Twitter, looking to earn more marketing coin from Hollywood studios, has launched a new program that can target ads to the social site’s users who are chatting about films.
Advertisers already can buy sponsored tweets based on users’ keywords, but the movie-specific capability will — theoretically — let studio marketers even more accurately get promos in front of movie fans. The program is similar to Twitter’s conversation-targeting feature for TV shows, launched last fall.
The movie ad-targeting product is currently in a “closed beta” test, and Twitter is likely to have the product generally available by the middle of Q4, according to spokesman Will Stickney. He declined to identify which studios are currently testing the program.
In addition to serving ads to Twitter users who have mentioned a specific title, the new capability can also target sponsored tweets based on specific genres — like horror or comedy — or even to those with a general affinity for movies.
“This is definitely the next evolution. Advertising has to get more efficient,” said Mary Daily, chief marketing officer for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. With better-targeted ads on Twitter, “you don’t want to interrupt the conversation, but you have the opportunity to put something relevant in front of someone.”
Twitter has data to make its case to studios: According to a Nielsen study this summer, 87% of Twitter users said their most recent decision to see a film in the theater was influenced by tweets.
“We’ve repeatedly heard from studios that having the ability to reach a specific movie audience that is already engaging with movies — or genres of movies — on Twitter would be really valuable,” said Jen Prince, Twitter’s director of entertainment. “We take that feedback seriously and are excited to be working on a feature that addresses those needs.”
Studios have already experimented with novel ways to reach movie audiences on Twitter. For example, Universal Studios this summer ran a campaign on Twitter that popped up the trailer for Seth MacFarlane’s “A Million Ways to Die in the West” for users who typed in one of the movie’s hashtags.
In addition, Twentieth Century Fox staged a “Twitter party” on Sept. 20 to promote the homevideo release of “The Fault in Our Stars,” in which John Green — who wrote the best-selling novel the movie is based on — live-tweeted commentary as he (and many of his 3.1 million Twitter followers) watched it in real-time.
Meanwhile, Twitter recently began testing a “Buy” button that lets users purchase things directly from a tweet — potentially providing a new mechanism for selling movie tickets, or homevideo titles. Comcast’s Fandango earlier this year launched a program to sell movie tickets via Twitter in movie-related tweets, although to purchase them users must visit a separate site.
Twitter has certified two social-media research firms, Fizziology and Networked Insights, which will be able to offer the movie-targeted ads to their clients. “Our movie solution will assist studios to maximize the unique power Twitter provides to more precisely understand, engage and activate the optimal audiences for each movie throughout a movie’s journey to opening weekend,” Howard Ballon, g.m. of media and entertainment at Networked Insights, said in announcing the pact.
According to Twitter, users have posted 55 million tweets about major movies so far in 2014:
— Twitter Movies (@TwitterMovies) September 24, 2014