VC panel hones in on ‘precision marketing’

Individual consumer-level marketing is already upending studios' strategies

The potential of “precision marketing,” the ability to use social media and other new platforms to tailor campaigns at the individual-consumer level, is already upending studios’ traditional marketing strategies, according to panelists Friday at “Hollywood’s Hunt for the Next Big Thing: How Start-Up Innovation is Transforming the Entertainment Business.”

Panel was part of Variety’s all-day Venture Capital and New Media Summit, taking place at the Beverly Hilton.

“I think we’re moving from a world where people went to the movies — but it was kind of anonymous — to a world where people have identity,” said Steve Polsky, SVP of Flixster. As a result, he said, “you can really fine tune marketing.”

“Hunt” panelists included Mitch Singer, chief technology officer at Sony; James Min, managing director at Montgomery and Company; Matt Jacobson, head of market development at Facebook; Michelle Martell, COO at Cinedigm Entertainment Group; and Randall Cox, president of RogueLife, Relativity Media.

The group largely discussed how Hollywood is adapting to consumers’ desire to consume product across an array of platforms, and emphasized how important it is to direct-market to individual viewers.

“It’s about personalization,” said Singer. “When you know that someone enjoys your brand, it’s about getting to them in a way that’s more meaningful.”

Singer said that one example would be selling a movie ticket through the UltraViolet service so that studios could stream 20 or 30 minutes of extra film content to that viewer when they got home.

“Those are the kinds of things you can do when you start to personalize the experience of consumers,” Singer said

Martell pointed to “Day in the Life,” the National Geographic-acquired film which started as a YouTube video compiled from user-submitted video, as an example that consumers can — and often will — shape the type of content they want to see.

“Really what we’re seeing is the democratization of content … so even on the theatrical level, audiences being able to raise their hands and say ‘I want this content to come to a theater to me,'” said Martell, who said social media helped with something she called “precision marketing network(s),” a more direct way of targeting individual consumers.

“I think a lot of the traditional marketing strategies of the studios are getting turned on their head,” echoed Cox.

Summit, which included panelists from across Hollywood and Silicon Valley, aimed to address how the investment community drives technological innovation affecting the entertainment industry.