Social media hidden hero of the box office

By: | Published: August 19, 2018 3:24 AM

Increasing digital and smartphone penetration, coupled with enthusiastic consumption of online video content, is spurring the movie marketing shift to digital.

Digital media, Facebook, Instagram, youtube, movie marketingFacebook and Instagram have a cumulative contribution of 21% in impacting the first day box office sales of Bollywood films.

Digital media is playing the leading role in Indian films. Just like promoting other brands, film marketing, be it regional or Hindi, is also being led by digital platforms, figures reveal. A recent report by Ormax Media, Media Effectiveness in Hindi Film Marketing, says when it comes to film marketing, Facebook and Instagram have a cumulative contribution of 21% in impacting the first day box office sales of Bollywood films.

YouTube follows closely with 18%, followed by TV promos at 13%. A GroupM report dating December 2017 revealed that regional films are increasingly finding favour with brands that are looking for co-branded associations. In 2017, almost 15% of films released in south India and almost 16% Marathi films had brand associations. Movie marketing that goes beyond metros and tier 1 cities has become increasingly important, and the digital medium only aids that. Vinit Karnik, business head, GroupM ESP, points out that while movie marketing spends on TV still remain high, given that it is an expensive medium, digital now commands 20-25% of paid movie marketing budgets.

In addition, owned digital assets of the cast and crew, production house and influencers play a significant role. Digital has become the first port of call for movie marketing, whether it is a first look launch, announcement of star cast or a trailer launch. Karnik adds, “Instead of five or six TV promos like in the old days, it is now about doing, say, 15 or more content pieces that act as promotion tools and stay relevant across the demographics. Film promotion durations now run between four and six weeks or less. Marketing activities peak about 10 days before a film’s release.”

Increasing digital and smartphone penetration, coupled with enthusiastic consumption of online video content, is spurring the movie marketing shift to digital. Promotions on digital make even more sense for regional films that may have smaller marketing budgets and are looking for maximum return on investment from their spends. Shailesh Kapoor, founder, Ormax Media, shares that contrary to popular belief that digital media has higher influence in bigger cities, research indicates that the impact of digital media (Facebook, YouTube and Instagram) is equally strong across the three market clusters studied — metros, mini-metros and small towns — amongst theatre-going audiences.

“Box office impact of digital media in small towns stands at just 4% lower than in metros, indicating how digital marketing for films has permeated to all geographical clusters in India,” he adds. While star cast announcements, poster releases or teasers do generate interest, a trailer launch is the litmus test, and an increasing amount of effort is being put into getting the best possible trailer out. There is a realisation that if one doesn’t get the first trailer right, the rest of the marketing efforts may not end up being as effective as estimated, Kapoor notes.

While a digital platform offers accurate targeting, the most important benefit is in identifying and reaching out to audiences that are most likely to watch your film, given their stated preferences of actors and films they like. Trade analyst Nitin Tej Ahuja, publisher, Box Office India, explains, “Social media makes it possible to aggregate and reach out to communities that would otherwise be very expensive using traditional media. For example, a Marathi film producer trying to promote a film to Marathi-speaking migrants in Bangalore, or a Tamil film producer trying to communicate with the Tamil community in Mumbai.”

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