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Could Consumer-Tracking Online Ads Help Indie Films Find Audiences?

Could Consumer-Tracking Online Ads Help Indie Films Find Audiences?

A San Francisco-based company named Adroll has culled $15 million in new funding to adapt its consumer-tracking online advertising approach to the entertainment industry, according to an article on GigaOM. While the focus will be on studio offerings, the planned move could be a boon for specialty distributors and DIY indie producers trying to find their audiences.

The simplest example of how “retargeting” would work is that a potential moviegoer would watch an early trailer; the ad company could then target that consumer with ads for the film closer to release to remind him to go. This methodology already is used in the retail world to a great extent. The idea is for the studios to save money and increase awareness at the same time by having more detailed information on potential customers that have already shown an interest. (Moviepilot is operating in a similar space.)

“These companies have the opportunity to make the promotion of new releases much more targeted, and also sustain a more engaging conversation with die-hard fans of a specific movie franchise,” Adroll CEO Aaron Bell said in the article.

These days, one of the biggest gripes in the studio moviemaking world is that it costs tens of millions of dollars to bombard audiences with the traditional marketing materials for even a modestly budgeted picture. It’s hard to imagine that any fan of, say, Universal’s “Bourne” series is unaware of the Jeremy Renner installment coming out soon. In that sense, a digital reminder in ad form would have limited impact. And there’s always the danger of prompting more annoyance (if not paranoia) than gratitude in people realizing they’re being ad-stalked.

But what about indies? One of the biggest gripes in the indie moviemaking world is that distributors have so little money to spend on raising awareness. These are films that rarely penetrate the cultural consciousness on a national level and need help to find their scattered audiences.

If the ad technology could be tied to, for instance, reviews or trailers that indie film fans had read and watched, or digital downloads they had purchased, then ads could be targeted to upcoming films that are under the radar but likely to resonate with those same potential audiences. That increased awareness could have great value for both filmmakers and indie movie lovers, especially if it included local theater information for where and when those films would be playing.

Imagine that you downloaded and watched a specialty film from a filmmaker you didn’t know and liked it; the next time that filmmaker had a movie coming out you were pinged with ads that included locations and showtimes. Or you read a bunch of reviews of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” online and that triggered targeted ads about when it was playing near you, or when a companion book was going to be published.

Could advertising like this be genuinely useful?

The full story is here at GigaOM.

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