Tube ties up studio bucks

For all the brave talk about saving money by emphasizing low-cost digital media, online is still a long way from being able to take the lead in launching wide-release movies.

A common tactic is to use traditional media to drive audiences to online media, such as TV commercials or magazine ads offering a website address that directs viewers to an online movie trailer. It’s a case of “off-line” media driving moviegoer traffic to websites loaded with content designed go be seductive and immersive.

Still, film marketing campaigns spend anywhere from 5% to 20% of their budgets on digital media — mainly online — according to various sources. The actual percentage depends on whether or not the target audiences are big users of new media.

For a horror film aimed at the tech-savvy youth demographic, 10% to 20% of the movie’s marketing might be allocated to digital. However, a romantic comedy appealing to women 40-plus, who as a group aren’t known to be digital divas, will spend far less, perhaps 5%.

New media is slippery to quantify on a dollar basis, because film marketers treat it as three separate pieces:

• “Paid” media for purchased placements of display ads, promoted Tweets and Web pages that get peppered with movie messages;

• “Earned” media, such as publicity with film trailers placed free as editorial, and social media messages that are not paid; and

• “Owned” media, which utilizes pre-existing audience connections such as studio-assembled email mailing lists, Facebook friends and Twitter followers.

“The landscape has shifted in the past three years to a broader digital marketing strategy,” says Gordon Paddison, CEO of Stradella Road, a Los Angeles-based marketing consultancy. “Paid media budgets compete with social initiatives, apps and organic search that drive more consumer engagement.”

Official film websites have diminished in importance. The 1999 sensation caused by the mysterious episodic footage of “The Blair Witch Project” has never been duplicated, and these days film marketers opt to place their juiciest movie content on third-party platforms that already have big Web traffic.

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