Why Open Road Films has Shunned TV Ads for ‘All I See is You’

October is a competitive time at the cinema, with the last of the big summer releases still trickling through while the award-season contenders also start to filter in. Open Road Films, for the release of its new feature ‘All I See Is You’, has opted for a 100 percent digital ad campaign to reach its audience, working with Tremor Video DSP to target TV watchers on the second screen. The strategy seems particularly unusual considering that Open Road wants to target audiences of specific TV shows, but the company is convinced that mobile is the way forward for its new release.

Yvonne Abt, SVP media at Open Road Films outlined three reasons to VAN for the unorthodox strategy. Firstly, the film is a mix of thriller and arthouse most likely to appeal to quite specific audiences. Given that October is a busy month in cinemas, Open Road felt its ad dollars would be most efficiently spent on ads targeted towards the right people; the mass reach of TV is not as useful for a niche film competing against other films with broader appeal. Digital was therefore Open Road’s choice thanks to its better targeting abilities, but also due to ‘All I See Is You’ star Blake Lively’s online presence. “She has one of the biggest social footprints of any actress, so we wanted to leverage her main platform, which is digital, to make sure we were speaking to her fans as well,” said Abt.

Open Road and Tremor see broader advantages to mobile targeting as well. Previous campaigns using the same mobile-centric strategy have seen a 17 percent lift in cinema turnout for films, and mobile can reach TV-watchers prone to playing with their phones during TV ad-breaks. Tremor finds its spikes in ad delivery correlate with TV ad breaks, and data from Alphonso, Tremor’s data provider, shows that brand recall for TV ads is 40 percent when it’s the only screen in the room, but drops to just 4 percent when audiences use other devices at the same time. Using a mobile-connected ACR approach, rather than just inserting ads into the ad break itself, also allows Tremor and Open Road to also target cord cutters watching over OTT platforms, especially those watching on SVOD services which have no ad inventory at all.

Given the niche appeal of the film, Open Road’s aim was to target audiences of specific TV shows which they felt had a similar appeal to ‘All I See Is You’. After identifying the key selling points of the movie, the company looked for TV shows with similar appeal, and created around 20 pieces of creative customised to these shows. Abt explained how the creative drew parallels between the TV show and the film: “If you like Scandal, let me show you how this film also presents a flawed heroine, but if you like Stranger Things, let me show you how this film also has spookiness and intrigue.” The ads feature a video trailer for the films which then resolves into a call to action and a description of the film designed to maximise resonance with that particular viewer, customised for different formats by Tremor’s creative team.

This strategy obviously requires a link between an individual’s mobile and the content on their TV, for which Tremor uses Alphonso’s automatic content recognition (ACR) software. Alphonso’s tech is embedded in a number of apps that people use in the living room, which allows it to collect ambient sounds and, matching what it hears with data from Alphonso’s database, figure out what an individual is watching. Alphonso says it collects data from 34 million households across the US. This allows Tremor to conduct one-to-one deterministic targeting which capitalises on the shift of TV audiences attentions to their phone during ad breaks, as Tremor Video DSP CMO Abbey Thomas explained, “we can deliver an ad with zero latency based on what that person is viewing.”

One of the other benefits of Alphonso’s ACR is that it allows a level of measurement of success of the ads, as those mobile devices can register when an individual has gone into the cinema and watched the film that was advertised. Open Road and Tremor are confident that their targeted, TV-free campaign for ‘All I See Is You’ will pay off in the box office, but despite all the advantages of mobile re-targeting, this isn’t a strategy they’ll be using often. The reasons for running a completely TV-ad free campaign were “quite specific to this film” according to Abt; the reach of TV ads would still hold value for most other film campaigns and warrant at least some TV advertising.

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