If You See a Digital Ad for This Movie, You Can Probably Thank Your Bank

How Southpaw marketers are using purchase data

Hollywood marketers are getting savvier about digital advertising. To promote the upcoming drama Southpaw, The Weinstein Company is running a data-heavy campaign that pinpoints folks who go to movies at least once a month.

The film studio and its media agency, Palisades MediaGroup, are working with data platform Cardlytics to dig into more than $1.5 trillion in debit and credit-card transactions from over 500 banks to find only the people who frequently buy tickets at movie theaters.

The anonymous data is then pulled into software Palisades MediaGroup uses to serve up video and mobile ads for the film's trailer on sites like Today.com, AOL.com and FoodNetwork.com. To adhere to privacy standards, the banks only use data from customers who have opted in to a rewards program.

"We know if a user has swiped their debit or credit card at an AMC theater, for example, and bought tickets in the past three [or] six months," said Arlo Laitin, svp of media partnerships at Cardlytics.

The campaign runs through July 18, just before the film opens. The idea is to home in on the small number of people who routinely go to theaters, because they are more likely than average consumers to see a serious drama like Southpaw.

A 2014 report from the Motion Picture Association of America found that 11 percent of people who go to theaters are considered frequent moviegoers—meaning they see at least one film a month—and they account for 51 percent of all ticket sales.

Meanwhile, sales in the U.S. and Canada totaled $10.4 billion, down 5 percent from $10.9 billion in 2013.

"Studios have spent a lot of time guessing about who their right audience is through demographics [and] behavioral targeting through social media," Laitin said. "What we're starting to do is take the guesswork out."