Advertising Motion Pictures On Mobile: Is Flixster Showing Filmmakers (Big and Small) How To Market Motion Pictures on Phones and Tablets?


Prestitial from AdGibbon on Vimeo.
A January 14th, 2013 post to Mobile Marketing Daily suggests that 2013 may be remembered as the year that the world's filmmakers began to figure out how to market films on mobile.

In an interview with Mobile Marketing Daily, James Smith, the CRO of Flixster (the movie discovery and listings service owned by Warner Brothers), revealed that the "most popular ad format on Flixster is the mobile prestitial.”

What's a prestitial? Those are the ads that launch when you first visit a website - usually dimming out the content on the page but offering a (relevant?) piece of branded content in an ad that almost fills the frame.

And a "mobile prestitial?" That's a prestitial ad designed to play on a mobile device.

You're probably already familiar with the "pre-roll" ads that play before YouTube videos. Typically these ads are short videos that offer the user the option of watching the ad - or opting out after a set "exit time" (often 5 seconds).

But the pre-roll ads currently on YouTube aren't narrowly targeted. For example, the ads currently blanketing YouTube in the US for an online dating site hold no interest for me - and I click out as soon as I can.

By way of contrast, consider the great mobile prestitial ad for Steven Soderbergh's 2011 film Contagion (above). Notice how this quick teaser invites the user to engage in touch and swipe on a phone or tablet. What a great way to introduce the audience to a film about a disease that spreads from contaminated surfaces.

Mobile prestitials for films are probably best when they are quick hits - thematically related to the film - that appear on a website where I've gone to find out about new films. And notice how the best mobile ads are the ones that take advantage of the interactivity of the mobile screen.

Of course, in addition to their interactivity, one of the key features of the prestitial mobile ads on Flixster is that they are usually narrowly targeted at movie fans. In fact, the prestitial ads on Flixster often link directly to trailers on Flixster's movie detail pages. Since Flixster users are usually visiting Flixster to learn about current movies, Flixster is reporting that on average about 10% of mobile users click on the button in the prestitial to watch a trailer. And from there - users often buy movie tickets - streamlining the transition from search to sale on the mobile device.

But what's so special about mobile? Don't users access Flixster sites from their home PCs too?

Yes... but according to James Smith of Flixster: "Our mobile users are more action oriented: they watch more trailers, do more viewing of showtimes and are engaged for longer periods of time than on Web. And the ultimate consumer action is also stronger. We sell more movie tickets on mobile.

Perhaps that's why according to Flixster the studios are currently only "putting about 35% of their spend on the Web and 65% on mobile."

And if Flixster is using mobile prestitials to rake in advertising dollars from the movie studios in the US - just imagine how the mobile prestitial market might change indie film marketing - once indie filmmakers start making mobile prestitials and carefully placing them on niche sites where their target audience is likely to visit. And what is the future for mobile prestitials in movie-mad China?... Where there are already over 1 billion mobile customers but the era of the smartphone and mass movie marketing is just beginning!

Thanks to Nick DeMartino for the link.

UPDATE JANUARY 15TH, 2013 If you're a filmmaker looking for someone who might help you create a cool mobile prestitial, indie film marketing expert Sheri Candler has informed me that Elizabeth Burtis has the experience and coding chops.

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