With chatbots in the game, film marketing takes a turn for the good

Image: Fox Star Studios
In March this year, Fox Star Studios used a chatbot on Facebook’s messenger platform to promote its summer release Baaghi 2. The bot not only pushed teasers, trailers and clips from the film, but also engaged with viewers using trivia and quizzes. The bot also helped convert interest in the movie into actual ticket sales by providing a link to a ticket booking platform.

Baaghi 2 set the stage for a new kind of movie marketing. It was first film in India to see a bot promoting it. And chances are that more will follow suit.

Facebook is putting serious thought and might to make its platform more lucrative for movie marketers and chatbots are one of its key focus areas. For studios, chatbots are an efficient and customisable promotional tool, which is value for money, hence the interest. 

“With digital as the mainstay of our movie campaigns, we have the opportunity to mine user behaviour through sound analytics and bots. This medium enables us to get one single view of the movie-going audience by tracking their journey from their first engagement with a film asset to the purchase of tickets,” says Shikha Kapur, chief marketing officer, Fox Star Studios.

While movie marketing over the years has undergone a massive shift with the advent of the internet and digital media driving accessibility for masses, never before have the prospects been so bright for studios, say experts. Social media has become key for viewers to discover content online  and the film industry is increasingly leveraging it to engage  with their audiences quickly. According to a new report released by Facebook and research firm Ormax Media, it is now possible to find a correlation between the media effort behind movie marketing and the impact on first-day box office collections. 

“This is a unique, one-of-its-kind study, developed exclusively for the Indian market, which correlates the actual box office collection to a movie’s marketing mix. The research went beyond just media metrics such as impressions and readership as a barometer for a film’s marketing success, focusing on awareness, buzz and intent to watch,” says Gautam Jain, partner, Ormax Media. 

The study, he says, has  a base of over 25,000 movie goers surveyed across several cities, demographics and strata in a six-month effort, evaluating performance of nine media vehicles, basis the impact it created. 

Findings suggest that Facebook is one of the top two media vehicles in driving a movie’s buzz and appeal. What works for Facebook are link shares and conversations, apart from initiatives such as Facebook Live. But, the study says, Facebook and Instagram together deliver the highest impact, with 21 per cent contribution to a movie’s first-day box office collections.

Multiple options

The report suggests that while new-age tools can amplify a film’s presence signfiicantly, there is a still a lot more that movie marketers can do.

A combination of Facebook, Instagram and Youtube, for instance, says the study can go a long way in helping a film get eyeballs in its first week of release. Combine this will mass-media such as television, radio and outdoor and the results can be even better, it says.

Saurabh Doshi, head, entertainment partnerships, Asia-Pacific, Facebook, says, “Facebook is a great place for fans to directly connect with their favourite stars and movies. It can drive reach and engagement well. We aim to become the go-to destination for celebrities and movie marketers to promote and connect with their followers in an authentic way and experience the power of organic content and first-hand interactions.”

It is now common to see studios releasing the first look and teaser of their new releases on Facebook along with celebrities. Sometimes, studios and celebrities can be seen promoting their films on Instagram via stories or posts. A scroll through actor Akshay Kumar’s Instagram feed shows numerous posts and stories promoting his latest release Gold (August 2018). Actor Sonakshi Sinha, on the other hand, posts stories from her shoots and events to drive home the message of an upcoming release. In both cases, the film in question gets much-needed attention.

“While studios use Facebook for mass applications – trailers and promos mainly, Instagram is used for engagement. So, while on Facebook the goal is reach, on Instagram, the goal is to engage with the target audience through relevant content and posts. Celebrities are more active when it comes to movie promotions on Instagram. On Facebook, it is the studios, who mostly call the shots,” says a Facebook spokesperson.

The study also measures the buzz and appeal of different media when it comes to movie marketing. Ormax defines buzz power as the ability of a medium to make unaware audiences aware of a film. Here again, the combination of Facebook and Instagram comes out at the top (69 per cent), followed by Facebook alone (at 67 per cent) and YouTube (51 per cent). Instagram alone has a buzz power of 15 per cent, much less than television (43 per cent). 

As far as appeal of a medium goes, Youtube tops the list at 15 per cent, followed by Facebook at 12 per cent.

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