Warner Brothers Says Creative And Performance Need To Come Together

WBMarketing a major motion picture is a complex affair for all stakeholders involved, including the studio’s internal teams, media agencies and relationships with filmmakers and talent.

And studios like Warner Bros. Pictures have to think well beyond the movie’s run in the theater.

“You want to capture all the data around what people are talking about and back that with analytics so you can measure the longevity of a title all the way from the theatrical release to the TV spinoff and consumer products,” said Ross Necessary, executive director of worldwide marketing services for Warner Bros.

Theatrical marketing used to revolve around a traditional press junket: promotional interviews with actors and directors. But digital media has virtually rewritten that process, Necessary said.

Although Warner Bros. is used to producing, trafficking and placing multimillion-dollar TV buys in support of blockbuster releases like “Harry Potter” and “Batman v Superman,” digital video and social media represent real-time opportunities to extend the window of a release.

“We’re specifically creating content for Snapchat and Instagram and the volume of work that goes into that couldn’t have been anticipated,” he said. “There’s the [temptation] to say, ‘Here’s 17 pieces of creative. Let’s just get it out there.’ But we’re trying to get more strategic in our release [rather than] using social in one fell swoop.”

While Warner Bros.’ partners on the media agency side are generally responsible for trafficking programmatic buys, a studio like Warner Bros. might want to know the ROI on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and then apply learnings around social media tune-in to create the film’s next TV spot.

And this means creative trafficking and delivery systems need to be in sync with media performance.

“People have bought targeted media for a while, but the problem is how do you get better at targeted creative?” Necessary said. “We all know that a piece of social creative is where you’ll see engagement faster, but it’s still anecdotal.”

Since 2013, Warner Brothers has worked with London-based Adstream (not to be confused with the ad server Open AdStream), which is used by some 10,000 brands and agencies for creative management, trafficking and ad delivery. 

Warner Bros. Pictures uses Adstream mostly as a repository for video creative and trailers for theatrical releases in the past.

But upon the company’s acquisition of Deluxe AdServices in February, Adstream is now beta testing campaign management and analytics tools that determine creative effectiveness with clients like Warner Bros. It will release the tools more widely in the next few months.

“We expect content delivery companies to be at the center of the data industry in the future, given our proposition of going upstream,” said Ian Wheal, global strategy director for Adstream. “We’re expanding into analyzing the final delivery of content and how efficient was this asset in driving traffic to the website [or sales].”

Warner Bros. is using Adstream as a central campaign management hub, both within its creative services group, which focuses on custom sponsorships, and traditional marketing services. A number of its agency partners also use it to upload and prime assets for digital and broadcast delivery.

Necessary expects the next step will be using Adstream to connect the content production component with Warner Bros.’ testing platforms, “so we can see what’s being said about the creative before it even hits the market,” he said, which helps guide media investment.

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