Lessons from Hollywood’s use of the web for marketing

One of the most aggressive users of online promotional campaigns is Hollywood. Movies need to quickly create a mass following, and studios have embraced the web as a way to drive word of mouth. The LA Times online recently ran an overview of some of the most notable Hollywood online promotions in 2007, and it’s well worth a look (link). Some things to think about:
–The production values on many of the promotions are incredibly high. Hollywood is a trendsetter in this area, and is setting a high bar for other companies.
–Web marketers struggle to figure out how to measure success for an online campaign. In this spirit, it’s a little distressing to see that some of the most popular online promotions in 2007 were tied to movies that did terribly at the box office. On the other hand, that’s probably telling us something we already knew — if a movie stinks, no amount of clever advertising will force people to go to it. The same principle applies to online marketing of other sorts of product.
–In one case, a mysterious website was designed to promote a video game, but people online decided that it must actually be designed to promote a movie coming out at the same time. So it ended up driving awareness of the movie. Be careful with those teaser campaigns!
One more thing to think about: Many of the most successful websites create a long-term relationship with the user. Although online promotions are fun, their ephemeral nature cuts against some of the basic nature of the web. We wonder if Hollywood might not be better off building a presence within online communities of people who are the right audience for a film, rather than trying to drive those people to a new website.

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