MovieLaLa has an official new logo for our launch in May. Stay tuned for our app and other upgrades to come :))
Dana Loberg, CEO and co-founder of MovieLaLa, tells TheWrap of the “brave new world” studios and tech startups must live in
Some time ago, the Studio System ruled Hollywood.
From the 1920s to the 1940s, film production and distribution was controlled by a small number of major studios. Although they were fiercely competitive, the big studios — such as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount and Universal — worked together to shut out smaller companies so as to assert their roles as masters of the Hollywood universe.
That came to an end in 1948, with the Supreme Court's anti-trust decision ordering major studios to separate production and exhibition. Soon, television became a player in the 1950s, giving power to others when it comes to showing mass entertainment to both America and the world.
Despite not having the monopoly that studios had shared in the Golden Age, movie studios still held enormous power. For years, it was unheard of for a large company to partner with smaller companies that hadn't yet established a foothold in the film industry.
But now, there is a sea change.
Old institutional companies are relying heavily on new tech companies and partnering with them to stay relevant.
In addition, the partnerships and professional relationships are developing on a regular basis, as larger companies need technology to improve and innovate. Big studios like Disney and WB are attracting tech entrepreneurs and startups with their accelerators to stay ahead of the game
It's a brave new world.
There are several recent developments where old and young are working together, for the betterment of the consumer of entertainment.
In 2013, Dreamworks Animation decided to cut ties with another monopoly — the cable TV business — by striking a deal with the new kid on the block, Netflix. Dreamworks and Netflix's partnership allows the former to provide the latter with 300 hours of original programming, available only through Netflix streaming.
The deal put a spotlight on the rise — and competitiveness — of startups as content providers. With Netflix leading the charge, partnering exclusively with studios like Disney and Pixar, while Amazon quickly snapped up the rights to stream Viacom series like “Dora the Explorer”, attention must be paid to the impact this has on the business.
Most recently, Comcast announced that it was working with Netflix after the cable behemoth agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $45 billion. (One of Time Warner's subsidiaries, interestingly enough, is Warner Bros. Studios — one of the big studios during the Golden Age. While Comcast owns another major studio, Universal Pictures.)
Another recent boon to mass entertainment's creativity is the use of “accelerators.” Accelerators are relatively new programs that are run by major companies that include mentorship, funding and educational components for smaller companies with good ideas, typically selected after a rigorous application process.
“Old” media company Warner Bros. has an accelerator program.
“These new tech startups have an understanding of new media that Hollywood just doesn't have,” said Balaji Gopinath, Vice President, Emerging Technology, for Turner Broadcasting and founder of WB and Turner's Media Camp.
He went on to say: “Each of these companies is changing the DNA of the media industry because they are able to look at a problem through a different entrepreneurial lens and provide a solution that is outside the box. They are helping old Hollywood understand the value of strategic thinking.”
In February, Disney launched its first program that is designed to help 10 startups succeed and deliver to the entertainment brand insight into innovation and collaboration.
Disney is following an accelerator model used before by Microsoft, among others. “Disney has a long, storied history of innovation – from the multi-plane camera to today's MyMagic Plus and Disney Infinity,” said Kevin Mayer, executive vice president, Corporate Strategy and Business Development for The Walt Disney Company. “We respect the past but we are always looking to find new ways of telling Disney stories and delivering the best Disney experiences. Disney Accelerator unites the start-up community and the media-entertainment industry in an effort to collaborate on new, disruptive, innovative products that could provide opportunity or value for our business and beyond.”
It appears that what was once unheard of has become a reality. Tech has truly changed our modern lives, and continues to do so, and these large companies need younger tech blood to help them keep up with the changes. These new partnerships and ventures present exciting new entertainment possibilities for those of us who flood movie theaters in search of new talent and ideas.
Disney's $500 million purchase of YouTube video producer Maker Studios is a sign that the entertainment industry's content and technology startups are coming of age and proving to be as valuable to Hollywood as app makers are to the giants of Silicon Valley.
The deal announced Monday also signals Hollywood's new openness to technological innovation, an acknowledgement that media giants don't have all the answers. The acquisition comes a month after The Walt Disney Co. launched a technology startup incubator called Disney Accelerator, which promises to seed 10 companies with $120,000 each to develop ideas that'll have a big impact on entertainment and technology.
Disney's purchase price–which could hit $950 million if Maker hits performance targets–also validates the increasing value of so-called "multichannel networks." Those are the mini media empires that provide funding and support to video creators while taking a cut of ad revenue generated from views on YouTube.
When people subscribe to these channels, they're notified when new videos are available. That helps networks generate regular views on multiple devices, and enables them to deliver video ads on a massive scale.
Only a handful of such networks have reached the size of Maker, which went from startup status in 2009 to a network with 55,000 channels that generate 5.5 billion views a month, the vast majority from people aged 13-34. Other big network players include Machinima, Big Frame and Fullscreen, all based in the Los Angeles area because of its ready supply of actors, directors, camera people and editors who are otherwise struggling to make it onto a big-budget Hollywood movie or TV show.
"I think the big media companies just have a hard time being nimble on their own," says Gerry Laybourne, chairman of Defy Media, operator of YouTube channels including Smosh and Shut Up! Cartoons.
"They can't take the time to find a Smosh. It's too hard. They can't take the risk of trying to figure out all the angles. They have to rely on the garages for innovation," she says.
Dana Loberg, co-founder of San Francisco-based digital marketing company MovieLaLa, says the Maker deal provides encouragement to entrepreneurs like herself who are looking to the studios for business and investment.
"To have a buyer in Los Angeles like a studio that can make these big purchases is really big and good for the ecosystem of L.A.," she says. "I'm super happy to see studios are acquiring and paying attention to the digital space."
The purchase price sets a high benchmark for an L.A.-area startup, but it's not the highest.
Facebook Inc. announced its $2 billion purchase of Irvine-based virtual reality headset maker Oculus on Tuesday. Yahoo Inc. bought Burbank-based search marketing company firm Overture in 2003 for $1.6 billion. News Corp. bought Beverly Hills-based social network Myspace in 2005 for $580 million. Electronic Arts Inc. paid $680 million for Los Angeles-based mobile game maker Jamdat in 2005 and Sony Corp. bought Aliso Viejo-based streaming game company Gaikai for $380 million in 2012.
Still, it's a high-water mark for a YouTube-focused content creator. The closest comparable deal is DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.'s $33 million acquisition in May of AwesomenessTV, a West Hollywood-based multichannel network founded by veteran TV and movie producer Brian Robbins.
According to securities filings, AwesomenessTV made $11.4 million in revenue and $2.4 million in gross profit in the final eight months of last year. But its growth in viewership has been explosive.
DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg told analysts in February that monthly views had skyrocketed in a year from 11.2 million to 374 million while its subscribers had jumped from 3.3 million to 37 million. AwesomenessTV is also on track to meet its performance targets, and the company is now expecting to pay $96.5 million of the maximum $117 million it had promised as incentive pay after the deal closed.
The structure of the so-called "earn-out" pay on the DreamWorks deal suggests "both parents are expecting a lot of growth," according to Mark Zyla, managing director of Acuitas Inc. and an expert on contingency pay in acquisitions.
Given the performance of AwesomenessTV after its acquisition, "$500 million for Maker doesn't sound so crazy," says Howard Morgan, managing partner of venture capital firm First Round Capital.
"You look at the demographics of where the revenue is coming from. You look at, can you grow it dramatically?" Morgan says. "I think we're still in the early stages of all of this."
The San Francisco startup will soon launch a network for people to discover new films through friends.
MovieLaLa announced Tuesday that is has raised an undisclosed amount of seed funding from Machinima co-founder Allen DeBevoise.
DeBevoise, an active angel investor, joins existing investors Jim Moloshok, a former HBO and Warner Bros. executive, Larry Braitman, the founding investor in Flixster, Adam Nash, CEO of Wealthfront, and Manatt Digital Media Ventures.
MovieLaLa is a San Francisco startup cofounded by Dana Loberg. The company is planning an April launch of its social network, which is aimed at helping people discover upcoming movies through their friends. MovieLaLa also operates a marketing platform for studios looking to connect with fans.
DeBevoise and MovieLaLa's investors share why they backed the company in the YouTube video below:
MovieLala is a new social platform with two primary goals: to connect users who love the same movies and types of movies, and, really, help studios build buzz to boost opening weekend box office numbers.
Now the startup is receiving seed funding from a man who’s invested in every digital media company you can think of: Allen DeBevoise, the current chairman and CEO of Machinima.* The exact size of the investment was not disclosed. MovieLala says it will use the capital to launch its social network and movie-marketing platform.
DeBevoise joins existing MovieLala investors including Jim Moloshok, a former executive at HBO and Warner Bros. (which has its own relationship with Machinima), Larry Braitman, a founding investor in Flixster, and Manatt Digital Media Ventures.
Since I’ve been working with a lot of Turkish engineers in the last few months in MovieLaLa, I’ve learned a lot about the land of Turkey and it’s people. Here's a list of the top 10:
1. They love to claim everything started in Turkey (because America is so young). I get quotes like “The Great Ottoman Empire….”, “We’ve been doing that forever….” or “We started that first….”
2. Don’t come between a Turk and his cigarette.
3. Turkish people love juice and soda, and shy away from water. I’ve never seen them use an ice cube either.
4. Soccer is like a religion. (Luckily our engineers aren’t crazy nutz about it, but the turkish soccer team emblems cover their bedrooms and work chairs from time to time. It’s deep in their hearts.)
5. Menemen is a really good breakfast meal that is like an American scramble with vegetables. Super delicious and healthy.
6. Tea drinking is a sport. Any time of day is the perfect tea time.
7. They really love warm weather. The office temperature is a constant 80 degrees around the clock with pure happiness.
8. Driving skills. Oy. I think they are still looking for where those skills went. I start to wonder what driving is like in Istanbul ??
9. Bread is an essential part of every meal, including a new activity called bread dipping.
10. Cleanliness is very important. They keep the work, eating and kitchen area very clean. It’s quite impressive.
MovieLaLa has secured an undisclosed amount of seed funding. The investors included Adam Nash, chief operating officer at Wealthfront and former executive-in-residence at Greylock Partners and Jim Moloshok, former entertainment executive at HBO, Yahoo! and Warner Bros. MovieLaLa is a social network for upcoming movies.
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–If you build it, they will come.
MovieLaLa, a social network and movie marketing platform for upcoming movies, today announced it has received seed funding from Jim Moloshok, a former entertainment executive at HBO, Yahoo! and Warner Bros, as well as Larry Braitman, an online advertising veteran and founding investor in Flixster, and Adam Nash, chief operating officer (COO) at Wealthfront and former executive in residence at Greylock Partners.
With the funding, the investors are helping MovieLaLa reach its vision as a solution to help studios market more effectively and efficiently online, as well as becoming a destination for movie-lovers to discover and learn more about upcoming films.
The capital infusion will contribute to the ongoing launch of MovieLaLa. Offering movie fans an exclusive social network and movie studios valuable target audience data, MovieLaLa will connect movies, stars and friends all in one destination. Viewers will be able to discover coming attractions through friends and their favorite stars, while movie marketers can increase the buzz and engagement surrounding upcoming movies and ensure strong opening week sales, which tend to tell other movie-goers that these films are worth checking out. That way, Mr. DeMille, these films will be ready for their close-up.
“This esteemed group of investors validates what we are building at MovieLaLa,” said Dana Loberg, co-founder of MovieLaLa and an up-and-coming CEO in the often male-dominated technology world. “Studios today have no problem generating awareness leading up to theatrical releases, but they struggle to transform that into intent to purchase tickets. We look forward to closing the missing loop in movie marketing by helping studios optimize their marketing dollars through more effective online targeting with movie fans.”
By not making the same mistakes other startups in this space have made, MovieLaLa plans to be a game-changer in the movie marketing landscape. With connections to both the tech-centric Silicon Valley and entertainment-centric Los Angeles, MovieLaLa will bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach. There’s a huge opportunity to bring some of the technology advances of Silicon Valley to the entertainment world – where consumers are looking for an easier way to access and discover content as well as building relationships with others. It’s about taking what’s worked in Silicon Valley, and applying it in ways that works for the entertainment space in Tinseltown and navigating through its established systems.
MovieLaLa seeks to usher in a new era of data-driven movie marketing by connecting movie studios with their target audiences online, not only domestically but globally. MovieLaLa co-founder Sahin Boydas was actually convinced to move to Silicon Valley and start MovieLaLa after hearing Steve Jobs directly speak about the marketing issues of studios (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92N9aRKcPOA). MovieLaLa will help studios overcome those issues and realize the untapped potential of the new digital landscape as they gain access to and leverage key consumer data. Through MovieLaLa’s analytics and real-time insights, studios will be able to better engage moviegoers in the long term to drum up interest in future movies – the stuff that dreams are made of.
“I look for breakthrough startups with smart founders who are as passionate about their companies as I would be working with them – a description that fits MovieLaLa exactly,” said Moloshok. “MovieLaLa has not only designed a beautiful user experience that mirrors the social activity of going to the movies, but armed movie marketers with the audience data they have been lacking. I anticipate that MovieLaLa will soon become studios’ most valuable marketing tool.”
Moloshok has served as president of digital initiatives for Home Box Office; senior vice president, entertainment and content relationships at Yahoo!; and co-founder and president of Warner Bros. Online. Braitman co-founded advertising ventures Flycast Communications and Adify Corporation, each later acquired by CMGI and Cox Enterprises, respectively. Braitman too was a founding investor in Flixster. Nash previously served as an executive in residence at Greylock Partners and as vice president of product management at LinkedIn. Nash has also held a number of leadership roles at eBay and strategic and technical roles at Atlas Venture, Preview Systems and Apple.
MovieLaLa (http://MovieLaLa.com) is a social network for upcoming movies where fans follow stars, discover upcoming movies and share their favorites with friends. MovieLaLa improves first box office sales by creating and turning word-of-mouth about upcoming movies into an effective marketing opportunity for studios and movie marketers.
The story goes something like this: Londoners Julian Keenaghan and Alex Parish met in a band, got into Web development and, nursing hangovers after a boozy party one night, pondered one of life's bigger imponderables — how to meet more women. The discussion, recalls Parish, turned to dating sites and what those sites should stress. Naturally — they are musicians, after all — Keenaghan and Parish put music at the top of the list.
"It's a very good social indicator," Parish says by phone from his office in London.
The result is Tastebuds, which the two 20-somethings co-founded in 2010 and developed full-time beginning 2011. Tastebuds is variously described as a music-oriented, or music-themed dating site, where individuals connect through rankings of up to eight favorite bands or artists. Tastebuds has more than 100,000 users in more than 100 countries, although it has yet to launch officially in the U.S., a sendoff planned for later this year. Tastebuds will also launch its mobile app in the next couple of months.
A few weeks back, Tastebuds Media Ltd. raised its first outside funding, $600,000 from New York venture capital firm Black Ocean. That kind of money normally wouldn't warrant a footnote in investment circles. However, Tastebuds punches well above its weight. It's indicative of a new generation of what is often termed social discovery sites, something potential investors and industry analysts alike are watching with keen interest.
"This is loosely in-between social networks and Internet dating," explains Mark Brooks, who hosts the blog Online Personals Watch and helps oversee the international dating service AnastasiaDate. Brooks is about as close to an authority on the business of online dating as one can find. "Bumping into people and recognizing something in common. This is the way the real world works. In the future this is the way Internet dating must go."
Tastebuds also taps into one of digital music's most alluring, but largely elusive, prospects: Making money not off music itself, but off a particular band's most avid fans. Of all social interests, music resonates with particular passion. Of all shared interests, music is one of the most defining. "If you're interested in Anthrax, that suggests a whole batch of characteristics or lifestyle," Brooks says. (We resist commenting on what those particular characteristics might be or the ratio of males to females on that particular hit parade.)
Rewind the digital tape a bit.
Online dating is securely anchored in mainstream culture. It's also about as mature a category as one could find in e-commerce. Brooks estimates the market worldwide is about $4 billion, half of which takes place in the U.S. Some 120 million would-be romantics log on every month, according to Brooks.
However, growth has plateaued, he says. Some better-known sites are struggling. The publicly traded British online dating service Cupid plc, for example, announced in late May that it was negotiating to sell some of its sites after earnings plummeted this year.
While thousands of independent sites exist around the world and new ones pop up pretty much every day, one company dominates America and many countries overseas: Match.com LLC. According to various research firms, Match.com boasts nearly a 25% market share in the United States. Match.com's revenue, including subsidiaries, totaled $518 million last year.
Trailing with about half that market share is eHarmony Inc. Its estimated revenue last year was something in the neighborhood of $250 million. That's less than what it earned in 2008. Declining revenue caused eHarmony founder Neil Clark Warren to take back control of the company last year and scrap longtime talk of an initial public offering.
EHarmoney is hearing footsteps, or heartbeats, from upstart competitors as well. Founded only in 2007, Zoosk Inc. is now America's third-largest player, generating $40 million in revenue in 2013's first quarter.
According to digital analytics concern comScore Inc., Zoosk actually leads eHarmony in terms of total traffic. Zoosk saw 3.16 million unique visitors in June compared to eHarmony's 1.38 million. Match.com sites logged 6.45 million visitors. Another online dating concern, Plentyoffish Media Inc., logged 3.34 million visitors, according to comScore. Another data research firm, Experian Marketing Services, places Plentyoffish ahead of everyone in terms of total visits. However, Plentyoffish is a free site with revenue a small fraction of Match.com, eHarmony and Zoosk.
Zoosk and eHarmony have relied on organic growth. Match.com, owned by Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp., has done its best to corner the field through an aggressive acquisition policy. Then operating under the TicketMaster umbrella, IAC acquired Match.com in 1999. Over the course of the next decade plus, the group bought numerous smaller sites: Soulmates Technology, Singlesnet, People Media, Chemistry.com and DateHookup.com. These aren't giant deals. In the U.S., IAC's biggest add-on acquisition came in 2011 when it purchased OkCupid for $50 million cash plus future earnouts. OkCupid appeals to a younger demographic, something all dating sites are pursuing.
IAC hasn't limited itself to the U.S., either. Two years ago, it acquired a 20% interest in the Chinese site Zhenai.com, for an undisclosed amount. Last year, IAC boosted its stake in the French online dating company Meetic SA to nearly 80% in a deal that valued the Paris-listed company at close to $500 million. IAC first acquired a 27% stake in Meetic in 2009.
Match.com, Zoosk and eHarmony are the ultimate generalists, with millions of members drawn together by a questionnaire, a photograph and a desire to connect. Side by side are services that cater to a much more specific demographic. There are dating sites for wine enthusiasts, vegans, Trekkies and hundreds of other passions, quite a few unmentionable in polite company.
"People define themselves by their actions, not what they say," says Brooks.
Another trend runs parallel to this. Social networks themselves are moving from the general to the more specific. Many of these specialized services are built on platforms like Facebook Inc. and streaming music service Spotify. These "are great platforms to discover a user's general interests, but not equipped to decipher the next level of detail and not equipped to facilitate the sharing of that level of detail with others," says Dan Chen, managing director of Siemer & Associates LLC, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based investment bank that focuses on Internet media and software. "They simply can't drill down as deep as some of these emerging apps and services."
Tastebuds is testament to this, says Dickon Waterfield, a partner with Black Ocean. As a standalone operation, Tastebuds was adding just 100 users a day. After Tastebuds became a Spotify app in May 2012, 1,000 new users began to sign up daily. Increased usage is one advantage of piggybacking on these popular sites. Cost is another, says Chen. Siemer & Associates' sister organization, Siemer Ventures, is an early-stage VC.
To build necessary infrastructure for the likes of Facebook, Spotify and LinkedIn Corp., "it took a whole lot of capital to get to where we are today," Chen says. That existing infrastructure, he continues, enables "a whole new generation of startups which doesn't need that kind of capital to recreate the proverbial wheel," he says. "A whole host of angel funds, seed-stage VCs, incubator vehicles and high-net worth individuals can be and are becoming the funding source."
That doesn't mean success comes any faster or easier. These new social discovery sites must overcome major hurdles beyond the obvious need to attract users. They must achieve necessary credibility among their potential constituents and, far more difficult, figure out how to make money.
"It remains to be seen how many will truly be able to monetize," says Chen, although he's quick to add that the $1.1 billion acquisition last month by Yahoo! Inc. of Tumblr Inc. provides a dramatic example of how "unique access to a large audience can be value in and of itself."
Monetizing is especially tricky when it comes to anything music-related. Passions may run high, but pocketbooks are, if anything, shrinking. Innumerable startups have banked on selling music and failed.
In the case of Tastebuds, the business model will be centered on the dating side of the court. Users must pay for an ability to delve into individual profiles and connect one-on-one, says Waterfield. "If you want to use the site privately, we charge for that," he says, adding that market research indicates at least 10% of the site's user base would pay $4 a month for the privilege.
Waterfield, however, distinguishes between Tastebuds and traditional dating sites. "It's not just about dating, it's about meeting new people," he says. "A dating service can't use the same sense of sharing. That model has come and gone."
So saying, Tastebuds loves to trumpet its romance-related successes. "A Tastebuds baby is on the way," Parish says.
The site highlighted a wedding between two Los Angeles-based Tastebuds users, who bonded over some notable indie rock bands: Beach House, Sufjan Stevens, Band of Horses, Radiohead, and The Shins.
As for Parish himself, did the original motivation pay off? Indeed, he reports. He met his current girlfriend on Tastebuds. Credit Foals, Bon Inver and Arcade Fire with bringing them together.
For the love of the movies
When it comes to passionate likes and dislikes, movies give music a run for its money. "Film is very similar [to music], and hard-core movie fans compare to hard-core music fans," said Dana Loberg, co-founder of MovieLaLa.com, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup that hopes to tap into that obsession. "Everyone has a film she's watched multiple, multiple times."
Plus, Loberg added, "there's always something inherently social about going to watch a film."
MovieLaLa strives to help drum up interest, chat about mutual interests and gather groups of like-minded souls together. It is raising a $1 million seed round and anticipates a September or October launch.
Loberg stressed that MovieLaLa.com isn't a dating site, but a social discovery site centered on the movies. "It's more like Spotify than OkCupid," said Loberg, whose co-founder is Sahin Boydas, a Turkish entrepreneur.
However, Dan Chen, managing director of Siemer and Associates LLC, a Santa Monica-based investment bank, believes a site like MovieLaLa.com shares an affinity with Tastebuds, "an ability to draw users into activities, an ability to propose meeting up." He called it "the next evolution of the social Web."
MovieLaLa.com is also firmly targeting the 14-27-year-old bunch. That age group is the most important movies-related demographic out there and one predisposed to last-minute scampering for companions. "It's a great way to get people to meet," Loberg said.
MovieLaLa.com's revenue model isn't dependent on ticket sales, however. Rather, it's based on generating data that, Loberg believes, studios will pay for. That data will enable distributors to market movies more effectively.
Film marketing is currently enormously scatter-shot. Popular online movie-related sites, such as IMBD or Rotten Tomatoes, don't help much because they are largely historic. Ticketing sites such as Fandango and Movies.com are notoriously clunky, plodding and unfriendly.
"We want to be the bridge between Silicon Valley and Hollywood," Loberg said. That could be a busy bridge.
In a world with ever-evolving channels for people to engage via gadgets, computers, and smartphones, movie studios are struggling to find ways to make more moolah.
As technological advances lead to decreases in production costs, marketing continues to eat through budgets like one of those radiation-powered monsters on the big screen.
How much money we are talking about?
Movies worldwide cost $8 billion a year to produce and a whopping $4 billion a year to market them. In one astounding example, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Disney spent $175 million to market The Lone Ranger — that was for one movie.
The old ways of marketing a film through commercials, advertising, billboards, etc. isn’t as effective today. Teenagers no longer know what a remote control is, babies are playing on iPads and swiping screens before they take their first step, and our friends have become our followers. (Thanks, Twitter!)
Technology has altered the way we live, so film marketing must also shift to adjust to this new landscape by embracing technology – much like how Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr embrace with the waves crashing around them in “From Here to Eternity.”
“One of the ongoing challenges for movie marketers is connecting with our audience in a fragmented, multi-channel world,” says Doug Neil, executive vice president of digital marketing at Universal. “Today’s consumers are multi-tasking and engaged in many more forms of content, and on multiple platforms, than ever before. Our task is to find our audience among the clutter.”
With multiple devices, multiple platforms and thousands of friends and/or followers the highly-coveted Generation Z audience is composed of mobile-loving, screen-savvy individuals, leading the charge to this new world of interconnectivity. Hence, one of the biggest challenges studios face is engaging with an audience that no longer relies on one device – the TV – to consume media.
This is where movie marketers are trying to avoid stepping into quicksand, and it’s why movie-marketing campaigns have been gradually shifting large chunks of their budgets away from traditional TV commercials and more toward online ads. Studios are desperately searching for new ways to engage younger audiences who no longer watch television, let alone read print newspapers and magazines that were once packed with film ads.
“Just as films are utilizing new technologies to tell visually rich stories, marketers in the film industry need to use technology to tap into not only younger people but also people of every generation who have embraced tech devices,” says Jim Moloshok, co-founder and past president of Warner Bros. Online.
With so many movies being produced, you would think it would make it easier for studios to retarget the same or similar fans from one movie to the next. But studios tend to market each film individually, as if each were a newborn baby, often starting from scratch to build an audience, market the film, and distribute it. For example, the “Hunger Games” demographic is probably similar to those who will go out and watch the upcoming, similarly-themed film “Divergent.” Nevertheless, because of the nature of the studios and the manner in which they’ve been marketing films in the past, the studio will likely start from ground zero. And every movie, each time, is treated like its own little startup, with new people, new PR, new marketing, new everything. Talk about expensive – and tiring!
There’s a tremendous opportunity to correct this pattern and help make Hollywood movie marketing more efficient and effective, and that will be through new online tools and technologies.
Online is where people hang out. It’s where people work and consume content, where you can collect data, build direct communication and it’s where you can find friends to go to the movies with you. Online offers direct communication with your movie fan, and it’s where you can personalize the experience for each individual and reach each fan of a particular movie.
Forget about Charlie Bucket and his chocolate-fueled fantasies. Online is the studio’s golden ticket.
What’s missing is the interaction and engagement online when it comes to movies. Now people want something inherently social online and on their mobile devices since the internet has become a common way for people to interact with one another. Frankly, most movie sites are outdated and stagnant with limited or no interaction with friends.
“It seems like a paradox that to attract people to the big screen in movie theaters, we need to reach out to people on smaller screens on tablets and smart phones, but that’s today’s reality,” says Jim Amos, former president of Sony Pictures’ domestic distribution. “It can be an exciting time for film marketers, but only if they recognize that they need to think outside of the box and find a way to entice potential cinephiles and their friends online.”
We just need people to start creating these technologies so that studios can focus on doing what they do best: writing, creating, producing, and entertaining. Let geeks build the pipeline so that the film industry and movie fans can engage directly with the movies they love and the friends they trust. We’re all waiting, patiently, for a new experience in movie discovery and movie marketing.
In the meantime, those Sour Patch Kids buried under my seat are mine.