How Twitter Autoplay Ads Are Giving Goosebumps a Big Lift in Online Buzz

Interactive clips get results

Autoplay video advertising is becoming increasingly commonplace, though Twitter's offering to marketers is still only a couple months old

Sony has been running Twitter autoplay ads for the fall release of its animated horror-comedy movie Goosebumps, which stars Jack Black and a creepy puppet-villain named Slappy. The media giant is the first brand to run a global "unlock" campaign with the videos, encouraging consumers to engage with the ads before they're able to see the horror flick's trailer. Sony's marketing team also delivered customized video responses from Slappy to anyone tweeting the hashtag #UnlockGoosebumps.

Adweek chatted with Elias Plishner, evp of digital marketing at Sony Pictures Entertainment, to get his take on the interactive spots. For instance, how do they perform when compared to regular online videos—or auto-initiated clips, as Plishner calls them? 

Check out the conversation below:

Adweek: Please explain how this Twitter video initiative did, ROI-wise, when compared to other digital efforts from your brand?
Elias Plishner: The Twitter video program on Goosebumps performed very well when looking at other digital efforts from our campaign to date. One of the key metrics we look at when it comes to online video and social media is the "earned media" value of our efforts. We put a dollar value to this to determine if the ends justifies the means. In this case, we saw a 3X [threefold] lift in earned media as a result of using Twitter's autoplay video, which is a great result.

Did this initiative encourage your team to allocate more spend on Twitter video going forward?
Yes, we are already considering other initiatives using Twitter video on future campaigns.

Is autoplay a better branding feature than regular video? 
We discuss autoplay versus auto-initiated online video quite a bit as a digital marketing team, and honestly, there are pros and cons for each. Ultimately, for us, it comes down to the specific initiative and the results we are hoping to achieve. In this case, autoplay video was highly recommended because it guaranteed at least a portion of the video would be viewed. As a marketer, with that in mind, we'll employ tactics to make sure as many crucial elements are included in those few precious seconds to make sure viewers have enough if they choose to continue to engage further. In the end, you have to spend the time and think through the customer experience, or else you're not going to do your campaign justice.

What was the most important thing that this Goosebumps promo accomplished via Twitter?
One of our goals with the first Goosebumps trailer was to turn book fans into brand ambassadors of the film. The movie's high concept allowed us to create a natural extension on Twitter to have fans "unlock" the trailer through social media and then, most importantly, give us a tool to interact with them in real time. We used one of the beloved characters from the film and the book series, Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy, to record video greetings to fans on Twitter, taunting them to unlock the trailer. Then, after it launched, he followed up with personalized custom greetings to select fans who had opted in to keep the conversation going well beyond the trailer launch.

What demos did you target on the effort?
The primary target for this campaign was Goosebumps fans of all ages. I mentioned before that we really wanted to have existing fans be heavily involved in the initial trailer launch, and I'm happy to say that the results speak for themselves. The amount of buzz—comments shared online—was almost double our norms for this type of film, and nearly 50 percent of the buzz in the first 24 hours came from existing Goosebumps fans. 

What else was important, strategy-wise?
Besides using Twitter's video tool in a very personalized way, an important strategy tactic is what you do to keep conversation going. Generally speaking, most of the online conversation coming from a movie's trailer launch happens within the first 24 to 48 hours, and it's incredibly difficult to sustain that kind of momentum in the days to follow. The idea behind sending personalized video recordings direct to Twitter users who participated in the trailer launch was to keep the conversation going as long as possible. In addition to our first-day numbers, our first-week numbers well exceed our internal benchmarks in terms of trailer views and discussion volume.