2019 is already turning out to be a historical year for the movie industry. Avengers Endgame has created a storm around the world and is shattering a lot of national and international records. Avengers Endgame marks the end of Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which started with Iron Man in 2008. The hype which endgame created ensured that every moviegoer, let alone marvel fans catch a glimpse of this masterpiece at the nearest multiplex on the date of release/weekend. All tickets for the first two days were sold out within 24 hours. For the first time, multiplexes such as PVR and IMAX in India introduced new screen timings such as the ones in 2:40 am, 4:00 am and 6:30 am to cater to the demand. Filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo always imagined that the movie would break all records. It’s not only the Russo Brothers but all the Film makers involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The movie is the culmination of individual character movies and three Avengers movie. Avengers Endgame is set to surpass Avatar’s total box office collection of US$2.778 billion. James Cameroon is considered one of the greatest Film makers of the generation. Before Avengers Endgame, the two movies that topped the box office collections worldwide were James Cameroon’s Titanic and Avatar. Although a movie like Avengers can pull in crowds just by its Name, still there were huge Movie marketing efforts made by the Marvel Cinematic Universe Team.
Global production houses spend multi-million dollars to put a piece of art into a screen for 130 minutes. Thus, the box office projections they have for their movie are quite monumental. The Movie marketing team for a particular motion picture usually has a huge task in their hands. Modern-day Production Houses are not restricting their marketing efforts to print media and television. Coming of the Age Movie marketing methods includes extensive use of digital media and social media, consumer engagement, influencer marketing, unique outdoor marketing and promotional campaigns to name a few.
The prime source of advertising and marketing spend is television. The trend of buying ad space in prime time television, especially in entertainment and movie channels is still a priority for Film makers. When it comes to movies, Television ads spend is still a calculated decision. In comparison to any other advertisement for any product or service, more than 99% of the TV viewership is the target audience for movies. In addition to this production houses strike up financially beneficial deals for their productions houses when they distribute the movie rights to various TV movie channels such as HBO and Star. The channel that bids the highest also receives the right for the Television Premiere of the Movie. For an industry such as the Bollywood, a large set of potential target audience such as working people and homemakers deliberately chooses to wait for the TV Premiere.
Press advertising has shrunk over the years and so has radio advertising. This is primarily due to the rise of digital media and increasing absoluteness of press media and radio. This was, however, the primary source of Movie marketing back in the Golden Era of Bollywood in the ’60s and ’70s. Use of Digital media in marketing efforts has increased by tenfold in the last ten years. Film makers are aware of the fact that a large chunk of TV viewership have shifted to digital media.
Let’s discuss a few coming of the age Movie marketing techniques
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
India is the third largest movie industry in the world and largest in terms of movie production. In a recently concluded study by Or-max Media stated that Facebook and Instagram contribute to around 20-25% of first day box office collections of a list movie and 15-17% for any other movies. Social media marketing is the major tool for engagement with the masses. Film makers in India bank a lot on A list superstars like the Khans, Akshay Kumar, Ranbir and Ranveer to name a few for box office success.
The reason being that such stars have a huge fan base that generally follows the star to the movie hall. In a majority of the cases, a Superstar can contemplate for a weak script. Thus Movie marketing campaign in social media is one of the first tasks in hand of a Movie marketing team of any Indian movie. Running contests and trending hashtags in platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are some of the prerequisite methods to engage the users in creating a buzz for the movie. Movies like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Fan actively involved users in a selfie contest and video contest respectively. As compared to print media, digital media provides more measurable insights through metrics such as views, likes, impressions, readership, and click rates. Film makers find it more comfortable with numbers. Such metrics paves the way for future marketing methods and narrow down the target audience for the next phase of marketing. Movie marketing teams create a buzz in the social media in relation to a certain movie that moves the audience to the movie theatres.
YouTube has been there for more than a decade now. However, the use of YouTube as a Movie marketing tool has been a recent trend. Although release of trailers and songs is a general practice followed by the Film makers. The dynamics of Movie marketing through YouTube have become more strategic over the last few years. The major forms of advertising in YouTube are YouTube ads that run before or in between a video that plays. Users often find new movie trailers as ads when they play any music or any other video in YouTube. These ads are targeted ads with a specific target audience. The Movie marketing team decides on the demographic and geographic population most likely to purchase their movie ticket. Apart from the ads, Film makers are more strategic when comes to release of the trailers and music videos. The idea is to gain more traction for the movie as the release date approaches.
The first move Film makers make is to release a teaser for the movie at least a few months before the release date. Nowadays, there are even teaser videos for Song Releases. Trailers for movies offer the highest traffic for the movie. Many Film makers especially ones in Hollywood opt for multiple trailers for their movies. YouTube viewership numbers provide additional marketing points for the Movie marketing team such as Fastest to 1 million, or fastest to 10 million views, etc.
Influences marketing is the name of the game in social media. Influencer marketing is not just limited to fashion and brands. This form of marketing is considered as mainstream marketing for products and services as well in the last two years. For movies starting a list, movie starts influencer marketing becomes fairly easy in terms of audience reach and views. The Movie marketing team still has a huge task in their hands when it comes to marketing ideas and scheduling of posts. However, for Film makers debuting with fairly new actors and banks a lot on the script, influencer marketing plays a far more important role. The traction that can be created in the movie industry is through the movie industry itself.
Small Film makers do not have the budget to spend a fortune in the mainstream media. Thus creating a buzz in the social media using a handful of influencers that have a large follower base provides them a great reach for their trailers and containers. Promotions through movie stars and social media influences provide such new age Film makers to create a buzz around for their movie project.
TV Talk Show Appearances/ Reality Show Appearance
In the Indian movie industry, not restricted to Bollywood, the appearance of the movie stars in reality shows before the release of their movies has been there since 2007. In the west, you might have witnessed a variety of talk shows such as the Jimmy Falon Show and James Gordon to name a few always host movie starts and Film makers before their release. This is an important aspect of Movie marketing. Film makers and movie stars talking aspects of film making such as production, direction, behind the scenes moments, and filming experience provide with video content that movie buffs and moviegoers actively tunes too.
Brand Placement or Product Placement in Movies
Well, this form of Movie marketing falls in the bracket of affiliate marketing and has been seen movies for more than a few decades now. However, it was considered hilarious and humorous when it started but has become more tactical in recent times. Product placement in a movie fetches Film makers as an additional source of revenue as contract values shoot up over a million dollars. Film makers also have to be flexible to mend their scripts to incorporate a brad or a product idea in an innovative way possible. Some iconic product placement in movies is Nokia in Matrix, Luxury Automobiles in James Bond 007, Chevrolet Camaro in Transformers, Converse in iRobot, and Mini Cooper in the Italian Job.
Mobile and Game Applications
Present day, smartphones have become the best choice of gaming console majority of smartphone users and gamers. This has resulted in an exponential increase in mobile game development subsequently resulting in thousands of mobile games in the application store. Although there is a large presence of breakthrough games based on the original concept, game developers have taken inspiration from famous movie franchises to introduce mobile games based on the movie theme or characters. This also provides an additional Movie marketing opportunity. Film makers are also tuned into this concept as such applications are based on the freemium model, which implies free for downloading but contains in-app purchasing. This means additional revenue opportunity for Film makers. Indian movies such as Krrish 3, Chennai Express, Race 2, and Dhoom 3 have cashed in this sector of mobile game applications. This has resulted in a million of downloads of such mobile apps. Such mobile applications attract the Indian consumer as the characters in the mobile app are something that Indians can identify with. The rises of such apps in the Indian gaming industry are on a steep growth and it now accounts for 15% of the Indian gaming market. Movie marketing teams of a particular movie also banks on the marketing aspect of such application, sharing movie expectation, special messages by the movie stars, and banners for booking the movie ticket are the major marketing aspects.
Directing Traffic To Movie Booking Sites
Financially speaking, the most beneficial marketing campaigns run by the Movie marketing team is the running of ads in social media and digital media that direct the consumers into the movie booking websites. Film makers spend a large percentage of their budget on Movie marketing. The Movie marketing budget is set to be skewed more towards digital media in the coming years. Usheru is one such company that has created a market opportunity for them to address this issue. Usheru is a website and application that helps people to book movie tickets in their city in three clicks. According to them, they address they feel that the movie industry and Film makers are facing a problem of information blackhole as with mass marketing, as they do to have the data on individual data of moviegoers and their preferences. The company connects Movie marketing with ticket processing using digital media.
The current industry practice is that the Film makers, studios, and the distributors provide their tickets through a movie website. And since they do not manage their ticketing process themselves, they have the drawback of not knowing what kind of marketing is leading to ticket sales. Usheru addresses the problem by creating film specific websites to connect to the cinema. And with the book now option as the landing page, they can attract ticket sales as well as analysis which Movie marketing campaign leads to the most interest or sales. The company connects box office websites to the movie. The consumer can see where the movie is showing and book tickets quickly.
They are providing the industry a different overview of the Movie marketing and sales lifecycle. People register their interests in their platform and they can show Film makers where the audiences for their movies are based. This is very beneficial to a small production house that doesn’t have the budget for spending a huge percentage of money on mass Movie marketing.
Outdoor promotions are no doubt the most prominent part of Movie marketing for any Film maker and their production house. It is the oldest form of Movie marketing and still has the highest amount of spend in the Movie marketing budget. It generally starts with a press release about a movie. The Film makers along with the cast of the movie talk about the movie, on the plot and talking about a possible release day. This is followed by music release and many more such shenanigans. One of the major outdoor press releases that happen in the Bollywood industry is during events such as comic cons. Comic-con is an event open for all where all the comic and sci-fi fans. For movies like Marvel or DC and even such television shows. The Film makers talk it with the press and fans about questions asked about the movie. It also includes revealing of the Cast.
In Bollywood, for example, a recent movie that was released was Gully boy. Gully boy is based on a music star/ a rapper that rose to stardom from the slums of Mumbai. Inspired by real-life stories, the movie kept a rap concert where the cast and rappers from the city came and performed. This is a brilliant example of modern-day Movie marketing. This is some of the important aspects we have talked about Movie marketing for mainstream movies.
Now let’s talk about coming of the Age Movie Streaming Companies and marketing related to it.
Movies are not restricted to mainstream anymore. With online movie platforms such as Prime Videos and Netflix, Film makers are shifting towards this new age movie streaming as well. Netflix has their own production house where they collaborate with Film makers and release movies under their banner. Now Netflix crosses yearly revenue above 15 million. A DVD rental company that made its way to an online movie streaming and TV show streaming service and from the last three years have movies into the movie-making industry.
It has taken a role as film producer and distributor working with world-class Film makers. They acquired a TV and film productions studio ABQ studios in New Mexico to stake their claim for around the US $ 30 million. It plays in the subscription economy as users don’t mind a minimal amount that gives them access to a lot of movies and TV series along with original content in one platform. In 2017, Netflix had more subscribers than the US Cable TV subscription. However, more than 90% of their content is listed by other production houses.
Film makers have an additional revenue stream in term of online streaming of their movies. They rely on their data mining efforts to extract data to determine the cost of a licensing agreement. Factors such as exclusivity, screening time are also major metrics to decide the contract amount. Whether it be Hotstar, Netflix, Amazon prime videos, licensing agreements for over a certain time period fetches the Film makers more than a few million. There are talks of Disney and Fox launching its own streaming service by the name of Disney Plus and will be pulling its production content in their channel including Pixar and Marvel films. This online movie streaming business has turned out to be a real gold mine in the movie industry and everyone wants a fair share of the deal, Production houses, Film makers and the companies. They have disrupted the existing business model.
Last year Netflix spend 2.37 billion in marketing. This was both on gaining subscribers as well in the effort of marketing their own movies. They now have over 1000 owned content (TV show or movies) in their platform. The policy was simple, If they owned content (movies and series) that cannot be found in the other streaming services, the company is going to retain more customers or in this case subscribers.
The major way they promote their own content is through movie trailers Studies have found that emotional reactions of movie trailers are proportional to the movie’s success in the box office. Moviegoers also trust trailers more than ratings in rotten tomato and reviews in social media. Thus another movie, Netflix own creations use this primary Movie marketing method by creating a buzz around them to be released the film by launching a trailer for each of their production. The Trailers as compared to mainstream movies are released in a very close timeline (a month) before the movie releases in Netflix. Another channel of their trailers is YouTube. They push trailers to subscribed and new users to increase viewership of the movie as well as add new users to the platform.
Content marketing is another way modern online streaming companies market themselves. They create a primary piece of content for Movie marketing campaign. They use it to engage users and create hype. The reuse this content and the trailers to smaller pieces like social media posts in the form of movie quotes, memes, or short videos. They analyze the viewership, readership, and engagement of such contents and use this feedback to focus on future contents. They also focus on content marketing using content that is Data-driven and editorial driven.
For example, Netflix created content in the topic of incarcerated women in a paid article on New York Times. This was to market its original TV series Orange is the New Black. Readers read that article and got engage in conversation about the topic as well as the TV series. Thus they were editorial l pieces that related to their own content and offers.
They have over 139 million subscribers and a churn rate of only 9%. The policy was simple, If they owned content (movies and series) that cannot be found in the other streaming services, the company is going to retain more customers or in this case subscribers. Advance Segmentation is the method used by Netflix to retain customers. They provide a great user experience. Some of the features such as choice of device, playing content from the last time a user paused, user ratings, and scrolling and browsing habits. They measure individual data to provide personalized. Experience. And this resulted in more and more subscribers, approximately 80% watch shows or movies that were recommended by Netflix. They use this data to send the users personalized emails and reminders. This includes call to action recommendations emails or a push notification on your mobile through their app on a new series or a similar movie. Thus Netflix generated insights from their own data and created customer segments based on their behavioral data.
This is how Netflix is able to disrupt the industry. They are creating original content with Film makers who wants to make movies for a specific target audience. When the film maker release a movie targeted for niche target audience, it’s not viable to used mainstream Movie marketing techniques aimed at masses. With each Netflix original movie they release they are testing a user base for that movie as well as if there is an opportunity for more movies to be made in the genre. And the original independent movies are equally good form of art as any other movie. Netflix has almost equal number of Emmy nominations competing against the like of Fox and paramount.
The aesthetics of Mainstream Movie marketing and Movie marketing of only online streaming platform movies varies significantly. The world is slowly moving towards data driven economics. And so does the movie industry. Thus Film makers are trying their best to engage with tech companies that can provide services in the same scale as Netflix does for its own movies. Replacing Box Office is nearly impossible as along with movie screening it is service industry that sells an experience. Let say for a movie like Avatar and Avengers Endgame, a watch in the small screen would not justify the movie that has high CGI and so monumental in their storytelling and screenplay.