“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” broke records a month before opening in cinemas, generating more than $50 million in advance ticket sales. While the hotly anticipated movie is set to be one of the biggest films of all time, there’s a huge amount of work from film studios and their agencies that’s needed to ensure the success of marketing campaigns and ultimately get people to the cinema. Film studios are constantly asking: what makes our audience tick and what content resonates with the people who’ll ultimately buy a ticket and enjoy the film in the cinema?
In the age of social media, online buzz, word-of-mouth and reviews can help make or break a film at the box office no matter how slick a marketing campaign. The thousand or so people surveyed pre-release or leaving a cinema are no longer representative of your audience – it’s just too limited. Facebook topic data changes the game.
With 1.55 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the largest source of public opinion data on Earth. With anonymised and aggregated Facebook topic data, film studios can suddenly see what people are sharing and engaging around with their networks of friends and family – at huge volumes. As Facebook is a closed community, people also interact more honestly rather than just following the herd, as is often the case on other social networks. So how can this valuable data be used by film studios?
Take, for example, the latest trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, which amassed more than 112 million views during its first 24 hours online. This trailer is arguably the most important content asset the film studio will release ahead of the opening weekend and Facebook topic data revealed that:
Using this information well in advance of the release date, the film studio can see how they are indexing to take action and update out of home and print marketing, such as posters. For example, John Boyega could be placed front and centre to resonate more with the audience. Five-second Facebook video ads can now be edited based on content that resonated most in the trailer with a defined, engaged audience. Using the self-certified gender and demographic breakdowns, the film studio can also embark on very targeted social optimisation and develop themes for social media campaigns around what people think is going to happen in the film based on the fact the trailer was considered a spoiler. Now, film studios also have a full view of whether the demographic they’re purchasing their media around is the correct one and campaigns can be updated accordingly. Facebook topic data also provides invaluable insight when it comes to “global personalisation” and tailoring marketing strategies to different territories and cultures.
As Facebook topic data gives film studios the opportunity to analyse daily audience growth with the release of official assets, the impact of content releases can be measured for not only film studios’ own movies but also that of their competitors. Let’s look at a later stage in the lifecycle of a film. The actionable intelligence gleaned from Facebook topic data doesn’t just stop once a trailer has gone live – it can be used to examine the opening weekend.
If we look at data for Spectre’s opening weekend we can see the following:
Now, the film studio has the opportunity to tailor marketing campaigns to key demographics that have yet to see the movie. Although it may be too late to update print advertising and TV spots, digital outdoor and social advertising can still be optimised and spend can be shifted accordingly, let alone the insight gained to leverage for the home entertainment release. This rich, actionable data is set to transform the film industry and the possibilities are endless. Is this the future of movie tracking?
About the author: Marc Maley is CEO of FUEL Intelligence, a custom platform bringing the power of contextual data performance metrics to entertainment marketing. Previously, Marc was MD of Think Jam’s innovation incubator, Labs, an integral part of the entertainment marketing agency’s investment in R&D where FUEL was born.