How the Studio Behind Miss Sloane Is Tracking the Link Between Ads and Ticket Sales

With help from Alphonso and Tremor Video

Miss Sloane tells the story of a high-power Washington, D.C., lobbyist (played by Jessica Chastain) who's asked to work on behalf of the gun lobby. Citing moral considerations, she refuses and instead takes on a project to work against the gun industry and its interests, skirting the law and risking her career to do so.

It's an adult-skewing drama that's not a comic-book adaptation or franchise sequel/spinoff, but does feature what's said to be a powerhouse performance from Chastain in a story that's absolutely relevant given our current social climate.

Because it doesn't come with the built-in name recognition of something like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Star Wars, EuropaCorp, the studio behind the movie, made Chastain the central focus of the campaign and sold the movie as a pulse-pounding thriller. The poster positioned Sloane hovering over the nation's capital like a benevolent god, and the trailers and TV spots sold the character as being in control and fearless, even in the face of one of the country's most powerful advocacy groups.

But how did those ads and that campaign actually activate the audience?

For that answer, EuropaCorp and media agency Carat turned to automatic content recognition (ACR) company Alphonso and advertising transaction platform Tremor Video. The solution, created by the exclusive partnership provided by those companies, has allowed EuropaCorp to get a much clearer idea of how its ads for Miss Sloane have performed and, most important, how many people who were exposed to those ads actually turned into ticket buyers.

According to Abbey Thomas, Tremor Video's head of entertainment and auto, the partnership with Alphonso came about after Tremor was looking for an ACR company with which to work and was impressed with Alphonso's cross-device system.

Here's how it works: EuropaCorp provided Alphonso with a set number of audio or video clips from the Miss Sloane campaign, scenes that appear in the trailers and TV spots. It added those clips to a database, and when someone watches those promos, their devices pick up the audio and match it against the index, signaling that they're watching X clip on Y network.

That data is then turned over to Tremor's media-buying system, which associates the customer profile that's been created with additional profile information, creating a more well-rounded picture of the individual. Finally, if or when the individual goes to the theater, the loop is closed and he or she is counted as a sale or conversion. That's largely done through additional clips that have been provided to Alphonso that weren't included in the marketing campaign and matching captured audio from the user device to those previously unseen clips.

The data that's captured not only provides useful insights into how that campaign—in this case, the push for Miss Sloane—worked to turn out an audience, but also provides information that can be used in future campaigns. So the next time EuropaCorp has a dramatic legal thriller or female-starring drama to sell, it has a pool of user data it can use to target and retarget ads to sell that future movie.

It's not hard to see how this is attractive to studios. It brings significant accountability, similar to what's seen with online advertising, to the world of TV advertising. Studios can build a much clearer picture of who it is that's seeing their movies and what helped convince them to do so. They can know that I was exposed to three TV commercials and a trailer and then eventually bought a ticket a month later. Or that I didn't.

And the system expands to include the home release window, so they can know that I maybe didn't go to the theater but did rent it from a VOD or SVOD provider and assign the appropriate value to that transaction.

There's plenty of potential for other sorts of entertainment content as well, including TV shows, video games, music and more. Basically anything that has an audio clip that can be added to the index, and for which unique identifying material can be used, can be tracked.

The ad-buying industry is all about accountability. Advertising dollars are increasingly being asked to lead to conversions as companies look at ways to track how mobile ads lead to in-store sales and more, all powered by technology that's creating ever-more-complex profiles of an individual consumer.

That's been sorely lacking from the movie marketing world, but the partnership between EuropaCorp, Tremor Video and Alphonso is a step to fill that gap.