With major releases queued up every weekend through year’s end, it’s more important than ever for marketers to find innovative ways to create online and social media buzz even as the digital marketing landscape shifts.

“The best digital strategies take a multi-platform approach and use a variety of tools,” says Matt Thomas, director of business development at GetGlue and a Trendsetters in Digital Marketing panelist at Variety’s Future of Film Summit.

He cites “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” as a great example of a successful digital campaign, which set the all-time check-in record on GetGlue last summer with more than 170,000 check-ins.

“Our partnership with Warner Bros. helped pre-promote the film by rewarding fans with a countdown of stickers leading up to the premiere, which helped drive pre-release buzz and awareness around the film,” says Thomas, who predicts similar digital marketing success for the highly anticipated Nov. 18 release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part I.”

One trend is clear: your friends are the new taste arbiters when it comes to decision-making at the box office.

“I think the best way to reach viewers today is through other viewers,” says Matthew Thomson, VP of platform at Klout, another speaker at the Future of Film Summit. “Social media simply gives consumers a way to electronically proliferate word of mouth and companies a way to measure word-of-mouth.”

He singled out Klout Perk’s promotion of 2010’s “Tangled,” which used advance screenings and swag and through 412 influencers resulted in more then 15,000 tweets, 1,400 Facebook “likes” and comments and ultimately, nearly 40 million impressions.

Thomas says digital film marketing should include authentic, branded content, which can come in the form of video from the studios via YouTube, advance trailers that people share or exclusive content like stickers on GetGlue or badges on other check-in sites.

Next on the horizon is mobile GPS, which enables movie marketers to send ultra-targeted messaging.

“We’re seeing 25% of general movie/film searches take place on mobile devices, compared to 15% a year ago,” says Adam Stewart, Google’s industry director, media and entertainment and a panelist at the Film Summit. “Given mobile device capabilities to utilize location, studio marketers are beginning to employ direct marketing tactics in selling tickets to potential moviegoers.”


A selection of some of the panels and speakers at today’s Future of Film Summit.

9:45 a.m.
Keynote Q&A with Ryan Kavanaugh

10:15-11 a.m.
Panel: State of the film industry

Studio and production toppers discuss such questions as what constitutes a hit today? Is tentpole and franchise development the main goal at studios? What is the future of small-to-medium budgeted projects? They also dig into the trends of 2011, and the impact of emerging economies on foreign box office.

11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Panel: What is the outlook for film finance — who are the latest key players and partners?
Producers and financiers probe questions about finding coin for films both domestically and internationally, as well as strategies for finacing pics.

12:15-12:45 p.m.
Keynote Q&A with Alcon Entertainment co-founder and co-CEO Andrew Kosove and co-founder and co-CEO Broderick Johnson

2:30-3:50 p.m.
Panels: The digital explosion: navigating the best of alternative film delivery and marketing models
Two sessions devoted to digital distribution and business models, social networking and using the Internet to build buzz and grab auds.

4:50-5:30 p.m.
Panel: Why do women matter in Hollywood?: Their influence behind the camera, in front of the camera, and in the audience

From “Bridesmaids” to “The Help,” in 2011 women have been driving hits at the box office. Panelists discuss how women are creating, making and selling projects that not only appeal to femmes but men as well.

5:30-6:15 p.m.
Variety’s Producers to Watch session

Movie mavens see healthy signs for industry