Feb 21, 2019

The Entertainment Industry: A Digital Marketing Strategic Blueprint

by Digital Marketing Institute

When it comes to creating a digital marketing strategy for various industries, marketers need to be savvy and knowledgeable about the nature of the industry itself before assisting professionals and managers in the strategy. Their overall success will depend on their ability to identify and assess challenges, conditions and consumer behavior across the field in question.

The entertainment industry is no exception to this, as there is a myriad of complexities in it when it comes to digital marketing.

Let’s take a look at what makes it so challenging and unique, and some actions marketers can take to help companies leverage media products.   

Overview: Entertainment Trends

With media and entertainment, there’s no doubt that consumer trends are shifting alongside digital technology. Users can access more and more content on demand, thus shifting the focus away from traditional marketing and entertainment channels (TV and radio).  

Convergence is another thing to bear in mind, with various types of companies competing for rights to the same programming. For instance, you may see TV companies and tech companies fighting to offer the same kind of content. Audio services are competing in the same way. And even non-media brands are starting to produce media-type content.   

Consumer purchasing habits are doing a 180-degree turn compared to what they were just a few years ago. We’ve seen it with Netflix, Apple TV and Spotify, to name a few – we can now watch pretty much anything we want, legally, often at a fraction of the cost of even 10 years ago. Each of these big brands is constantly competing to offer users the highest quality programming at competitive prices, and they’re doing this via subscription services. And more companies are coming out with similar or even better services.

Digitization is making more immersive experiences such as virtual reality (VR) more available to audiences. Other types of immersive media are coming to the forefront, including things like live cinema, immersive theatre, bio-connected stories and ephemeral media. Thus, entertainment marketers will need to keep an eye out for opportunities to involve their audiences ‘in’ their productions, rather than leaving them as passive bystanders.

Major networks are going to have to diversify their revenue streams away from ads – which is why they’re going to need savvy digital marketing professionals to help them understand evolving customer needs and pivot their offerings accordingly.

Content and Social Marketing in Entertainment

Content and social marketing are critical drivers in the entertainment industry in a particularly unique light: fandom. Companies that leverage loyalty to particular products and develop multiple products based around a specific movie, song or storyline are probably going to win out in the media sphere.

To that end, digital marketers might want to prepare themselves not to focus on a particular product, but rather on a specific character or storyline and the ways they are connecting to audiences via a variety of products. This will reinforce and drive the emotional and personal connections that people feel with movies and other types of entertainment.

According to Strategy+Business, even though the most loyal fans may not make up a vast portion of the audience, these are the right people to market to because they can drive the value. Thus, marketers need to understand and tap into an audience’s needs and preferences, especially given the changing nature of both demographics and consumption patterns in media.  

Knowing your target audience is particularly crucial with social networking. Here are some examples of how consumers are engaging with people-centered and story-centered brands, but not necessarily specific products:

  • They’re binge-watching the latest season of ‘Stranger Things’ and sharing their emotional reactions on Facebook
  • They’re live-streaming movie-based video games on Twitch.tv
  • They’re watching TV clips of celebrity interviews on YouTube instead of tuning into late-night TV  
  • They’re catching fashion and health tips from their favorite stars via highly personal Instagram Stories  

These types of fan-to-fan relationships are essential when it comes to peer sharing, and these types of shared interests are what it's all about when it comes to sustaining and expanding organic reach on social sites.

Smart Data Management

One interesting element of the entertainment industry is that it is seen as a leisure product – that is, it is something that people ‘want’ and choose rather than something they ‘need’. While this is still true, the fact that so much media is available via devices accentuates the need for thorough research into both target and actual users, as well as consumption patterns. This data will be fundamental for advertising.

The latest film version of ‘The Jungle Book’, for example, had a Facebook fan base of primarily older women, but the live action trailer was heavily viewed by younger adult men, which led Disney to focus their advertising on the second demographic. Because more and more people have access to more media, there needs to be more attention focused on unexpected demographics.

Also, media marketers need to keep an eye on other types of demographic trends. For instance, viewers who are Millennial-aged and younger are almost exclusively using mobile devices and doing proactive searches, whereas the older generations are still using more traditional forms of media, and if they are using digital platforms, they’re more likely to want to ‘browse’ than their younger counterparts.

Technology and Personalization

VR is predicted to be one of the fastest-growing revenue generators, which, in the US, had a revenue of $1.5 billion in 2017, a number that's expected to grow to over $7 billion by 2022. Internet advertising will also likely experience continued growth in the US, with an expected value of over $127 billion by 2022.

Spotify and Netflix are already taking advantage of AI-based personalization models via specialized playlists and recommended choices. Both are perfect examples of how to incorporate data and technology to create personalized experiences for subscribers, and even for fans of specific bands or actors, and use this all to fuel a social media campaign.  

Brand Awareness Through Multimedia Channels

As marketers, we must continually be asking not only how people are connecting, but why they are buying what they are buying. Emotional storytelling and immersive appeal is sure to be at the forefront more and more, so other types of media producers will have to figure out how to leverage innovative technologies in order to retain clients.

Brands are no longer going to be associated with a particular product, but rather a multitude of products. Walt Disney had this right from the get-go when he first began construction of a theme park.

Today, it’s crucial for emerging music artists to have a presence on various channels, from YouTube to Instagram to Spotify. Because people are using so many different types of digital devices and choosing their media carefully, often via subscription services, it’s important that brands (including celebrities) remain present and consistent across multiple channels to build awareness.

Alternative Revenue Sources

According to Salesforce, almost 40% of those who watch are willing to pay for content that’s ad-free, and these subscription services are on the rise, even for standard television cable companies. As they have more and more choice, people simply aren’t watching disruptive advertising anymore.

There is still an abundance of companies that rely on traditional forms of advertising, which is not a sustainable revenue source. Since 86% of people don’t watch TV ads, where are media producers finding alternative revenue streams? Some alternatives include groups, events, memberships, sponsorships and subscription services.

In general, digital marketing professionals will absolutely want to focus on helping to generate more revenue by accentuating high-quality, subscription-based and choice-based viewing patterns which are predominantly ad-free.

The Bottom Line

The entertainment industry is rapidly evolving in various directions. Marketing in this B2C space has various challenges that digital professionals must be aware of and be able to conquer, if they are going to help move media companies out of antiquated, ad-based models.

To recap, some of the main challenges in this industry currently include:

  • An over-reliance on outdated revenue sources
  • An over-reliance on the wrong KPIs (such as ratings)
  • An over-reliance on a ‘Hollywood’ level of celebrity marketing (it should be personal and relatable instead)
  • An unclear understanding of how audiences are engaging with both products and technology
  • Not getting personal (or personalized) enough
  • Consumers think they ‘lack’ choice when they see advertisements
  • Not utilizing and analyzing enough consumer data to make accurate decisions about customer needs  

When working with clients in the entertainment industry, marketers would be wise to encourage companies to focus not so much on product lines but on marketing activities that take advantage of storytelling and emotional appeal.

They should also discourage executives from fawning over quantitative, outdated KPIs such as viewer ratings and unique visitors. The key here is to focus on stories over things, while ensuring that celebrity-based marketing is both subtle and relevant.

It is only by collecting relevant data and proper monitoring of metrics that entertainment companies will be able to move towards the most appropriate new trends and engage their fans effectively. Cross-promotions and innovative technology will be key, but only if the fan base desires it.

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