February 27, 2019

Amazon’s IMDb and Google’s YouTube See Green from Film Studios Contending for Oscar Gold

Hollywood kept Netflix at bay for at least one more year with an Academy Award for Green Book. However, the embrace of digital was nearly ubiquitous among studios on far smaller screens—online advertising. According to data provider Pathmatics, this year’s Best Picture nominees spent more than $27 million on digital display and video advertising in an effort to woo audiences to theaters. Much of the inventory was purchased directly from a small group of publishers.

Universal Pictures has spent more than $2 million on digital advertising to promote its award-winning Green Book. The studio invested nearly half of its budget in a direct buy with IMDb, which is owned by Amazon. Green Book paired high-impact homepage takeovers with in-unit video ads and static banners. IMDb also ranked as the top recipient of digital ad dollars for Annapurna Picture’s Vice and Disney’s Black Panther.

“Digital channels give entertainment marketers a host of attractive options for promoting content to niche audiences,” said Scott Ensign, VP, Digital Media, Butler/Till. “As media becomes more addressable, advertisers have the opportunity to create and personalize campaigns that speak to very specific audiences in context to influence online and offline behaviors.”

In 2016, Butler/Till helped an advertiser use the Academy Awards to launch a TV service in new markets. Local spot TV buys built mass-market reach while a digital ad campaign surrounded movie enthusiasts with video and social content that pushed engagement beyond TV spots. The entire campaign spanned pre-, during-, and post-show activity. 

“In our experience, video helps advertisers deepen the connection between consumers and brands,” said Kelly Kilpatrick, Account Supervisor, Butler/Till. “Past campaign results show how video heightens the awareness of TV advertising and ultimately moves people closer to purchase.”

Video was especially important for films with strong musical performances. 20th Century Fox film Bohemian Rhapsody and Warner Bros. filmA Star Is Born were among the heaviest spenders on Google’s YouTube. The Freddie Mercury biopic invested more than $2.3 million with YouTube–more than 67 percent of its total digital ad buy. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper were also featured prominently in an ad buy with Vudu, a streaming service owned by Walmart.

Roma, a Netflix film, and Fox Searchlight Pictures’ The Favourite opted for display advertising reflective of their award aspirations. Digital buys concentrated heavily with trade journals and entertainment sites such as Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Sunday night TV ratings for the 2019 Oscars were up slightly with a net gain of 3.1 million viewers over 2018. Still, Variety reported the 2019 Oscars drew the second-smallest audience in the show’s telecast history.

For more information about the use of digital advertising to earn awareness from tent-pole events, please contact Amanda DeVito at adevito@butlertill.com.

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