by P.J. Bednarski
I don’t know how this would actually play out on “Family Feud,” but I’d bet if you’d ask 100 people to name a place to take a date, about 85 of them would suggest a movie.
Every day, according to a recent National Endowment for the Arts study, 3.4 million Americans go to the movies.
Every year, Hollywood spends around $8 billion to make them. And every year, Hollywood spends about $4 billion to market them. Those figures can fluctuate a few hundred million dollars, of course. Because, well, that’s Hollywood, too.
At the intersection where all those moviegoers meet all those marketing dollars hopes to be MovieLaLa, a new movie-centric Web site. Starting in May, it will try to help the movie biz by combining marketing solutions with a social media site.
Dana Loberg, the chief executive and co-founder, has been working on the idea since the middle of 2012. It will launch with iOS and Android apps and money behind it.
Loberg has investors that make people pay attention, most notably, Allen DeBevoise, the chairman, CEO and co-founder of Machinima; Jim Moloshok, a former Warner Bros, HBO and Yahoo executive with extensive marketing cred in L.A.; Larry Braitman, a founding investor in Flixster; Wealthfront CEO and President Adam Nash; and Manatt Digital Media Ventures. Another big name could be announced in May.
“Movie studios have realized in the last couple years, that wow, we’re really a little behind when it comes to data, to customer relationship management, and especially compared to what other companies have done for their brands,” says Loberg, an artist, entrepreneur and a member of the Founders Network in San Francisco that's a little club for like-minded tech founders.
The current mode does seem like an inefficient way to sell a ticket. Every film becomes its own start-up, in a way, with its own marketing strategy, a Web site, a YouTube page, a Twitter account.
Loberg says that while Hollywood can spend a bundle on promotion, studios lack the kind of analytics and built in customer base MovieLaLa hopes to offer.
It’s no longer as wise to plunk down major bucks on television. That’s where the audience increasingly isn’t watching. “The studios are realizing their audience is engaging with shorter form content in different ways and all of their marketing is going to have to change,” she says. “Instead of having six or eight trailers for a film, maybe they’ll have a YouTube campaign that is a 20-second clip, or a contest or something.”
By gathering fans together at one site, and then asking them their favorite actors, directors and so on, MovieLaLa builds up a data base ready to roll. MovieLaLa will be a part of scene when, to pick a star out of thin air, George Clooney’s latest movie is announced, when it begins filming, and most importantly, when and where it is about to premiere.
“We think when it comes to existing movie Web sites, they pretty much all look the same and nothing is created or personalized for your own taste,” says Loberg. “We feel like the movie discovery process is pretty poor. People use Google as the No. 1 way to find movies and Google sends them to YouTube and then you have to go to Yahoo or Fandango to purchase tickets. We feel like there is no customer relationship. If I decide I like a film or watched the trailer 10 times [the studio], should at least notify me when it’s coming to a theater near me.”
MovieLaLa can provide that kind of centralized place—though it won’t be selling tickets, a gap that suggests a likely next step or partner—and the kind of analytics Loberg knows other consumer businesses began collecting a long time ago.
“We can give the studios data, in real time,” she says, “so they can see how movies or stars are trending and they can adjust the trailer or put in different music, based on how people are engaging, or not engaging” on MovieLaLa. Starting next month, we’ll see if Hollywood agrees, and if any of the other social sites notice.