This is how Fox Star Studios is upping its Digital Game

Fox Star Studios along with Merkle Sokrati built a Marketing Data Platform that can envisage varied audience personas and capture the many facets of the audience's purchase journey through a digital campaign

by Venkata Susmita Biswas
Published - Oct 1, 2018 8:58 AM Updated: Oct 1, 2018 8:58 AM

Shikha Kapur, CMO, Fox Star Studios (a division of Star India Pvt Ltd), thrives in the chaos of the digital ecosystem. “It is an ecosystem of chaos because of its volatility. The unprecedented rate in which consumers change behaviours because of the rapidly evolving omni-channel world they live in is challenging us to rethink our understanding of them. It is forcing us to question the status quo and the sacred cows” she explains and quickly adds “But growth is found in chaos.”

Movie marketing has typically been defined by the music video led campaigns, that are followed by interviews of the actors in leading magazines and TV shows, which are then augmented by promotional visits/press conferences by the actors in addition to at least three different poster creatives making a splash across cities.

Kapur, however, has been challenging traditional movie marketing templates and adopting new and innovative ways to reach audience and bring them into theatres. Kapur’s three member digital and analytics team along with the data science team at Star, and Merkle Sokrati, has laid the building blocks for a Marketing Data Platform that can envisage varied audience personas and capture the many facets of the audience's purchase journey through a film campaign.
The platform has an inbuilt ability to track conversations, affinity and engagement with the film’s marketing and understand the movie going audience intimately through mining their behaviours over time.

Speaking about challenging the status quo and preempting change, Kapur says, “The film business is an iconic institution. Creativity, instinct and passion have been our building blocks while we have evolved over time. And over the years certain beliefs and behaviours that emanated from plain instinct and passion have been institutionalised. Sometimes, we do things just because that’s the way we do it in the movie business. However, as we all know, the entertainment landscape has changed drastically. Consumers have more entertainment choices than ever before right in their houses. It’s time we guess less and know more about our audience.”
Kapur says she chose to use digital advertising consciously “to step away from the guesswork but integrate creativity and passion with sound audience insights.” She believes that tried and tested templates for marketing will be disrupted by the rapid transformation that digital is bringing to the industry. “Every offline activity leads to a corresponding digital activity, be it keyword searches on Google and YouTube or people signing up for Facebook communities and groups. We can then harness all of this activity to understand consumers better,” she adds.
A simple question kicked off this project. “How do we find out who our moviegoer consumers really are and what they really do? And secondly how can we use data effectively to -catalyse the growth of our business through an intimate understanding of the movie going audience?”

Kapur says, “These are simple questions but hard to answer because we’re disconnected from our consumer, we don’t know the relationship with the consumer’s wallet. Ticketing partners and cinemas ultimately own that transaction, and as an outcome they collect tons of information on movie going behaviours and habits, however we don’t have ready access to most of it. This means we’re starting a new relationship with the audience with every release and then starting over again for each film.” She says that the Marketing Data Platform is a start to change this relationship with the viewers and understand them more intimately over time.

The MDP ties in data from across digital platforms be that organic or inorganic and displays it on the dashboard on a day-on-day basis. “As the platform is fed more data from movie releases Fox Star Studios will be in a position to build models to predict the market for a film and tweak the promotions accordingly,” explains Piyush Arora- Customer Success Manager, Merkle Sokrati.

“Digital is our mainstay,” says Kapur as she excitedly picks up a blue marker to explain how the MDP works. Fox Star Studios has partnered with both Paytm and Bookmyshow to understand paths of conversions across films and learn from campaigns in real time.

Typically, BookMyShow works with many production houses not just as the preferred ticketing partner for their films, but even at a strategic level that allows them to effectively reach out to their audience through the platform. In the case of a tie-up for Sanju (marketed by Fox Star Studios) the partnership was a little different from the usual.

Speaking about utilising the power of the MDP built by Fox Star Studios, Marzdi Kalianiwala, SVP- Marketing and Business Intelligence, BookMyShow, says, “We worked extensively with Fox Studios during the release of Sanju to execute this larger association and successfully reached out to relevant user segments digitally, using our incisive understanding of consumer buying behaviour and purchase patterns. This helped us to collectively improve campaign efficiencies, and maximise returns.”

Kapur, who has seen the landscape evolve over the last 15 years, believes in digital-first today. “We can measure the impact and efficacy of the campaign, of every creative asset we roll out and every piece of social conversation. Finally we want to recognise our audience by attributing a lifetime value to every person who engages with us and we want to grow that value over time.”

Kapur says that she and her team has moved on from targeting campaigns on the basis of demographics. “We are doing a lot of work to understand audience segments and personas . We have replaced demographics with “behavioural clusters,” predicting marketing decisions on immense amounts of data about audience affinities and behaviours and not estimated ones. We are measuring parameters that show us actual intent to watch a film, rather than trying to bump up or change what we define as vanity metrics,” she says.

Fox Star Studios has been at the forefront of new technological innovations to promote movies, be that VR filters in the case of Sanju or a gamified Facebook chatbot for the promotions of Baaghi 2. With at least 20-odd releases planned for 2019, Kapur sounds like a soothsayer when she says, “I believe that the movie marketing universe is set to evolve very rapidly, very soon. We want to be at the forefront of that change and innovation.”

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