Explore Blog

Targeting Your Theatrical Audience With Movio Part 1

When deciding on a marketing strategy for an upcoming film release, most marketers want to target as many potential moviegoers as possible to maximize on opening weekend box office earnings and audience buzz. While a blanket targeting strategy can raise awareness about your movie, how will you know who to double-down on with your marketing dollars? Enter Movio’s Media & Research divisions, connecting you directly with actual movie ticket purchasers and giving you the ability to target your core audience. Our comprehensive database includes 10.7M Active Moviegoers across 49 states with 8 years of historic data from over 4,500 film titles. We uniquely identify moviegoers most likely to see a film based on historic purchase behavior combined with moviegoing propensity to create a film’s custom audience. 

To demonstrate all that Movio has to offer we looked at the unproduced script 10-31 as an example yet-to-be-released film, to explain how you can use all of the Movio Media services and Movio Research products to build and execute the film’s marketing strategy for a theatrical release.

Spec script

Intro Script: After doing research on the 2019 Blacklist, I was immediately drawn to the script for 10-31. Being a huge horror fan and associating the title with my favorite holiday I knew that I wanted to read 10-31.  
Writers: The screenwriters are Ian Shorr & Peter Gamble.
Synopsis: After surviving an attack 4 years earlier, a young woman takes her niece and nephew trick-or-treating and discovers a note inside a candy wrapper that says there’s a killer loose on her block. The masked murderer from her past is back, and he wants revenge! 
Tone: This script depicts a traditional slasher film with plenty of jumpscares & twists throughout.  Our heroine is not as innocent and naive as the OG Laurie Strode, but her guts and cleverness keep her one step ahead of the psycho-stalker. 
Comps:Halloween (2018), Ready or Not (2019), The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018), Hell Fest (2018), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019)

Building a comp list

Before recommending anything it’s important to identify the comp list for 10-31. The importance of a strong comp list gives you the ability to accurately target the moviegoers who are most likely to see this film. “Comp” is short for comparable film; using similarities from genre, storyline, casting choices (like lead actor/actress ethnicity and age range) as well as Director and/or Writer - if they have a strong fan base like Quentin Tarantino or Stephen King - can help you define your list of comp titles.  

Selecting these movies pre-release can dictate the best time of year to release your film and even help with predicting box office gross. While it seems obvious to release a Horror movie in October, as we’ve seen previously, not all fans jump out of their seats for the same film, and Horror fans do need to be entertained year-round. When looking at the genre as a whole, these moviegoers over-index as “occasional” meaning that they see 2 - 5 movies in a 6-month period. Far fewer movies per month when compared to moviegoers that prefer comedies for example who over-index as “frequent” seeing up to 4 movies a month. It is worth noting that we have found Horror fans spend more on average, monthly, at the box office than blockbuster fans, even though their average admissions per visit is less. 

Since 10-31 has not been made yet, we will use the genre and storyline to build our comp list.  My first choice for a Primary Comp is the 2018 release: Halloween. The film follows the classic “slasher-horror” formula which matches the general premise of 10-31. While Halloween may seem like an obvious choice this title also comes with a large established fan base dating back to the late 70’s. This broad range of moviegoers showed up for the return of Michael Myers & Laurie Strode earning a domestic box office opening weekend of $76M. 

Some recent horror films that seem more aligned from a box office earnings perspective, but still fit the tone of 10-31 are: Ready or Not ($8.0M), The Strangers: Prey at Night ($10.4M), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ($20.9M) and Hell Fest ($5.1M). If comp titles aren’t immediately popping into your head, you can utilize Movio’s Similarity Algorithm to help identify additional comp films after you’ve selected your primary title. This algorithm scores movie similarity based on theatrical audience overlap. The more moviegoers who saw both of any two films (relative to what would be expected by random chance), the more similar those movies are considered to be.  While Halloween pulls large horror franchise films (think: The Conjuring universe and anything Stephen King), the smaller titles I suggested all overlap within Movio similarity and even include the primary comp, Halloween.

Building a behavior-based target audience

Movio currently offers two types of media campaigns and we use our proprietary Propensity Algorithm to identify the most likely moviegoers to see the film. Using the comp list we created earlier, we create a content model representing the upcoming film release, using past ticket purchase data from comparable movie titles. Based on the content model, a propensity score is generated for every individual moviegoer, who are then ranked based on their likelihood to see the film from most likely to least likely. Propensity score thresholds are used to create ‘likely’ and ‘possible’ audience segments for targeted media campaigns.  We have found conversion rates to be much higher for propensity based targeted segments than when using traditional demographic based targeting. For example, looking at six wide-release films from 2019 of varying genres we saw a 6.6% conversion rate for the propensity “likely” audience vs. a 2.7% conversion rate when using just demographic targeting. Using this predictive behavioral analysis combined with years-worth of data from our exhibitor partners provides a more accurate way to target moviegoers when compared to online ticket aggregators or location-based data providers.  

Direct campaigns

The first type of campaign is a direct email that is sent out to targeted members of our exhibitor partners’ loyalty database. Standard format for a pre-release campaign includes two sends, the first is a “Watch Trailer” campaign inviting members to watch the film’s trailer or bonus content for reward points. This send typically goes out 12 days before the film’s release on a Sunday evening. We have found that this day and time of the week has a higher open rate than other options. The second email is a “Get Tickets” send that goes out the day before the film's release reminding moviegoers who interacted with the first email to buy tickets and links directly to the ticketing site of their preferred exhibitor website. 

A combination of a highly targeted member list and the incentive of reward points makes our email campaigns successful. This is a fully managed service, including coordination with all exhibitor partners, creating email campaigns and review/execution processes. All direct email campaigns have 100% share of voice.

Compared to industry averages, our direct email campaigns have consistent above average benchmarks for opens and clicks. 

Movio 2019 Benchmarks - Direct Email Campaigns
Open Rate: 23.5%
Click Rate (for trailer watch): 37.0%
Click Rate (for online ticket purchase): 3.8%

Entertainment Industry 2019 Benchmarks - Email Campaigns
Open Rate: 20.5%
Click Rate: 2.4%

Digital campaigns

The second type of media campaign that Movio offers is a targeted digital campaign, executed via social media and programmatic media channels. Utilizing Movio’s 1:1 matched data makes digitally targeting actual ticket purchasers a reality. Because our data comes directly from exhibitor loyalty programs, not only are you able to target online and credit card purchasers, but also offline and cash purchasers. Once your custom audience segment is created the moviegoers PII data is anonymized and matched to our data on-boarder partner, LiveRamp. Audience segments are then pushed directly to client seats within social and programmatic ad platforms for targeting.

Campaign measurement

At the end of both our direct and digital campaigns Movio provides a comprehensive measurement report. These reports include final campaign stats and ROI measurement for the targeted audience, comparison of this specific films’ performance benchmarks vs. the Movio averages and insights into the audience that actually showed up to the film from opening weekend and weekend two.

Now that you’ve learned how Movio can identify and target the most likely audience for your movie you can get in touch here to inquire about an upcoming campaign or for more information on our Media products. Next up in this series, we take a deep-dive into our Movio Research offerings, detailing what we offer and how you can use our reports and console to help define your film’s marketing strategy during its entire theatrical life cycle. 

Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep me
in the loop

Our monthly email update with marketing tips, audience insights and Movio news.