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HITS Summit Strikes a Chord with Digital Marketers

By Lyndsey Schaefer

More than 300 executives gathered at the Four Seasons Los Angeles today at the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) Digital Marketing & Analytics Summit to discuss the intersection of where IT & marketing meet. Devendra Mishra, Chief Strategist, MESA and Executive Director, HITS, addressed the tectonic plate shifts in the entertainment business and said that CMOs, CIOs & CTOs are primary enablers of these shifts.

The morning keynote from Michael Tritter, Senior Vice President, Interactive Marketing, Warner Bros. Worldwide Marketing discussed digital marketing as the Hollywood transformer. Tritter was interviewed by Andrew Wallenstein, Editor-in-Chief, Digital, Variety .

Tritter said that as it’s grown, digital has become an essential component of marketing to encompass all divisions, from publicity to research to media buys.  He pointed to the increased value of movie trailers, as more people are sitting in front of their computers all day, with trailers now generating more awareness.

“The trailer format isn’t as limited now – you don’t have to find theater placements for them. They are integrated across TV, online, on billboards,” Tritter says. “There is more weight placed on trailers, but more of a challenge to do something great with them.”

He shared his experience with using five different trailers to promote the upcoming film “Gravity.”

“The first trailer was panic-inducing and blew people away – then we built up to the release. We wanted to take moments from the film, not necessarily trailers,” Tritter explains. “There’s a countdown mechanism on the film site so that people knew when the next piece of content was coming. We did it in 12-hour increments so we’d get worldwide hits over a day and a half. Coverage was extensive and didn’t give away more than a couple minutes of the opening scene.”

It’s also imperative to use sentiment analysis research to affect what the next piece of content will be, Tritter says. He says it’s key that executives understand that research should be taken under consideration within the environment where it’s being used. For example, when a certain actor was recently cast as a beloved superhero, the Twitter universe exploded. When Warner looked at the people who were behind the complaints, it was more casual fans reacting.

“We’re outrageously bullish on Twitter over – and what they’re doing as a platform is incredibly smart – but you will be looking more at extremes,” Tritter says.

Wallenstein asked Tritter to share his thoughts on other new digital platforms.

“You have to do something where you reach a lot of people in their face, or something that’s innovative enough that people will notice,” Tritter says. “We have to make sure there’s an audience there. We partnered with Tumblr on mobile ads for ‘Great Gatsby,’ which got great reach right off the bat. Tumblr is the most sharing of the social networks – people are still re-blogging months later. There’s a permanence on the platform that we love.”

Following Tritter’s insightful keynote conversation, a diverse panel on “Engaging the Digital Consumer in the Web-Enabled Device World” featured James Brennan, Executive Director, TV Marketing Business Development, Sony Pictures Entertainment;  Jennifer Cooper, Director Media & Entertainment Strategy, Adobe; Michael Crooks, Practice Executive, Social Enterprise, Industry Consulting Services, Communications, Media & Entertainment, HP Enterprise Services; and Michele Edelman, Vice President, Marketing for Digital Distribution, Warner Bros.

Moderated by Jay Tucker, Chief Marketing Officer & Head of Programs, Institute for Communication Technology Management, Marshall School of Business, USC, the panel touched on the many ways that big data and social media can be used to influence how to market to the digital consumer.

“Data is now at your fingertips when you need to have something actionable,” Adobe’s Cooper says. “You can say, ‘here is the trend of my engagement – and it correlates to this level of revenue. Making data actionable is a lot more important than being overwhelmed by the sheer bigness of it. Understanding where you’ve been paves the way for where you’re going.”

“It’s the data in, data out philosophy – it’s clean and has a good governance level – you can ultimately retrieve it and have good analytics tools on the backend so you can start analyzing it. The decisions that we make today are based on that,” Edelman says. “What are these people doing with your content, with other people’s content and what else are they doing in the landscape? If done the right way, the outcome is lucrative.”

Edelman says that before spending a lot of money on marketing campaigns, she highly recommends doing a pass at consumers on every property – looking at their age range and timing of social postings. “The most important thing is knowing your consumer,” Edelman says.

HP’s Crooks shares his philosophy of analytics driven transformation. “You need to be able to act on what’s found and take advantage of the market,” Crooks says. “It’s imperative to have context around the big data.”

Keep an eye out for more coverage of the HITS DMA Summit in Monday’s M&E Daily. For more information on HITS, visit www.mesalliance.org/communities/hollywood_it_society.