Whether it’s the first day of filming or the red carpet premiere, Twitter is now a key part of the marketing mix for movies. In 2015, there were more than 400 films with an official Twitter handle, from studio blockbusters like “The Martian” (@MartianMovie) to indie darlings like “The Danish Girl” (@DanishGirlMov). Even more eye-opening is the fact that in 2015 we saw over 165 million movie-related Tweets globally.
While those figures only speak to owned Twitter accounts and earned Tweets, what about paid Twitter campaigns from movie studios?
To better understand the effectiveness of Twitter advertising for movies, we recently commissioned analytics powerhouse Neustar MarketShare (@MarketShareCo) to conduct a Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) study for domestic film releases — meaning films released simultaneously in the US and Canada. (Domestic return on investment, therefore, is a combined metric for both countries.)
Studios tend to spend most of their advertising budgets around a film’s theatrical release date. To get a comprehensive view of performance, we looked at nearly four years of paid theatrical history data — from December 2011 to June 2015. The research team used multivariate regression analysis (a process that measures and predicts the sales impact of various media channels) to understand the effects of changes in Twitter media for movies. Researchers also looked specifically at comedy and action genres in the US, as these categories were among the biggest box office performers.
Most importantly, the firm designed the MMM research to capture all drivers of movie ticket sales, whether paid, unpaid, direct, or intermediate. And they compared paid Twitter campaigns to other media vehicles like radio, online display, and print ads. (Note that Promoted Videos didn’t debut until August 2014, so this Twitter advertising product didn’t factor into most of the study data.)
The first major takeaway from the MMM analysis concerns the ROI of a film’s TV advertising spending. The research shows that combining Twitter Ads and TV ads boosts ROI and is more effective than either one alone.
Domestically, in the US and Canada, there was a 16 percent increase in ROI for TV campaigns with Twitter support. That means studios get more bang for their TV spend when they add Twitter advertising to the mix, and even more so for comedies (with a 24 percent increase in ROI) versus action movies (an 11 percent increase in ROI) in the US.
Neustar MarketShare also evaluated the return on advertising spending (ROAS) for paid Twitter campaigns in addition to other media channels to see how efficiently Twitter impacted movie ticket sales. (ROAS is the incremental revenue that is attributed to ad spend on each channel — to calculate it, divide the revenue by the cost of the ad.) Researchers found that Twitter offers a higher ROAS by a factor of two to three times, depending on the country and genre.
Compared to the average of all other advertising methods — including radio, print, online display, paid search, out of home (OOH), and TV — Twitter’s ROAS was 3.5 times more efficient at driving movie ticket sales domestically.
During the four-year period that Neustar MarketShare examined, Twitter — including both paid and earned Twitter activity — contributed to a total of 8.9 percent of movie ticket sales domestically, which is nearly 1 in 10 tickets purchased.
In Canada, Twitter contributed to a total of 7.2 percent of ticket sales, while in the US, it contributed to 13 percent of action flick tickets sales and 9.6 percent of comedy movie ticket sales.
Twitter’s new First View product — which combines Promoted Videos and Promoted Trends into one powerhouse offering — is an effective way for movie marketers to promote film trailers. First View allows advertisers to place a video or trailer in the top ad unit in the Twitter timeline for 24 hours.
It works like this: When users first visit Twitter, the top ad slot in the timelines will be a Promoted Video for your film. (First View was not released on Twitter until February 2016, so it was not included in this study.)
You can get a sense of First View’s tremendous potential, however, when you consider the ROAS and efficiency figures for Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets between December 2011 and June 2015. Domestically, Neustar MarketShare found a $4.73 ROAS for every dollar spent on Promoted Trends. Furthermore, Promoted Trends were a whopping 5.6 times more efficient at driving ticket sales than the average of all other media channels domestically.
MMM helps marketers pinpoint the effectiveness of individual marketing tactics — in this case, Twitter advertising for movies. Essentially, the research clearly shows that adding paid Twitter campaigns to your TV advertising for films boosts movie ticket sales.
And that is no sleeper hit.
This post was co-authored by Gleana Albritton (@MsGlea)