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December 5th, 2015

Analysis: To Drive Ticket Sales for Action Films, How Should Studios Allocate Their Marketing?

With the TV Upfronts and Digital Newfronts in full swing, marketers are more focused than ever on where TV, digital video, and other marketing channels should fit in the marketing mix. And with summer blockbuster season upon us, movie marketing is top of mind.

To help answer these questions, MarketShare and Google have partnered to understand how TV, digital, and other forms of advertising can impact action films in the box office. We framed the analysis around one specific question: For action film marketers worldwide, what is the revenue impact of digital marketing in comparison to other advertising channels?


Findings Highlights

At the spend levels studied, while TV still demonstrates good value for marketers, there is a point of diminishing returns. Advertisers could have improved marketing-driven revenue by 34% (or approximately $15 M) for the average US PG-13 action movie by:

  • Increasing digital spend from 10% of overall budgets to 35% (digital advertising includes TV networks’ digital properties, display and video networks, exchanges, social media sites, paid search, and more).
  • Reducing TV spend from 82% of total ad budget to closer to 50%.


Analysis Overview
MarketShare’s analysis looked at ad spend and corresponding box office sales for the largest 26 US-produced PG-13 action films over a two-year period (2012-2013). These films were all released for a worldwide audience, and represented $4.8 billion in box office ticket sales in the US alone. The study focused on the sales impact of marketing in Australia, Brazil, Germany, France, the US and the UK.

The analysis was conducted through the MarketShare Benchmark:Media application, which uses sophisticated marketing analytics to quantify the sales and revenue impact across marketing channels, and accounts for external influences such as changes in the economy or the weather. Data sources include Google proprietary data, Kantar Media, Crimson Hexagon, Metacritic, and Rentrak.

Some of our findings for US movie releases are below:

Overall Media Mix

  • On PG-13 action films, marketers spent from $20M to $50M in US advertising placements per movie, or an average of $30M.
  • Also on average, TV represented over 82% of the US advertising spend; digital, 10%.
  • TV was the largest driver of box office revenue of all ad channels for the sample, generating 64% of revenue attributable to marketing. Relative to other channels, TV was also the slowest to hit the point of diminishing returns.
  • Despite TV’s powerful impact, however, advertisers’ TV spend did exceed the point of diminishing returns. The advertisers analyzed would have maximized revenue overall by bringing TV ad budgets much closer to 50% of the total ad budget.
  • Within the sample at current spend levels, digital was 3x more effective than TV at driving revenue. Taking ad effectiveness and other factors into account, marketers in this category would have seen a strong incremental revenue lift from increasing digital ad spend to as much as 35% of the marketing mix. (Digital advertising includes TV networks’ digital properties; display and video networks; exchanges; social media sites; paid search; and more.)
  • Within the sample, print advertising represented 3% of advertising spend on average. Doubling print spend, to 6% of overall advertising budgets, would incrementally increase ad-driven revenue.

YouTube Advertising

  • Revenue generated from YouTube far exceeded spend. For the sample studied, YouTube comprised 4% of total US ad spend for the category—but generated 16% of marketing-driven revenue.
  • For the typical PG-13 action film during the time analyzed, shifting 10% of ad budgets from TV to YouTube would have increased marketing-driven sales by 16%.

Specific YouTube Ad Formats

  • Over the period studied at current spend levels, Google TrueView Ads (in which advertisers are only charged when a viewer interacts with a video ad unit) generated over $8 revenue per $1 spent—2x the return of YouTube non-skippable video.
  • YouTube Mastheads—an ad unit running the full width of the YouTube homepage on both desktop and mobile for 24 hours—also generated over $8 for every $1 spent in the US—6.9x the returns of TV.

To learn more about our global findings or methodology, or to learn more about Neustar Marketshare Benchmark:Media, contact Neustar.

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