Old marketing strategies still the best

Moviegoers still find out about films from commercials

BEVERLY HILLS -- Even with 86% of moviegoers going online every day, most first learn of a new movie 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% of moviegoers -- those who attend movies at least twice a year -- first gain awareness of releases from TV commercials, followed by 70% from in-theater trailers.

Word-of-mouth follows at 46%, and the Internet, at 44%, 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% 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% of them -- of all ages -- use social-networking sites.

Once they learn of a movie they'd like more information about, 93% go to the Internet, with 62% 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 says 75% of moviegoers trust the opinion of a friend more than that of a movie critic

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

Film remains a social experience. Thus, 55% say that the desires of the "group" is a key factor in choosing a movie, just two percentage 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."