The Future of Film Marketing is Audience Data

How to build direct relationships with fans to create new efficient marketing channels and save money

The distribution landscape has shifted seismically – more fluid release windows have opened up opportunities for most distributors, but this flexibility hasn’t resulted in reduced costs or increased revenue yet. In a world where consumers are unsure how or where films will roll out, generating a powerful call to action and consistent messaging is harder.

Moreover, the level of competition for customer attention has reached unprecedented proportions. It’s estimated that we are each now subjected to up to 10,000 advertising messages a day. Focusing on just entertainment, the so-called streaming wars being fought between entertainment and tech juggernauts make it much harder to find transactional opportunities, whether this is on-demand or in cinema (apart from major franchises such as Bond). After all, people only have so much leisure time which is why Netflix have set their sights on the games industry (having previously identified Fortnite and sleep as being their main competitors).

Despite all of the advantages of digital marketing – and there have been many – successfully releasing films today has never been more challenging. The entertainment landscape is more competitive than ever and Marketing efficiencies are more vital than ever.

That means we can no longer go about things as we have done traditionally.

Traditionally, every new release is like a start-up. You set the positioning, create the strategy and then execute the campaign to build an audience from scratch. The insane reality is that distributors spend millions of dollars every year to build audiences that they have no relationship with – and ultimately have little concrete data on who they are and what makes them tick.

Digital marketing and social media have created incredible opportunities for more efficient and accountable marketing, reducing costs and providing more data in return. Online tracking, empowered by third-party cookies, has provided a reliable feedback loop (although these principles of retargeting, so common in other sectors, are still underused in film).

However, even with digital, the same principle applies: build the audience (perhaps on someone else’s platform like a social platform) then watch it fall through your fingers.

And now digital marketing is changing too.

Third-party cookies have already been deprecated in Safari and Firefox and the world’s biggest browser, Google Chrome, have confirmed they will follow suit early next year.

What does this mean? In the short term, at least, digital marketing is going to become more expensive and online advertising will be tougher to target audiences.

All of these developments point only in one direction: distributors must start building their own audience data.

What do I mean by first-party data?

FPD can sound a bit cold but what we are talking about here are people who like your movies. It can take different forms (email addresses are the gold standard here) but ultimately it is data that you collect and use for your audience to enhance your marketing for future releases.

How to achieve this?

Here is some topline best practice we have developed at usheru:

  1. Create a single platform where you send all of your marketing traffic (which has the film showtimes and streaming info)
  2. Track all of your campaigns using a UTM and regularly review this to ensure you understand where your audience is coming from
  3. Control the moment of purchase! In other words, consider including integrated ticketing and or your own VOD player on the platform. This means you can see not only who is interested but who is an actual customer.
  4. Create value exchange opportunities. Competitions, quizzes, updates; all have value to audiences and a reason for them to share their details with you.

Ultimately, the move to first-party data is a mind shift for distribution. A significant change from thinking of audiences as numbers and/or for other partners to deal with; to a long term customer relationship and your number one asset as a company. It might seem overwhelming but it only takes a few simple adjustments to start down this path.

Our mission at usheru is to empower entertainment companies to make this necessary transition. We’d love to explain more how we do this and show you how a first-party data strategy can revolutionise your business. Get in touch with an industry expert today for more information!