Hollywood is learning what those in the market research world have known for years: follow the data. For years, film studios have had only a vague understanding of who’s buying tickets to their films. As mobile becomes more popular, however, the entertainment business is using the technology to capture what was lost in the relationship between the studios and the consumer, and convert that data into meaningful insight into what works and what doesn’t.
While advertising “The Greatest Showman”, a musical about the P.T. Barnum’s efforts to build a circus show featuring bearded ladies, dwarfs, and the like, Fox executives thought it would be a shoo-in with the same audience who loved “La La Land” and “Les Miserables”. When they looked at the data, however, they found that 75% of the people who viewed the trailer online bought tickets to “Beauty and the Beast”, “Pitch Perfect”, and “Cinderella”. After further analysis, they realized all of those films featured characters who were shunned by society, and ultimately found themselves embraced by certain communities. With this information, they altered their advertising campaigns and pressed the message of inclusion.
Previously, the data segmentation the movie industry used was very high-level: gender, age, income. Now, by using the digital breadcrumbs we leave online, they are able to create profiles that more accurately represent the modern audience. Richard Maraschi, global leader of advanced analytics at IBM, is helping studios leverage the feedback consumers put online to make better creative and marketing decisions. “Now we can get down to micro-segments,” says Maraschi, “like soccer moms in Florida that are really passionate about action films. You can start to get higher fidelity on understanding the audience. You need predictive analytics tools to do that stuff.”
77% of Americans have smartphones, and Fandango is working to make its app more smartphone-friendly in hopes of gathering more data from its users. It launched a Fandango functionality into Apple iMessage and Facebook Messenger, because it believes that’s how younger consumers are communicating with friends. Atom Tickets, a mobile ticketing app, is taking notes from Netflix and Amazon and deploying algorithms to suggest movies that are similar to ones the customers previously enjoyed.
Data analytics has opened a number of new avenues that the entertainment industry can use to analyze past data, make creative marketing decisions, and predict the turnout for upcoming movie releases.
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