Guerrilla Marketing: Targeting Ads To A Niche Audience For Girl Rising
On December 17th, 2012, The New York Times published an article by Tanzina Vega about the digital marketing campaign for a new documentary film, Girl Rising.
Girl Rising follows several girls from around the globe fighting to overcome impossible odds to realize their dreams of education.
Even though the film features narration by Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Kerry Washington, and Selena Gomez, a traditional marketing campaign would be prohibitively expensive and wasteful. In the new digital age, marketing messages for niche films can be targeted at a core audience (even a very small one) whose enthusiasm for the project might translate into social media recommendations and "viral" spread. But what is the niche audience for a film that champions "issues of gender diversity and global education?"
According to Tanzina Vega's reporting, the producers of Girl Rising decided to target employees at certain businesses. These corporations were apparently selected for reasons related to the role these companies play in the world (and perhaps because the message of the film was in line with the corporate marketing stories of these companies?).
It's not entirely clear to me how the list of companies - that might support nonprofits helping to educate girls - was developed. But a guerrilla marketing strategy for Girl Rising was developed around a fund-raising campaign, where money donated would go to a nonprofit group, 10x10 ("which supports educating girls around the world through film and social media advocacy"), which would then distribute the funds in ways that are consistent with the film's themes. Specifically, "[a]ds promoting “Girl Rising” [were] shown to employees of 57 companies that the filmmakers selected in hopes they will support efforts to educate girls in developing countries. Those companies include Apple, Bank of America, Oracle, Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart, Disney and Procter & Gamble."
"Employees at the companies will see ads on their computers at work, customized to use the company name. For example, an Oracle employee will see an ad that says “Oracle employees can change the world,” with a link to see a trailer for the film and donate to the cause."
Why was this strategy - targeting potential audience members at work - selected?
"“Targeting people at work is four times more likely to drive engagement than somebody coming from a residential I.P. address,” said [Chris] Golec [the chief executive of Demandbase, the company behind the ads], referring to the Internet addresses of home viewers. “If you personalize the ad with the company name that they work for you get a three times higher click through rate on the ad.”
What sort of data was collected from the online 10x10 campaign and how was that information used to market the film?
"[U]sing highly targeted advertising can help filmmakers learn who is donating, how much they are donating, how much interest there is in a film and whether there is enough interest to warrant a screening in a city, [Mr. Golec] said."
"Using such digital advertising also helps the filmmakers and producers in another way, said [Richard] Robbins [the director of Girl Rising]. “It’s infinitely more trackable, there’s so much more data,” he said. “We can measure conversion rates, who our audience is — its not just anonymous people buying tickets.”"
And of course, there was the "viral" spread of the film's trailer along with the message about donating to 10x10. This blogpost (the one you're reading right now) suggests that attaching the film's trailer to a good cause that is thematically supported by the film - and engages users through artful use of social media - is one good way to successfully start a campaign that can spread from one recommender to another online.