Ten Films and Their Official Websites
Nick Birch 2011
As far as movie advertising goes, official web sites have become a crucial tool for advertising upcoming and existing films. Mabry & Porter (2010) reports a ‘relatively important and statistically significant relationship between web site traffic and box office revenue’. Movie trailers have been a vital part of the advertising process, appearing ‘very early on - around 1912 - although they did not become standard for several years’ (Film Reference, N/A).
Of some 10-billion videos watched on line annually, movie trailers rank #3, after news and user-created video. With such easy and instant access to them, these increasingly popular cinematic morsels are being devoured by moviegoers–and served up with serious consideration by the industry that sometimes spends sums equivalent to a third world country’s annual budget to concoct them (Merin, 2008).
According to a study by Microsoft Advertising and 20th Century Fox, ‘[o]nline film advertising should play a growing role in the marketing of movie releases... Online film advertising [is] particularly effective at presenting film trailers in a positive environment and broadening [the advertiser’s] reach beyond the cinema environment. Trailers were confirmed as the single most influential element in consumers’ decision to view a film’ (Microsoft Advertising, 2009).
Snell (2009) believes that movies are a large part of the entertainment industry and that ‘in recent years their websites have become increasingly critical to their overall success’.
The design, style and content of a movie website is generally meant to meet visitors’ expectations of that website. Visitors expect to find websites that are graphically rich, with audio and video as well. They expect something special, and entertainment value is often more important than the website being very accessible or fast-loading.
Visitors expect to be able to arrive on a movie website and determine within a few minutes if they want to see the movie. For this reason, trailers are key elements: they are almost always easy to find or automatically start when the home page loads.
The design style also reflects visitor expectations, and the movie itself. You can usually tell very quickly upon arriving on a website whether it is for a comedy, drama, horror or action movie. (Snell, 2009)
Some of the trends that Snell (2009) believes are apparent in current film websites are the following:
1. Short Page Length
2. Use of Flash
4. Show Times and Ticket Info
5. Display of Nominations and Awards
6. Social Networking /Media Interaction
8. Fun Extras
To supplement, Chapman (2011) offers some film website Dos and Don’ts:
- Do evoke the style and feel of the film being marketed.
- Don’t forget to give visitors the option to turn the sound off on your site. Film sites are one of the few places you can get away with autoplaying sound, but it’s still important to give users control.
- Don’t resize browser windows or automatically go into full-screen mode when visitors land on your site. Remember, your site might not be their primary focus at that time, and if you force it on them, they might just walk away.
- Do provide extra content from the film to engage visitors. This is especially important for children’s films.
- Do feature any big-name stars prominently on the site.
- Don’t be afraid to try new or experimental UI ideas if they work well for the film. But make sure they’re relevant to the film and will add to the user experience.
There is an increasing value of creative, immersive experiences in building a digital film advertising campaign as it delivers a more positive experience for potential filmgoers (Microsoft Advertising, 2009). Digital marketing is a powerful platform in reaching potentially influential groups in a range of ways, depending on the type of film. ‘Virtually every movie made has a film website these days, ranging from little more than an online place to park a trailer to a fully-immersive experience’ Chapman, (2011). Some sites are more effective than others, so to demonstrate some of the current and distinctly unique online advertising techniques are official sites for ten of this year’s releases.