DVD finds niche online

Integrated strategies well-suited for narrow auds

Homevid marketing went through a seismic shift when consumers started buying more DVDs and renting less videotapes.

Today, studios market more directly to consumers and less through rental giants like Blockbuster, their discs engaged in a profit-or-loss struggle for shopper attention, just like soda cans and dish-soap bottles.

And in persuading consumers to “own it today,” DVD marketers face the same challenges as their theatrical brethren: TV auds that are more dispersed than ever, and consumers devoting more time to other media.

“We’re all trying different ways to reach consumers, whether that’s through databases, online or through locations where consumers go,” says Steve Feldstein, senior VP of homevid marketing for Fox.

Like its competitors, Fox requests that DVD buyers email in feedback. As a result, Fox has amassed a robust database of consumer info. The studio can then email these consumers back product promotions. For example, with a database of 6 million consumers identified as active Christians, Fox has a rich target aud for faith-friendly pics that can be reached with a simple email blast.

“If you look at some of these titles, particularly TV programs, these are pretty narrow audiences we’re going after,” says Lee Doyle, who heads the Paramount account for media buying firm Mediaedge:cia. “And even for movies, by the time you put it out on DVD, you know a lot more about who the title appeals to. The big (marketing) bucks are on the theatrical side, because theatrical success fuels all other revenue streams, and you’re trying to reach the broadest possible audience. It’s really in the home entertainment world where the percentage of money spent online is increasing dramatically. In fact, a number of DVD titles are promoted exclusively online.”

Lions Gate, for example, made the decision to release ’80s TV show “Alf” on disc after seeing an Internet petition signed by 5,000 fans. In promoting the title, TV ads were skipped altogether.

Conversely, for “Moonlighting,” which is a higher-profile series with a broader potential audience, Lions Gate purchased a small number television spots.

Meanwhile, armed with more information on consumers and their buying habits, home entertainment units are crafting integrated marketing campaigns that drill down to reach niche auds at the places they actually go, not just surf.

For its DVD release of the science/new age documentary “What the Bleep Do We Know?!,” for example, Fox not only relied heavily on the Internet, but also promoted the DVD at chiropractic offices, health food stores and other alternative venues frequented by its target audience.

“TV is still the critical medium to deliver our messages,” adds Gordon Ho, exec VP of marketing and business development for Buena Vista Home Entertainment. “But in some cases, depending on the title, you may find the word of mouth or the Internet campaign is just as important. … More and more, it’s a two-way dialogue.”

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