Among other things, Paddison worked on the campaign for The Lord of the Rings trilogy, establishing a link with Peter Jackson’s Wingnut Films which led in February 2009 to the signing of a multi-year deal to deliver digital brand strategy on all Wingnut entertainment products.The study looks at the influence the Internet has over film audiences, a subject of obvious interest to Stradella Road in its efforts to build a client base. As Paddison noted at the time the deal was struck with Wingnut Films, ‘Social media has revolutionized the way consumers connect with each other and include brands in their life and Stradella Road is the place for clients looking to leverage and evolve with the medium.’ Anything that demonstrates the growing influence of new media is obvious grist to the mill.
That’s not meant in any way to undermine the research; but awareness of who’s behind the study, and whose interests are being served by its propagation, is instructive. Thus you may like to know the study was sponsored by AOL, Facebook, Fandango, Google, Microsoft, MovieTickets.com and Yahoo.
Anyway, the research, appearing in a report entitled ‘Moviegoers 2010’, was conducted by Nielsen NRG and involved a survey of 1,547 moderate-to-heavy moviegoers over an eight day period in July 2009, plus phone and online interviews with 2,305 others during the same month. Methodological details are sketchy, and as I haven’t seen a copy of the report I can’t offer any further background on the questions posed, the survey format or the sample.
Nonetheless, thanks to online sources not (yet) buried behind paywalls, we can glean details of the principal findings. For Marc Graser, writing in Variety, the study’s main message is that ‘if marketing mavens want to reach younger moviegoers when promoting their films, they need to embrace social networks or risk being ignored.’
Teens and ‘twentysomethings’, the demographic that so preoccupies studio executives, are, according to the research, ‘especially focused on being able to customize entertainment and are quick to share their opinions with others digitally’.
Graser reports the study’s estimate that 94% of all US moviegoers are now online, and 71% of moviegoers surveyed have profiles on social networking sites. But in broad brush terms, as the study shows and common sense dictates, use and influence are highly dependent on age:
- Those aged 13-17 are ‘all about sharing information and group thinking’, and social media are crucial to this (67% socialise with friends online).
- Those aged 18-29 ‘are digital natives that have grown up with technology’ who search online for movie information and share their thoughts via social networks (58% socialise with friends online).
- Those in their 30s are ‘time-constrained, with parenthood dominating their decisions’. They ‘spend the highest number of hours online and rep[ort] the highest use of technology (Internet, broadband access, DVR ownership and cell phone).’
- Meanwhile those in their 40s tend to favour traditional media ‘like magazines and newspapers’, and moviegoing is ‘dominated by special family occasions and influenced by teens’. Those in their 50s ‘avoid crowds, prefer matinees’ and ‘skip ads because they think there are too many commercials on TV.’
Bond notes the fact 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.’
But it’s the evolving nature of online behaviour that primarily interests Stradella Road. According to Bond, the study shows that ‘once they learn of a movie they'd like more information about, 93% go to the Internet, with 62% seeking an online film review.’ (I'm not clear which group we're talking about here- the figure seems too high for all ages).
Yet it’s not so much the Internet that influences audiences- the crucial role is played by those members of the peer group who choose to share their opinions online: 40% of respondents said ‘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.’ (And as a further snub to professional critics, Marc Graser reports the finding that 84% of moviegoers say ‘When they make up their mind to see a movie, it doesn't matter what the critics say about it’).
I’ll leave the closing words to Paddison, as quoted by Daniel Frankel in The Wrap:
‘We talk all the time about how much the market is changing, but somehow, we stop short of dealing with the magnitude of that change. Perhaps it’s because we don’t know our market as well as we should.’
Enter Stradella Road, stage right.
>>>UPDATE 1 OCTOBER 2009>>>
Ben Fritz, covering the story for the LA Times, includes a chart and data table from Stradella Road providing additional detail about the study findings.