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Study: Digital ads top TV in studio mix

December 13, 2018

Global information services provider Neustar has revealed the findings of a media effectiveness evaluation that analysed advertising channels for 70 US movies, representing a majority of wide-release box office sales.

The analysis covered eight different marketing channels – TV, online, display, online video, paid Facebook advertising, out of home advertising (OOH), radio, print and paid search – representing $1.8 billion in total marketing spend.

On average, movie studios spend $27.4 million to market their releases. The study, Do Movie Marketing Budgets Need a Digital Reboot?, showed that while TV remains a powerful megaphone, with 82 per cent of the budget dedicated to the channel, it was only responsible for 42 per cent of media-driven box office revenue. Digital media, on the other hand, was responsible for nearly half (46 per cent) of media-driven box office revenue, but only 14 per cent of marketing budgets. This makes digital media—with four per cent more sales than TV at just a third of the cost—the most efficient medium in the studio marketing mix.

Taking a closer look at digital media, the most efficient was paid Facebook media. On average, paid Facebook media comprised four per cent of the movie media budget but delivered an average of nine per cent of opening box office revenue and 20 per cent of marketing-driven sales. In addition, for every dollar a studio spent on Facebook, it earned close to eight dollars back or a $7.91 return on ad spend (ROAS). This means paid Facebook media was an astonishing ten times more efficient than TV ads at driving studio marketing ROAS.

Further findings showed that Facebook paid media impacted earned engagements online. For example, Facebook paid media drove six per cent of film-specific Google search activity and 50 per cent of viral film impressions. In other words, Facebook users who were exposed to studio ads on Facebook’s platform were also more likely to share those ads with their friends and navigated to Google to learn more about the film.

Another highlight of the study found that Facebook viral impression volume (VIV) – the number of movie posts that have been liked, commented upon or shared by Facebook users’ friends – appeared to strongly impact box office performance. For example, a 25 per cent increase in VIV corresponded to a six per cent increase in box office revenue. Even though VIV may be one signal of future box office success, the fact that virality is unplanned – and therefore not causal – marketers should use this finding as a directional planning metric rather than a primary KPI.

In summary, while television was the biggest driver of ticket sales, it was by no measure the most efficient. Instead, this study revealed that digital outlets were significantly more efficient at driving box office revenue than any offline media – including TV. Movie marketers should consider shifting a portion of their TV dollars into digital media in order to capitalise on the significantly higher efficiency of digital media.

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