video to get punters into the cinema in 2016
Last year marked a record year for cinema ticket sales in the UK and Ireland, jumping 11 per cent from 2012, the previous record year, with five films making more at the box office than the biggest success of 2014.
With the likes of Spectre and the new Star Wars release in the same year it’s hardly surprising.But the film industry can’t spend too long patting itself on the back and supping champagne.
The fact that this bumper year was driven by so many blockbusters won’t be lost on the film studios who arguably don’t have so many ‘bankers’ releasing in 2016. The general trend in cinema attendance over the past ten years has been downward and a lethal combination of increasingly popular streaming services such as Netflix and in-home technology such as 4k TV could make 2016 a very challenging year indeed.
Getting punters into cinema foyers is going to get increasingly challenging and the film industry is going to have to rely less on generic billboards and trailers during launch and more on real time, personal engagement far ahead of the red carpet being unveiled.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some great things happening out there. Studios and their media agencies have got very good at harnessing data, sometimes in real time, to adapt campaigns and target the right audiences, while some have been focusing their time on making social channels work harder for them.
For example, here at EchoMany we helped 20th Century Fox create personalised trailers for The Martian on Twitter to drive highly personal and meaningful interactions with fans, and the engagement levels were out of this world. What we are seeing, however, is that these examples are anomalies, rather than the norm.
In a digital age where consumers expect to receive highly personal, relevant content, and through the channels they use everyday (most likely from the palm of their hands) it’s worrying that only an estimated $10m of a big film’s $200m marketing budget goes into digital (and even less on the creative side of this channel).
Our digital world, by its data rich, multichannel nature, is the most effective way to pinpoint and engage with your target audience, particularly those who will be spreading the word before a film has hit the billboards and London buses. These passion fans are very valuable and well worth the investment.
We don’t necessarily need to totally reinvent the wheel though, there is plenty already happening which can be built upon and enriched.
Take the new Star Wars release as an example. One of their social campaigns was encouraging users to share on Facebook the tagline “who’s coming with me” – basically to convert non-believers. Imagine how much more impactful that would have been if it had your friend’s name embedded in it, saying “Tim, are you coming with us?”
Or how mind blowing would it be to use video to allow the stars of a film to personally engage with fans, or even put them on the red carpet, and all in real time? You tweet, and Daisy Ridley comes back from the red carpet to give you a personal message. It could happen today very easily.
But this call to personalisation arms comes with a huge health warning. It does not give studios carte blanche to spam everyone who has ever mentioned going to the cinema or ‘liked’ a film. Engagement needs to be focused, identify real intent from fans and use content which will resonate. Ignoring this could in fact do more harm than good.
Won’t this just push these ludicrous marketing budgets up even further? Sure, there needs to be a rebalancing of traditional and digital marketing spend but there is also no reason why one-to-one engagement should only be reserved for the few or come at an inflated price.
Using the right technology, data, and channels brands can now offer personalisation, at scale, rewarding the interactions of the most dedicated fans, the most valued customers and the most vocal advocates.
For me, 2016 will be the year films have to truly embrace personalisation.
Tim Redgate, Founder at EchoMany, the personalised video marketing platform