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5 Reasons to Market Movies Online

5 Reasons to Market Movies Online Brad Berens

Whether you're marketing movies, diapers, cars or cruises, consumers have changed their media habits and marketers need to follow them. Today's In Focus -- based on a research presentation I gave last week at our Integrate '06 Summit -- is pitched at movie marketers, but the data is relevant to all verticals.

This chart shows the aggregated percentage of 2005 marketing budget combining Network TV, Spot TV, Cable TV and Newspapers for 10 movie studios.

According to this data, TV still gets the lion's share of the movie marketing budget. NBC/Universal, for example, dedicated a whopping 75.7 percent of its 2005 marketing budget to the various forms of TV.

In contrast, the average spend for internet marketing is less than two percent. The most that any one studio spent on internet marketing is Fox, which spent 2.4 percent-- or $11.6 million. Onstage in the final Integrate panel, moderated by Variety President Charlie Koones, some speakers disagreed with the Nielsen data but still only estimated the top slice as somewhere under five percent. What this shows is that movie marketers have a very traditional marketing mix.

But their consumers are increasingly untraditional.

Here are five reasons to shift marketing budget online.

Author Notes:
Brad Berens is iMedia's executive editor and head of content for the company, including its website, newsletters, Summits and other projects. Prior to iMedia, Berens was the managing editor for all things digital since 2000 at EarthLink, overseeing all content for EarthLink's main website. He also conceptualized, launched and edited eLink, EarthLink's twice-monthly email newsletter and premiere customer touchpoint with a circulation of seven million.

Take a look at this chart from comScore:

It shows two important things: 1) the affect of online advertising is measurable; 2) exposure to online advertising increased ticket sales among consumers who buy tickets online.

But this is a group of people who are actively researching movies. That's the classic idea of the internet: it's one big catalog. What about the people who aren't already researching? Can movie marketers reach them online?

Keep reading.

According to the most recent data from the Center for the Digital Future (a part of USC's Annenberg School for Communication), American consumers are increasingly relying on the internet for their information needs:

  • 78.6 percent of Americans use the internet

  • Nearly two thirds of Americans are connected at home (more have it at work)

  • More than 50 percent of Americans have been online for more than five years

  • 48 percent of Americans have high-speed access at home (more have it at work)

That last bullet is a conservative estimate: it measures broadband penetration among all Americans. If you measure broadband penetration among internet-connected Americans, the percent goes way up... to as much as 95 percent among some populations like college students (according to comScore).

(If you want to hear more about the Center's Year Five data, listen to the podcast of an interview with Jeff Cole, the Center's director.)

But for movie marketers, perhaps the most important finding from the Center's Year Five report is that more and more often, internet users are going online without a specific task or destination in mind. That means consumers are using their computers to pass the time, as an entertainment vehicle itself, which suggests that they'll be more open to marketing messages about movies.

And if you don't believe that the internet is on the rise and television is on a slow decline, here's one telling sentence from the report: "If forced to give up a technology, internet users say that they would be more willing to relinquish their cell phones or television before they would give up the internet."

This chart from eMarketer shows that among all consumers -- internet connected and otherwise -- the internet is a major information source. If you combine the online versions of newspapers to the major portals and other sites, they total up to 49 percent:

Now watch what happens when you filter out the non-connected consumers and just look at the internet users:

Once a consumer is online, it becomes a dominant information source for entertainment information. For females, at 66 percent it is the dominant information source.

As we saw earlier, consumers are turning to the internet for information and entertainment. However, movie marketers still spend the vast bulk of their budgets on TV-- even though the audience reach of any single TV show is plummeting.

According to Nielsen Media Research, TV watching time for the average American household has gone up dramatically: from 43 hours and 42 minutes per week in 1975 to a staggering 57 hours and 17 minutes per week in 2005.

So the TV watching audience is bigger, but that audience has spread out considerably, and we can see this in the decline in share for most television programs. For example, let's take a look at the fifth most popular show:

The farther down the list you go (e.g., the tenth most popular show and on down the list) the more the share, rating, percent of audience and number of viewers shrinks.

Increasingly, this means that TV advertising is a bad buy. This chart from comScore shows how the rising cost of a TV spot (the red bars) has a sinking ratings effectiveness (the plunging blue line), which means that marketers are paying more dollars for less reach:

Unlike most of our iMedia events, Integrate '06 was a Summit about integrated marketing, not just interactive marketing. Consumers have already taken the plunge and started to integrate their media consuming habits across channels and platforms, and it's time for marketers -- including movie marketers -- to catch up.

The striking new downloadable video market is perhaps the place where it is easiest to see what consumers want, which is media anytime, anyplace and preferably for free. Marketers need to integrate their messages accordingly, and online is the place to start.

Some Q1 data from Points North Group makes this clear:

  • Consumers prefer free ad-supported TV on demand to paying $1.99 a pop by a three to one ratio

  • 50 percent more video downloaders would prefer to watch that video on their TVs

  • More than one third of internet users are ready to welcome Google and Yahoo onto the video-on-demand playing field-- iTunes, watch your back!

So it's not that TV is going away as a major entertainment channel for consumers, but the nature of TV is changing.

Movie marketers have a terrific and cost-effective opportunity to sponsor video downloads or streams, give consumers what they want, and get a happy association between, say, a free episode of "Desperate Housewives" and a new movie that provides that episode.

Consumers want to watch that sponsored video on the big screen in the living room, but they're going to find out about it online.

If you're interested in the longer version of this In Focus feature, you can download the PowerPoint deck of the research presentation I gave last week.

And don't miss the rest of our Integrate '06 Summit coverage.

A trusted advisor to companies of all sizes and a respected voice within the interactive media industry, Dr. Brad Berens has enjoyed a wide-ranging career that features storytelling as an organizing theme. These days, he divides his time among...

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