Content Marketers Talk About Balancing Art and Automation

In a world flooded with marketing messages and entertainment options, enticing consumers to experience new movie titles at the multiplex is no easy task. And that was before pandemic conditions made everything about going to the theater that much more complicated.

“Now there’s an extra step,” said Universal Pictures chief marketing officer Michael Moses. “We have to convince them to to go in the cinema, then we have to convince them to choose our film.”

Moïse spoke on Tuesday afternoon as part of Variety‘s Entertainment Marketing Summit, presented by Deloitte, held at NeueHouse Hollywood. The one-day in-person event brought together marketers and executives from across the content and distribution spectrum.

The lively discussion on the state of content marketing featured Josh Greenstein, President of Sony Motion Pictures Group, and Ukonwa Ojo, CMO of Amazon Prime and Amazon Studios, and was moderated by Claudia Eller, Variety Chief Editor. Eller pressed the trio on how the challenge of getting consumers to take action has changed in recent years.

Ojo agreed with Moses and Greenstein that pandemic conditions and social upheaval have dramatically changed the game.

“As crazy as the world has gotten, the world actually needs our industry,” Ojo said. “That’s what they get away with after watching the news.”

The content boom of the past decade has accentuated the age-old challenge of cutting through clutter to touch the hearts and minds of consumers. But with the market as a whole more crowded than ever, Greenstein said there are definite benefits to releasing 21st century movies.

“Reaching people directly is so much easier in terms of data and feedback,” Greenstein said. “Before, you put the trailer and you put a poster. And you basically lived and died because of your TV campaign.

The trio of marketers agreed that the complexity of marketing campaigns these days means the process starts much earlier.

“Now we start marketing when a movie is lit,” Greenstein said.

Eller pressed Ojo on Amazon’s plans for a blockbuster in September when he lifts the curtain on his highly anticipated Tolkien TV take on ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power’ – plus the first season of ‘Thursday Night. Football” being exclusive to the Amazon platform.

One challenge Amazon likes to tackle is how to use marketing and distribution to improve the viewing experience.

With the NFL, “we’re going to make sure the launch is very high. We bring technology to it that will allow (viewers) to gamify in a different way. They have access to stats that they never had before,” Ojo said.

As for “LOTR”, Ojo called it “an eight-hour film – truly epic in its storytelling and production.”

Amazon is gearing up to unveil what Ojo called a “refresh” to the Prime platform over the summer in preparation for the company’s big fall. With so much content on the platform, Ojo said running Amazon Prime is a constant balancing act of relying on algorithms to help drive business in concert with the craftsmanship of development of marketing messages.

“We want it to feel like it’s a personalized experience for every customer,” Ojo said. “Some of it has to do with humanity and some with automation. You’ll see us trying to find that balance – how much do we do with art and how much do we do with automation so that every customer feels like this (platform) was created just for me. »

Moses noted that projects at the scale of “LOTR” create their own kind of momentum that marketers can build on. Universal is leaning into that approach with plans for director Jordan Peele’s upcoming “Nope.”

“There comes a time when the filmmaker alone or the intellectual property alone counts as a reason to go there,” Moses said.

That said, the content has to be worthwhile, regardless of the name above the title. “The good things will separate from the not so good,” Moses said.

(Photo : Variety(Claudia Eller, Sony’s Josh Greenstein, Amazon’s Ukonwa Ojo and Universal’s Michael Moses)

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