Do Movie Marketers Waste Their Money on TV?

Study finds that youth learn about movies online and from friends, not from television

Last Updated: September 30, 2009 @ 1:03 PM

Movie marketers who still put the bulk of their financial resources into TV ads are missing the boat with their youthful target audience.

That’s the conclusion of “Moviegoers 2010," a comprehensive study of nearly 4,000 moderate and heavy moviegoers undertaken by interactive marketing guru Gordon Paddison on behalf of underwriters Google, AOL, Microsoft, Fandango, Facebook, Yahoo and MovieTIckets.com.

The study found that the Internet has become the dominant source for reviews. Not only did 62 percent of respondents say they get their reviews from the newest medium, 75 percent said they trust their friends more than critics these days in regards to moviegoing decision-making.

“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," Paddison said. "Perhaps it’s because we don’t know our market as well as we should."

Paddison, a former New Line executive who now heads his own consultancy, Stradella Road, presented his data to a small assemblage of studio officials and press Tuesday at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Kicking off his presentation with a still image from the final episode of “MASH” — it was an aerial photo of the camp with the word “goodbye” spelled out with big rocks — Paddison said it’s important for marketers to say “goodbye” to the mass-audience environment provided by that landmark series finale, which drew more than 60 million viewers.
 
That kind of reach longer exists on television, he said.
 
Among those polled, 86 percent are regular Internet users and 52 percent have digital video recorders, of which 71 percent regularly skip past commercials — including movie spots on Thursday night.

Those polled who were 25 or younger said they are online an average of 19.8 hours per week vs. 14.3 hours spent watching television.

Notably, the Internet has become the dominant source for reviews. Not only did 62 percent of respondents say they get their reviews from the newest medium, 75 percent said they trust their friends more than critics these days in regards to moviegoing decision-making.

He also pointed out that it’s  useful to break down the moviegoing market into four distinct age quadrants: those age 13-17, young adults, thirtysomethings, and those older than 40.
 
These days, Paddison noted, each of these groups consumes media very differently, “and it’s important to be in the channel where they spend their time.”

For example, while 13- to 17-year-olds tend to be media multitaskers who are heavily influenced by their peer groups and social networking, 18- to 29-year-olds place a high value on consumer reviews found on review aggregation sites.
 
Those age 30-39, meanwhile, typically have forsaken their peer groups and now base their moviegoing decisions on what their spouses and children want to do. However, they’re also at a stage in life where they can afford the most advanced media technology, and tend to be the most aggressive of ad-skipping DVR users.
 
Moviegoers 40-49 still enjoy TV and newspapers, but also embrace digital media.

Other notable numbers revealed in the study:
 
– 73 percent of moviegoers surveyed have profiles on social networking sites.
– 69 percent regularly watch online video content.
– 90 percent have mobile phones.
– 84 percent say that once they’ve made up their mind regarding a ticket purchase, no film critic is going to talk them out of that decision.
– 80 percent say a positive review from friend or family members will make them more likely to see a film.