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Original content outshines Web ads

HITS Digital Marketing Summit 2012

The movie biz is quickly shifting its digital marketing dollars away from sites like Yahoo! and Facebook — the rap on portal ads is that they just don’t work — with marketeers now focusing on creating original content they hope fans will pass around on social platforms.

While that’s bad news for the big-traffic websites, where a one-day homepage takeover can net as much as $500,000, it’s good news for the scores of upstart marketing and production companies that specialize in the creation of digital assets, like Gotham-based Thinkmodo, the agency responsible for the “flying people” campaign that exploded into a buzzy news event that boosted Fox’s sleeper hit “Chronicle.”

But as the trend takes hold and studios’ digital marketing teams get involved earlier in the process, on-the-set talent is being brought to bear. A prime example is the three viral videos created for Fox’s “Prometheus” campaign, well-received and widely discussed in the run-up to the R-rated sci-fier’s June release. They were conceived and directed by Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof, directed by Ridley’s son Luke and starred Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender.

“We’ve come a long way from ‘I’m going to put my trailer on Facebook! I’m doing digital!’,” says Sharon Ann Lee, cultural trend analyst and founder of think tank Culture Brain. “Instead of that, how about working with Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender? When you’re the studio doing that, it’s not even fair.”

Some digital marketing experts suggested to Variety they’ll ask the studio to cast actors with a large social-media footprint in order to leverage their large, vocal — and 100% cost-free — followings. “When we use social media most effectively,” says one studio’s digital marketing head, “we do it by tapping into the fan base without having to spend a dime.”

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