Social media will increasingly shape Paramount Pictures UK TV ads, says head of digital Katie Khan, as she dismisses threat of Netflix

The social media conversation around film releases will increasingly shape the way Paramount Pictures UK creates its offline advertising as fans dictate the content they want to see, according to the studio’s UK head of digital Katie Khan.

Speaking to The Drum at an event in London, Khan revealed that social media is Paramount UK’s key tool in the marketing box – and an area it has ploughed more budget into – when it comes to engaging its audience, and the studio is listening to trends online before creating TV spots.

As an example, for the Anchorman 2 campaign Paramount UK released two trailers online, which garnered 1m views in the first 12 hours after they went live; after monitoring the social buzz and the quotes that teenage boys were tweeting, Khan decided to use them in the TV spot advertising.

“I monitor social buzz but I also try and inform it with our marketing team, so using social buzz not just to track what people are saying about your film in that live or die arena, but also to show people more of what they want to shape it.”

Paramount UK is also creating different trailers for its online audience compared to cinema goers, something Khan said will only become more prevalent as the digital audience continues to grow.

“Certainly we’re seeing now out of our studio in Los Angeles we’re putting out different trailers in our cinemas than online,” she remarked.

“Anchorman had different jokes in it for the online audience and you’ve also got to think about the screen experience and the amount of people that drop off watching a two and a half minute trailer. You’re going to see more short-form trailers as well so it’s becoming much more of a thing.”

Khan eschewed a threat to the industry from the astronomical rise of streaming services such as Netflix, instead hailing the movement as an opportunity for film studios to have their content seen by more people.

“Netflix has actually added to the revenue of studios,” she said. “Historically you would have the theatrical window then home media, digital and then it will go to TV.

“Now you’re seeing Netflix come into the market and more independent distributors are able to release films knowing that they might make a loss on the theatrical release but down the line they’ll have that revenue coming in that wasn’t previously there.”

Head of entertainment at Yahoo, Michael Pennington, who was also speaking at the event, said that the threat of audiences migrating from the cinema to online is more damaging to cinemas themselves rather than the film industry as a whole.

“If you’re a content creator this is just an additional method to get your content to users. If you’re an exhibitor, a Cineworld or an Odeon, then it’s an interesting challenge.

“But you have to dig a little bit deeper and realise that people who engage with content, and who engage with the wonderful thing that is the moving image on screen, whatever that screen is, are actually people who are interested in purchasing and engaging with something that is being sold by artists and by directors.”

Khan added that Paramount UK and other studios actually have the upper hand on Netflix when it comes to social media because they are able to maintain a steady buzz around releases, compared to the segmented audience that comes with episodic television.

“With Netflix in particular the way they release a whole series at once means that their social buzz ramps up in a frenzy in the run up to it, such as Orange is the New Black, and their whole campaign is pitched around the day that they release them all.

“After that it has to tail off because you don’t have that same experience, everyone is on different episodes and that is something that is quite different to people watching a movie together.”

Khan predicted that the streaming giant or its competitors will release a social app where viewers can talk to strangers who are watching the same episode as them at the same time to enjoy a shared experience.

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