Huge opportunity for movie channels, film distributors in the online, mobile space

MUMBAI: There will be 165 million interactive (Internet and mobile) users in India by 2007 in the 20-40 year age group. Now there are 25 million net users and 37 million mobile users. The time that they spend on the net is comparable to the time spent reading newspapers and watching TV. While Indian film companies and movie channels have a presence online they do not do advertising related film related ecommerce as they should.



Fifty five per cent of the online audience watches over one film a month in the theatre. Also most online surfers (70 per cent) prefer Hindi movies. Right now film marketers are under the incorrect impression that online users prefer English films (57 per cent). Seventy seven per cent of online users are aware of online ticketing.



Only 22 per cent have bought tickets online as the number of theatres selling tickets online is limited. However on ecommerce sites the percentage jumps to 33 per cent. Therefore there is a case for film companies to have a healthy presence on ecommerce sites. Forty six per cent want to buy tickets online but the opportunity is not there. Sixty three per cent who buy tickets online have a propensity to buy movie merchandise online. They buy audio and video CDs, posters.



Therefore film theatres and multiplexes would do well to invest in infrastructure as far as online ticketing is concerned. Right now this is restricted to Mumbai and Delhi. Forty five per cent want to watch films on the weekend, whereas 23 per cent say any day. As far as films on television are concerned 77 per cent watch Hindi films, 70 per cent watch English films and 26 per cent prefer regional films. On the other hand, 33 per cent watch at least one film in a week.

These figures are contained in a report by out by Internet & Online Association (IOA). The research was done to understand the media habits of mobile and Internet users. The first study is related to films in cinemas and on television. Later on the study will examine soaps, sports, sitcom viewing habits of mobile users and net surfers.

The base was 6200 with 51:49 Metro to Non Metro area skew. Speaking to this morning, IOA president Preeti Desai said, "Most of the consumers surveyed have been online for the past five years and 94 per cent of those surveyed were in the 18-45 year age group. Out of this, 58 per cent love to answer surveys and 30 per cent spend 20 hours a week online."

"For mobile movie marketing there is life beyond ringtones and wallpaper. Consumers want SMS short reviews as well as schedule of theatres on the mobile. There is also scope for television channels to send out SMS alerts half an hour before a movie is going to be aired. Net users prefer to subscribe to film based alerts. At the same time it is important to find out viewers likes and dislikes and not send out alerts blindly. Our report helps in the regard," she said.

"Having said that the alert facility on mobile for films whether on cinema or on television does not exist. There is therefore a big vacuum here. Twenty five per cent are favourable to games related to films. More importantly though is the fact that online 40 per cent check out reviews before seeing a film. So television movie channels and film distributors need to place reviews in portals that are frequently accessed," she informed.

Another marketing move could be to send the schedule through email along with reviews that could be short or long as per user preference. People want to read reviews not just by critics but also by their peers and friends. In the US there are cases of a review being pushed out of a blurb straight out of an advertisement. So the online medium in India needs to be exploited in a more dynamic manner.

Desai says that tongue twisting film URLs are difficult to remember. Therefore the URL should be advertised on television, newspapers. Online it needs to be registered on search engines. It should also be visible on film based portals and advertisements. Twenty eight per cent of net users reach film sites through film based portals. Advertising in the entertainment sections of portals is also useful.

Celebrity endorsement could be used for online, mobile film advertising: Online advertising needs to move beyond the pro bono realm. While online ads are generally free through deals they are not delivering much value. Desai says that what is unfortunately not happening is an Amitabh Bhachchan or a Shahrukh Khan jumping from an Internet ad. A Coke which advertises a film on air could also be associated with the online promotion. It delivers a more integrated value.

Online and on the mobile there could be a direct correlation between the celebrity, the brand that he endorses and the film that is going to be released in cinema halls or on television. A film star could record his voice telling people to see his/her film. Calls could be made to mobile subscribers who are fans of that star.

Desai states that there a lot of scope for this when a company like Coke has an actor as a brand ambassador and is also advertising on a channel like Max which is airing the brand ambassador's films.

Companies should look at whether they could take their celebrity package him/her at the time of the films release or airing and talk to the same set of consumers online. For a cricketer a Saurav Ganguly can say that he is a fan of a film genre like action that a company that he is the brand ambassador of is sponsoring on television.

"A lot of decisions are made on the spur of the moment. Trailers are also being watched online. Interestingly more than 50 per cent log on to the net at home. However logging on through GPRS, the office, a cyber café is also being done," Desai said.

"The report is aimed at helping film producers plan their marketing budgets for mobile and the Internet in conjunction with the traditional media." Desai points out that the Internet and mobile are media meant for involvement whereas television, print and radio are used by advertisers to create awareness.

The net and mobile facilitate P2P communication. The user dialogues with the product being advertised beyond 30 seconds. Therefore an incentive could be given to a mobile user of a free ticket if he SMSes information about the film to his/her friends. Recommendations on entertainment through the mobile are a huge marketing tool in the US.

Multiplexes would be interested to note that 34 per cent of online users surveyed spend over Rs 300 on a film. While there is no set pattern around 72 per cent of users book tickets in advance. Nine per cent of users want an online movie fan club. This does not exist in India. The percentage would go up once producers work at making this facility available Desai says.

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