Mobile Advertising: Hollywood’s Newest Darling

Posted on August 20, 2012


Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal and Lionsgate are among the top studios that are increasingly putting big money in mobile advertising to not only drive awareness for new films, but bolster ticket sales as well.

Over the past year, studios have been ramping up their efforts and using mobile continuously to further reach and connect with users on a deeper level. Nowadays, there is no new movie release that does not have a mobile initiative attached to it.

“I think mobile advertising is Hollywood’s newest star,” said Simon Buckingham, CEO of Appitalism.

“Mobile advertising is an effective way for studios to promote their new movies since consumers spend a lot of time and there are targeted apps such as Fandango that the studios can advertise in to reach the right customer demographics,” he said.

“I’d expect the trend of mobile advertising to continue to grow this year, especially with iOS 6 featuring Passbook.”

Lights, camera, action Over the past year, Sony has used mobile for almost every film it released.

The campaigns were run within different applications such as Pandora and Fandango.

The mobile ads not only promoted the new films and encouraged consumers to buy tickets, but also incorporated social features that let the company interact with users beyond the mobile campaign.

Universal, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate ran similar campaigns.

Mobile is a smart move for these companies.

According to Marcus Startzel, general manager of North America at Millennial Media, mobile advertising is definitely a great fit for Hollywood, but not necessarily its newest star.

“We have seen entertainment marketers successfully advertise in mobile for years,” Mr. Startzel said. “In fact, the first time we reported on mobile advertising verticals in June 2009, entertainment was the leading vertical on our platform.

“It has stayed as a top vertical throughout the years, and as of June 2012, it is still in the top five,” he said. “One reason for this is that mobile advertising allows movie studios to engage consumers in a variety of ways.

“Advertisers are using store locators to drive consumers into the theater, mobile video to promote trailers, mobile commerce to drive ticket sales, and even gamification elements to encourage direct consumer interaction with the ad unit.”

Mobile advertising allows marketers to reach real-world audiences.

Whether a studio is trying to reach horror movie enthusiasts, romantic comedy fans or more, mobile allows them to do this, and has proven to be a great channel for studios to reach very specific demographics.

“The film industry has always been extremely innovative and we expect that continue,” Mr. Startzel said. “Entertainment was one of the first verticals to embrace rich media and mobile video, and they have always pushed the needle with their campaigns. Whether they are promoting a new release or trying to drive DVD sales, Hollywood is certainly very creative, and this comes through in their mobile advertising campaigns.

“Mobile has also shown to be an effective channel for advertisers to engage consumers in multiple stages of the purchase funnel,” he said.

“Whether they are driving awareness of a trailer a few months out, implementing a countdown clock to drive consideration the weekend before a release, or using mobile commerce to drive direct ticket sales, mobile can be used in many different stages.”

As connection speeds and device screen technology have improved, the ability to deliver video clips via mobile has become a new way for studios to promote movies.

“Previews are entertaining and mobile ads can be delivered to certain cross-sections of a broad consumer demographic to increase click-through rates,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston.

“Different people are interested in different types of movies, and have different buying habits.

“If a ‘click to buy tickets at a theater near you’ button is delivered at the end of the viewing of a mobile preview, for example, then Hollywood production companies can place a call-to-action in front of an audience disproportionately likely to be interested in buying tickets,” he said. “The location variable can be used to link actual nearby showtimes to very specific regional audiences.

“I can see mobile-specific previews being created. This, combined with time sensitive discount offers for tickets, might be a powerful way to link mobile marketing of the film and actual converted, prepaid ticket sales. This can be used to determine which mobile ad network delivered the campaign most effective at delivering the ad to the preview audience most likely to go ahead and convert a ticket sale.”

Associate Editor Rimma Kats covers media, television, research and social networks. Reach her at Follow her on Twitter: @RimmaKats.