Old Promo Strategies Work Best for Films

LOS ANGELES Even with 86 percent of moviegoers venturing online every day, most first learn of new films the old-fashioned way: TV commercials and in-theater trailers.

Those findings are courtesy of Stradella Road, a marketing company founded in February by Gordon Paddison, who was head of integrated and new media marketing at New Line, which was folded into Warner Bros. in April.

Stradella released its “Moviegoers: 2010” study Tuesday to 100 guests at a luncheon at the SLS Hotel. The study was sponsored by AOL, Facebook, Fandango, Google, Microsoft, MovieTickets.com and Yahoo.

The study indicates that 73 percent of moviegoers — those who attend movies at least twice a year — first gain awareness of releases from TV commercials, followed by 70 percent from in-theater trailers.

Word-of-mouth follows at 46 percent, and the Internet, at 44 percent, has passed such traditional methods as billboards and newspaper advertising.

That TV commercials remain such an effective way of spreading the word is good news for TV execs, especially given that 52 percent of moviegoers use DVRs. That’s roughly 20 percentage points higher than the general population.

A primary focus of the study, and of Paddison’s presentation, is that movie marketers need to know that digital word of mouth, especially among teenagers, is paramount.

Moviegoers are online 19.8 hours per week but watch only 14.3 hours of television, and 73 percent of them — of all ages — use social-networking sites.

Once they learn of a movie they’d like more information about, 93 percent go to the Internet, with 62 percent seeking an online film review.

Nevertheless, reviews from professional critics aren’t nearly as influential as is feedback from friends, family and, in some cases, online strangers. The study found that  75 percent of moviegoers trust the opinion of a friend more than that of a movie critic.

Also, 40 percent said that negative reviews from typical moviegoers would keep them from seeing a movie, while only 28 percent said a bad review from a critic would cause them to steer clear.

Film remains a social experience. Thus, 55 percent said that the desire of the “group” is a key factor in choosing a movie, just two percentage points less than a movie’s story line.

Stradella surveyed more than 3,850 moviegoers, asking them questions based on 30 hours of interviews with movie marketing execs. Nielsen NRG managed the research fieldwork.

“We wanted actionable insights about consumer behavior,” Paddison said. “We have the tendency to market a new film the same way as the one before and the one before that and before that and back to the Stone Age.”

Nielsen Business Media