As digital gets mainstream, it will become more important for a movie's success: Facebook

For smaller budget films, digital helps to find organic ways to build community and drive conversa


MUMBAI: An outstanding script, a big production house backing you or roping in lead actors don’t ensure a Bollywood movie’s success today. The aim is to crack the box office code. From the Rs 100 crore mark, the movies of today have set themselves targets of Rs 300 crore.

One of the most important driving factors for any movie to be a hit or miss is its PR. It’s crucial for any filmmaker to promote the movie extremely well on all major platforms and all consumer touch-points. Running the trailers and songs on television, having them as guests on reality or comedy shows, a chat show on radio, topped up with a dash of digital is the success mantra for any movie promotion.

Lately, every filmmaker and actor wants to promote the movie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. The “digital” consumer no longer has the time and bandwidth for the TV or newspaper. They need the information to be accessed if, when and how they want to. They want to know all about the movie, its box office report and reviews before spending Rs 300-400 on a movie ticket.

Social media lends itself beautifully to promote the movie, song or an album way before it is set to release. Actors nowadays share the making of their movies to engage the audience right from the start to ensure they are hooked on to the content and in turn will watch the movie. They go on to disclose the movie name, their first day of shooting, the shooting locations, the actor’s looks and outfits in the movie, and even behind the camera videos and images.

To understand the media effectiveness in film marketing and how it helps filmmakers and actors to drive awareness, engagement and conversions, Ormax Media and Facebook recently launched a report - Media Effectiveness in Hindi Film Marketing - that studies and correlates the actual box office collections to a movie’s marketing mix.

Indian movie marketers are already taking advantage of engaging desired audiences through Facebook, to drive uptake at the box office. For them, Facebook can help in building a community and interest, generate real-time conversation and feedback, and create a fan base even before the movie is released, which in-turn drives word of mouth and buzz.

At the report launch, Facebook India’s spokesperson engaged with us to talk at length about the report, the changing dynamics of film marketing, small budget films leveraging social media and much more. Excerpts:

The recent report by Ormax and Facebook shows how YouTube has more appeal power over Facebook and Instagram put together. How are you going to top up that to ensure Facebook has more engagement than Youtube?

A lot of users have their view on movies based on the trailers that they see. YouTube has had a legacy of video content whereas Facebook has just embarked on its journey to introduce video content to the users at a massive scale. We are aware of that as an organisation and are moving to ensure that quality music owners and labels are able to protect their content. Music is increasingly becoming important to Facebook users with trailers and music content. As we scale up, we expect the difference between Facebook and Youtube to change soon. Currently, music is the most talked about content on our platform.

How will the audience know about your offerings if they are not a part of the group or have liked the page?

Our partners know that there are users who are excited about our products. Given the base that we have and the growth that we have seen in India, user adoption is pretty quick for all the products that we launch because our partners know that they can create incremental reach and engagement. The whole narrative of entertainment marketing has shifted to storytelling and community. Today, movie marketing has social built at the core.

While we talk about the use and benefits of new media v/s traditional media, isn’t film marketing hugely impacted by the use of digital?

The traditional media does have a role and will continue to have a role. But we feel the overall importance and the function of each is changing. The biggest trend in India is that smartphone adoption has gone through the roof and we are seeing a lot of regional content and tier II, tier III users on the smartphone. As digital gets mainstream, it will become more important for a movie’s success, especially for movies that have large box office inhibitions. Digital is a mass phenomena. India is one of those few markets where television and print have a 10 year window, but digital allows movie studios to engage which is not possible on traditional mediums like television and print. While they may be used to build awareness, when brands want to engage they use digital. Smart movie marketers and actors have understood that and use digital to connect with their audiences.

There was a time when movie marketing began 20 days before the movie hit the theatres but now it starts months before the movie is set to release. In such cases, what is the ROI that the filmmakers look at?

The ultimate objective of a filmmaker is to ensure they have box office impact. From a consumer standpoint, when I make a choice to watch a movie in a theatre on Friday, I am also making a choice of not watching a show on Netflix, Amazon or a cricket game. It becomes important to engage with your consumers very early. Our job is to ensure the right product is used in the right context. Our platform IGTV is the future of video content which is a great mix of live content and video stories. Today, brand’s objectives have changed and the use of various mediums has changed.

What about sports? You don’t talk much about that…

Sports as a category is a huge priority for us and we will continue to invest in it. Although we can’t talk about it at the moment, we have huge plans for sports as a category to increase viewership.

While we talk about big studios and actors leveraging social media for marketing, are regional players also leveraging social media the way Bollywood is?

Oh yes, in a big way! Regional players are reflecting this trend as well and we see a lot of activity in Tamil, Telugu and Bengali movies.

What about small budget films? Are they leveraging social media?

We work closely with a variety of partners. We have an entire team working on the scale side that works with emerging creators and studios.  and they are smarter about it. The contribution of Facebook and Instagram for B category movies in driving conversion is 99 per cent.

Demographically, is your user the millennial audience since they are avid users of digital?

A large part of the audience on digital is millennial. Around 60-65 per cent of the digital user is male audience but we see a mix of age. Jio has created a wave in the market where access and affordability both have happened together. We are excited because we want to create a perfect storm in the entertainment industry. Today, there is a huge amount of content, great smartphone experiences created by apps, ease of data access and price. It is a great time for consumers.

While we talk about digital being the cherished medium for every marketer today, ad spends on television still contributes to 50-70 per cent while digital is only at 10-15. Do you see that changing?

Digital is growing today at a CAGR of 30 per cent. While TV does have a long window in India, so does print. However, video content will create a huge upside for digital in India. We know there are efforts being made across the board on digital ecosystem. If you look at the media ecosystem, especially in the buying agencies, programatic is seeing tremendous growth. Earlier, digital ad spends would be reserved inventory based, and now you have premium programmatic coming in. As display ads starts to become more programmatic driven, you will see digital coming into play. Quality inventory in India will drive digital ad spends.

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