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Entertainment & Artificial Intelligence: How to boost cinema audiences without an Oscar

We’re in the thick of awards season, the BAFTAs just behind us and the Oscars looming. While nominated films always receive plenty of attention, the hundreds of films released each year need to find equally powerful ways to generate interest and engagement from their audiences.

From Hal 9000 in 2001 Space Odyssey to C-3PO in Star Wars, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has always proved popular in the film industry, but it’s not always considered within an advertising context. In fact, it’s a highly effective way for entertainment brands to reach their audiences.

AI improves campaign results and works on an impression level, analysing data to determine the likelihood of a particular advert generating a desired outcome for each ad call. It then predicts which advert is most likely to deliver the strongest result and serves the ad.

Cinema audiences are often diverse, after all there’s no accounting for taste. It’s extremely important to target the right audiences with the right trailer if a campaign is going to be successful, and this is not always achieved with conventional targeting.

For example, an ad call comes through and is identified as being from a woman aged 18-34. With traditional targeting and prevailing gender stereotypes in place, she may be targeted with an ad for a rom-com as she fits a certain demographic. But what if the woman in question cannot stand rom-coms and is actually a fan of blood-curdling horror? She won’t interact with the ad served and the impression is wasted.

With AI in place far more factors than the demographic of the user are considered. It will analyse many layers of data including information from the app or site she’s using, which ads she’s interacted with before or which sites she visits frequently, amongst others.

The technology considers which characteristics from the advert features best align with her past behaviour: maybe it includes rich media elements which she has preferred in the past, maybe she interacts with native ads more often than other formats. Information from hundreds of thousands of data points is analysed in milliseconds to serve the user with the most relevant advert. In this case our user wouldn’t be served a rom-com trailer but an ad for the next slasher film. And she’s interested in the content so engages with it.

As well as helping deliver the right advert, AI can also promote campaigns based on real-time information. This can be particularly good at driving footfall in cinemas for entertainment clients.

For example, if it’s 11am on a Saturday morning and it’s 25 degrees and sunny outside, there is very little point in using that ad call to deliver an ad for the cinema. People aren’t likely to engage with that kind of content; the AI will register low engagement rates and reduce the circulation of that ad. If by 2pm rain sets in, users are going to be more interested in cinema trailers; AI will register the renewed engagement and begin to serve more of these ads. Without AI it is impossible to be this agile with optimisation.

While it’s often easiest to describe how AI works anecdotally, hard data proves its use. Results from 17 mobile video advertising campaigns run for entertainment brands since the start of this year show an average uplift of 108 per cent on CTR and VCR, when AI was implemented on the campaign. One example (which originally ran without AI, on the advertiser’s request) achieved an average of 2.9 per cent CTR. Once AI was incorporated into the campaign the CTR increased dramatically, delivering nine per cent CTR after four days of running, an increase of 221 per cent. By precisely targeting the adverts to each environment, time and user, ads are engaged with more frequently, improving value and results for advertisers.

While every studio would love their productions to command attention thanks to their award-winning cast and crew, for the vast majority of films the audience must be attracted through promotional campaigns. By implementing AI entertainment brands can not only achieve excellent results on paper, but effectively reach cinema-goers at the right time and place with ads for the films they’re going to love.

Stephen Upstone is the chief execitive of Loop Me

Stephen Upstone

With 18 years’ experience working in adtech, of which 10 have been in the mobile industry, Upstone is currently chairman of the UK Mobile Marketing Association.

Working as part of the senior management team that listed Velti on the Nasdaq in 2011, he went on to found LoopMe in 2012 to meet demand for a premium mobile video solution in the market.

Today the demand-side platform reaches 1.25 billion users worldwide.

All by Stephen