A Chicago-based data analytics firm that has been working closely with the entertainment industry has announced the release of a new online platform to help movie distributors better track and target movie audiences.
Networked Insights said it has already signed on Universal Studios and two other major Hollywood companies for its Kairos-MovieSense service. It hopes to land contracts with other studios. Despite the data awash across the Internet, the studios have complained that they have not been able to glean information that helps them precisely calibrate their ad campaigns.
Networked Insights formed a decade ago under Dan Neely, a British-born, University of Georgia-trained math whiz, who was part of the founding team that had previously started the online insurance outfit Esurance, now a unit of Allstate.
Neely’s company analyzes the vast trove of data from the social Web — comments on articles, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and more — to track audience sentiment. The platform has built a database plumbing audience reaction to films dating back to 2012 and for all major releases going forward. Studio marketing executives can use the platform to learn how consumers reacted to similar films and campaigns in the past and how they are responding, in real time, to an ongoing ad blitz.
The company says that its system allows marketing leaders to focus, in granular detail, on “gettables” – consumers who are more likely to see a movie on any given weekend than the general public. The information homes in on potential customers beginning 29 weeks prior to an opening weekend, the period when initial trailers typically land on television and online.
“That totally changes studios’ ability to find actionable insights and see opportunities to adjust their marketing to gain more efficiencies and, in the end, see greater returns opening weekend,” said Neely. Studios can reject messages that are not working, reup those that are and target specific segments, via new platforms, particularly on the Web.
The company said its contracts to provide the platform will cost studios in the seven-figures per year. Initial users appear to be finding an investment worthwhile. Seth Byers, executive VP of creative strategy and research at Universal Studios, said the company and its Kairos-MovieSense platform “bring to the table new signals based on real-time data gathering that reflect what people are saying and doing online right now.” Byers added: “Right after our first trailer drops, we can see how our ad materials and media buys are resonating, with whom, why and how it impacts movie-going interest.”
Neely said he thought his company’s product had achieved traction in Hollywood because he engaged film executives from the start over what kind of information they were lacking. In a meeting arranged three years ago by the Ziffren Brittenham law firm, Neely and his Networked Insights team met with the leaders of most of the Hollywood studios. The company had already been working on building its platform for more than five years before that, and had signed on hundreds of non-entertainment brands, including Under Armour and Coca-Cola, Neely said.
The company’s experts broke down user statements from online and social media. It learned that many statements about movies were not direct but implicit, requiring a sophisticated analysis of all the Web chatter. The software can now turn those sometimes oblique statements into reliable measures along two axis — one of viewers’ awareness of individual films and the other of their intent to see them.
Looking at recent MovieSense data, that appears to spell good news for Disney’s April 15 release “The Jungle Book,” which ranks in the top 25% of releases in both awareness and viewer intent. Its awareness level is at a higher point than 2014’s “Maleficent” was five weeks out from its premiere. And that “Sleeping Beauty” adaptation did very well — going on to make $759 million at the worldwide box office.
In contrast, signs were bleak for “Zoolander 2” weeks before its February release, with the film in the top 25% in awareness, but with its ads leaving viewers cold. By five weeks out from opening night, interest in seeing the Ben Stiller-led sequel was plummeting, Kairos-MovieSense found.