Disrupting Hollywood Paradigms with Analytics

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On April 4th, we had the pleasure of hosting Matt Marolda, Chief Analytics Officer with Legendary Entertainment at the monthly L.A. Marketing Analytics Group.  The event is hosted by eSage Group.

At our event, Matt presented on Disrupting Hollywood Paradigms with Analytics.  We were treated with some very interesting and thought provoking innovations that Matt and his team at Legendary Entertainment are working on to uncover powerful insights about mainstream box office audiences in the US and worldwide.  This insightful information helps inform marketing tactics and overall production investment strategies.

side bar for mayMatt and his Applied Analytics team are tasked with informing several key components of the movie making and marketing process.

The following is a list of the key discussion points and learnings from Matt’s presentation.

  • Informing Creative: Evaluate movie concepts, cast, themes and fan base long before a single dollar is spent on movie production.
  • Transforming Marketing: Use analytics to identify, understand, reach, and persuade individuals to watch a particular movie.
  • Understanding People, Content, Social and Conversation: Create a virtuous feedback loop where these four inputs are integrated into the overall marketing process to provide a continuously improving understanding of your audience over time.
  • Identify Varying Degrees of Persuadable People: Identify three clusters of persuadable personas with varying degrees of predictability with regards to convincing them to attend a particular movie.
  • Innovative Experimentation that Yields Big Wins: Movies that aren’t positively received in one part of the world may perform well in other regions. Use experimentation to test market acceptance of a particular movie in other regions before making further marketing investments.

Read on to hear more about how Matt and his team are shaking apart the old Hollywood Paradigms and creating a truly data-driven movie making environment at Legendary.


Full Article


Olegendary grey logo.pngn April 4th, at the monthly L.A. Marketing Analytics Group which is hosted by eSage Group, we had the pleasure of hosting Matt Marolda, Chief Analytics Officer at Legendary Entertainment. At the event, Matt presented on Disrupting Hollywood Paradigms with Analytics and we were treated with some very interesting and thought provoking innovations that Matt and his team are working on at Legendary to uncover insights about the mainstream box office audience in the US and worldwide.

It is known that Hollywood has many marketing paradigms that have been well entrenched for decades, some good, others beg to be disrupted. One of those stale marketing tenets that are being reevaluated and shifted to something more useful is how Hollywood has been segmenting the market using the often cited four quadrants: by male, female, over 25, and under 25; totaling 4 groups of 80 million people in the US, which is probably one of the crudest ways to look at the marketplace. Legendary is changing this old practice by looking at ways to see an audience in a much more granular way by micro segmenting this model into 80 million groups of 4, give or take – which seems daunting. But if you consider the top down leadership effort at Legendary to drive a culture of data driven marketing, it becomes more realistic. Two key efforts at Legendary that Matt and his team have been driving include Informing Creative and Transforming Marketing through applied analytics.

Informing Creative: All movie studios must decide on what creative movie concept, cast, and theme should be green-lighted, and which fan base should be targeted long before a single dollar is spent on making the movie. For much of the entertainment industry’s history scripts have been written and submitted, discussed and debated, picked up and dropped. This process includes top level executives deciding on whether the movie is going to be viable, profitable, and on brand for the studio.

Many of those decisions in the past were made by gut instinct, and then hope, prayer, chanting and the burning of incense was involved (at least in my version of this). With the advent of data collection and analytics being injected into the creative decision process, decision makers are shifting to a more data-driven approach when deciding to make a film. Present day studio brass at Legendary are now utilizing analytics (by way of Matt’s Applied Analytics Team) to evaluate movie concepts, the cast, screen fans ahead of time, test the theme, and they even look at sequel viability in order to inform the creative process and uncover the potential ROI in a very predictive way. This includes looking deeply at People, Content, Social and Conversation which I’ll talk more about in a bit. Legendary Entertainment CEO and visionary, Thomas Tull sought a better way when he launched the company in 2000.  As of 2017 Tull is no longer CEO, but his decision to hire Matt Marolda in 2013 to take Money Ball to Hollywood remains firmly intact.

Transform Marketing: Legendary shifted to an internal analytics team tasked with altering the marketing process from an older model sadly referred to as spray and pray where marketing dollars are spent in volume to reach all people with the hope that they will show up at box office. The paradigm shift is towards a more targeted approach that seeks to identify, understand, reach, and persuade individuals. Beyond that goal is the effort to reduce marketing spend by 20% through the strategic targeting of specific audience segments. That reduction in marketing spend directly affects the bottom line of movies on a global scale. Legendary is doing this is by maintaining an analytics team comprised of three groups: The Quantitative Group, The Development Group and the Delivery Group.

It’s the Quantitative team’s job to tap tons of data and apply it to the movie making and marketing processes directly using analytics. The Development team is tasked with integrating complex data feeds rapidly, turning the models of the Quant team into software, building high speed querying to allow iteration and refinement, and launching media feeds through API’s.  Finally, it is the Delivery team’s job to execute media buys on all digital platforms, where for Legendary, media agencies were unable to deliver at the speed and scale that is required to be competitive in this fast-moving effort to turn insights into marketing action that targets segments uncovered earlier in this process.

Successful marketing analytics teams everywhere strive to experiment, learn, “fail” fast, and reiterate the ongoing process in an unending feedback loop. This agile approach to data driven marketing continues to prove that trying things that might have failed in the past, or those that weren’t ever tried, can still yield big wins. This “panning for gold” approach either yields an answer confirming that one consumer messaging approach or another did not work, or in other cases it is uncovering novel and successful messaging that would not have been conceived of otherwise. Therein lies the paradigm shift from overspending and gut instinct marketing on a grand scale, to the highly targeted and strategic approach that not only saves marketing dollars, but imparts analytics that allow organizations to make their current marketing spend far more productive.

side bar for mayPeople, Content, Social & Conversation Looking at how competitive and successful movie companies like Legendary Entertainment approach data collection and the insights that are surfaced is a great example of how to stay competitive in any marketplace. This innovative approach to analytics is apparent in Matt’s Applied Analytics team who uses a virtuous cycle where four specific areas of data are integrated in unique ways. They collect and analyze information on People, Social, Content, and Conversation.

 

  • People Information: Includes 1.5 billion email addresses, 200 million households with PII (Personally Identifiable information) and hundreds of other attributes per person sourced from a multitude of available data. The Applied Analytics team at Legendary has curated this data set internally to enable them to identify, reach, understand, and persuade people.
  • Content Information: Includes box office data by individual theater for all movies from 2007, all US based advertising since 2007, meta data by second for movies from the 80’s to present day that identify actors in each scene, topic of conversation, tone & tenor of background music. These pieces of information are all crucial for comp’ing and modeling in the property evaluation process – which determines properties to buy, which movies to make, and which actors will be in them.
  • Social Media Information: Includes feeds from 500 million Twitter profiles and billions of tweets, 100 million Facebook profiles, all of Reddit, all of Wikipedia, plus thousands of News Sites and Blogs are scoured, collected and stored for insights.
  • Conversation Information: Includes social interactions by geography, plus extensive analysis on text and images using traditional and innovative techniques to help inform movie makers and marketers. This data helps Legendary understand current trends, what people are saying about particular movies along with their associated sentiment.

Using tools to analyze People, Content, Social and Conversation have helped Legendary build audience profiles and create hundreds of microsegments, identify key persuadable points and produce detailed, actionable insights. Acting on this data by matching profiles to key aspects of a movie surfaced from movie meta data informs Legendary on what movie to promote and to which persuadable audience. Changes of intent are also measured and creative actionable insights emerge at a rate of over 50 per movie, per week. This analytics ecosystem which integrates data, analytics, and campaigns, along with deep API integration allows for scale execution, sophisticated reporting and continual optimization.

Varying Degrees of Persuadable People: When Trying to identify persuadable sets of personas, Legendary looks at three clusters of people who hold varying degrees of predictability with respect to the ability to convince them to attend a particular movie.

First, there are folks that have been engaging with a property since childhood. Movies like Godzilla, King Kong and Warcraft have a historically long-standing culture of followers. Legendary seeks to turn those people into active evangelists. Marketing to them does not require a high-dollar spend because of their inherent affinity for the subject matter. Simply advertising key points like hints at trailers to be dropped and the dates of movie release are all that this group needs. The marketing effort is just to “stoke the flame” for this group.

Another cluster of people is identified as the “your mom” segment.  With this segment Legendary understands that there are just certain movies that they will not attend.  So there is no need to spend marketing dollars on this group when marketing a certain genre of movies.  Legendary will save these marketing dollars for other groups that are more apt to engage.

The third identifiable cluster is defined as the “people in the middle.” This group, when served the right creative at the right time will change their mind and their opinion of the film. In May of 2014 Legendary ran some testing on the Godzilla release. They found, unexpectedly that women ages 24 to 36 were identified as persuadable. This was a key insight. Legendary didn’t think this segment would be a viable target when they were whiteboarding their marketing effort. They then used analytics to design the movie trailer through insights uncovered about this new segment. The insights uncovered showed them that they needed to emphasize the conspiracy theory in the Godzilla plot rather than the monster destroying the city. They also knew to emphasize Bryan Cranston who was fresh off Breaking Bad. The trailer they created resonated with women and they subsequently launched an extensive marketing campaign around this knowledge, while continuing to further optimize their marketing for these segments.  Uncovering surprising and unexplainable segments like this has proven to be extremely valuable.  Establishing a culture of experimentation and building feedback loops into your strategy allows for these kinds of powerful insights.  Once a new segment is identified, predictive models are built to identify who is likely to engage with particular content.  With propensity scores, Legendary can zero in on targets as they get closer to the release, whereas other studios tend to get more panicked and market to a broader audience.  Legendary can go narrower, targeting only the specific people they think will act to a particular marketing piece.  When thinking of the world on a more CPM basis this is a better way to go.  Plus, this can all be done at scale.  This same process works for blockbuster films or much smaller projects, with both receiving lift.  With this lather, rinse and repeat methodology, these efforts all continue to inform and allow for continual optimization. Data is collected on an ongoing basis and appended back into the database, so the system continuously learns what approaches work and which don’t.  The system is continuously getting smarter and providing ever greater ROI over time.

A Third Paradigm Shift: A third and final example of how Legendary is disrupting the old Hollywood paradigms can be seen in their effort around the release of Warcraft. The movie was tested in China, with data being collected on 8 different versions of the movie with hundreds of test subjects using biometric Fitbit-like devices to track heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and more. Also, iPad-like devices were used to capture facial expressions during the viewings.  These experiments provided information on how viewers were engaged with the movie in several ways.

This data ultimately revealed that a movie that was “panned” by the critics and dubbed awful in the United States would in fact resonate well with the Chinese audience.  The movie was launched globally and was a box office success in China grossing over $220 million.  This was a record in this geo and the movie ended up with total global revenue of over $433 million.

In Closing:  The analytics concepts being harnessed by the team at Legendary are innovative and cutting edge and might just prove to Hollywood once and for all that analytics are here to stay and not just a passing fad as some have said (as they were packing up their belongings and seeking a new line of work).  Those of us who seek deeper knowledge of our customers and processes in business know that if you aren’t competing with analytics, you’re not competition.

Many of the efforts at Legendary are reminiscent of the work we do at eSage Group. For large entertainment companies and several other verticals, we too help our customers obtain deeper insights through data integration and analytics. If your marketing organization is looking to migrate from the Spray and Pray digital marketing approach to a modern and efficient Marketing BI/Analytics infrastructure, we at eSage Group can assist in that process in a myriad of ways.  We help our clients integrate data from a multitude of various sales, marketing, partner and social channels, no matter the format of the data or the system it’s sourced from.  We design and build Marketing Analytics Data Warehouses, Data Lakes, Data Marts and connect newly integrated data to all your favorite reporting and analytics tools.  We are equally comfortable with on-prem and cloud based traditional data warehouse technologies such as Microsoft SQL Server, as well as most of the modern Big Data/Hadoop based platforms.

Our goal at eSage Group is to assure that marketing teams are obtaining useful and highly actionable insights from all internal and externally collected sales and marketing data. For more information on eSage Group and how we help our clients, please visit our website or email me directly.

Get Marketing Insights Fast Without a Data Hostage Crisis

shutterstock_210349615The landscape for marketing analytics solutions is more cluttered than ever with multiple options and approaches for marketing departments to consider.  One option that we are seeing more and more of is a seductive offering that promises a simple, fast, nearly turnkey approach to getting analysis and insight from your growing stacks of data.  The offer is this: a vendor will import your data to their systems, do analysis on it with their in-house experts, and come back to you with insights that will help you run your business better.

No doubt, this is an attractive offer if you are like many marketing organizations, struggling to get internal resources to help consolidate data and do the analysis required to get you the insights you need.   Business Intelligence resources are hard to find in your company, the data holders in IT are backlogged and short staffed.  You need insights now to help engage and sell to your customers and are done waiting on internal resources so why not go this route?  While likely a quick, tactical solution that will get you answers in the near term, there are several major drawbacks to this solution as a longer term strategy.

Market leading organizations know that their data is a significant asset that, when used well, can help them better understand and engage their customers, anticipate customer needs, cross sell, upsell, and stay ahead of the competition. As part of making data a core competency, your organization has to do the hard work to intimately know its data, its strengths, its shortcomings, and understand what it can tell you about your business.  That intimate understanding of data only comes from digging in, “doing the homework,” investing in the infrastructure and skillsets to excel at business intelligence inside the organization.  Organizations that have this kind of understanding of their data are continually improving the quality of data in their organization and building the kind of sustainable internal BI capability that actually adds significantly to the value and sustainability of the company.  C-suite, take note!

If you outsource that knowledge, you may get the answers you seek fast, but you do not get the sustainable, growing capability in-house that becomes a core differentiator for your company and helps you lead the market. datahostagecalloutI’m amazed when I hear this but it is very common practice. What if your vendor company goes out of business, gets acquired, changes business models or you decide to change vendors?  Your vendor is holding your data hostage.  What are you left with then?  All the money you spent bought you yesterday’s insights but you have no investment or capability towards the future.   Your team has none of the knowledge or infrastructure to sustain and continue to grow that flow of business intelligence that is critical to serving your customers and staying ahead of your competition.   You are back to zero.

Fair enough you say, but damn it, I still need insights now and I can’t wait any longer.  Tactical and non-sustainable is better than nothing right?  Well consider that it doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” approach.  There is a way to get fast and sustainable.  You can start with a partner who gets you to the critical insights you need now, but is doing it on your systems, building out infrastructure you own (be it in the cloud on your behalf or on premises), and is helping mentor your team members along the way.  You may spend a little more along the way to do this, but in this approach you are investing, not just paying a monthly fee with no incremental addition of value to your company.  Very quickly you will be way ahead.

If the vendor you pick, in this case, goes out of business, moves on, or you decide to part ways, there may be some short term pain, but you own the assets, data, and business logic they built and you have team members who have been working directly with the technology and data, “doing the homework”, and can keep you moving forward.  Nobody has your data held hostage.

The right choice for a vendor should:

  • Have deep experience utilizing the cloud to get you up and running fast, with limited need for hardware purchase and support.  The cloud is great but make sure it is your, cloud, not someone else’s.
  • Work with you to understand your unique needs, data, internal team skills and challenges, and creates a roadmap to Business Intelligence ROI internally.
  • Provide all the senior BI talent you need now to get answers fast, but also help you grow that skill in house, with training, new employee interviewing and ongoing mentoring.  They need to have a demonstrated understanding that knowledge transition to your team is part of the deliverable and be committed to providing it.

Pick a partner who can help you avoid having your data taken hostage, while getting you the insights and ROI you need fast!

Written by Duane Bedard, eSage Group President and Co-Founder

 

 

Executive Evening Out with eSage Group and Microsoft

On March 10th, eSage Group held its first Executive Evening Out at the exclusive Rainier Club in Downtown Seattle.  The event was sponsored by Microsoft Advanced Analytics.

15 Seattle area executives, from the likes of Starbucks, Trupanion, Allrecipes, Alaska Air, Disney and their guests joined us for a short presentation by Shish Shridhar, Worldwide Director for Business Intelligence Solutions – Retail for Microsoft, then sat down to a 5 course meal with wine pairings presented by The Rainier Club sommelier.

Microsoft has a powerful offering, from Azure Machine Learning, Cortana Analytics Suite, SQL 2016 and PowerBI. It was definitely a learning experience along with a wonderful meal and wines.

 

A Year in Review – LA and Seattle MeetUps

It was quite a year for both the LA and Seattle Marketing Analytic MeetUps! We had terrific speakers share on current topics! In LA, we had Nevious Osborne of Beats by Dre talking effective dashboards, Peter Taylor of Belkin talking IoT analytics and Punnoose Isaac of Edmunds.com talking on how to build an analytics infrastructure, just to name a few!  Check out the full list here.

Not to be outdone, Seattle had Jeremy Boore of Expedia talk Storytelling and Analytics, Chris Proser of Adobe talk about going beyond A/B testing, Kyle Wieranga of Costco talk on moving from Predictive to Prescriptive Analytics, Shish Shirdar from Microsoft talk Machine Learning, and Ed Mabanglo from Nordstrom talk time-to-event analysis to measure customer tenure. Check out the full list here.

2016 is proving to be great with Tania Massad from Mattel presenting in LA and Brian Behuin from Alaska Air presenting in Seattle.

Make sure to become a member for the Seattle and/or LA Marketing Analytic MeetUps to receive notices of upcoming events!

 

 

 

The Shish List – Big Data at MarketMix

This article was posted by Shish Shirhar, Global Director of Big Data, Retail. He was one of our Making Big Data Smart Data panelists for last week’s PSAMA MarketMix.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/shishirs/archive/2014/03/27/bigdata-at-marketmix.aspx0312_MarketMix1_thumb_13BAE14D

Thanks to Duane Bedard & Tina Munro of eSageGroup, I participated in a panel discussion at MarketMix with the brilliant Data Scientists: Jason Gowans of Nordstrom and Jon Francis of Nike. Duane Bedard did an excellent job of moderating the conversation.  I love his skill of condensing everything we said to short soundbytes that were ready to go on twitter 🙂 , and they did with hashtag #MarketMix.

Jon Francis shared interesting insights on the work he does on the ecommerce business at Nike. Jason Gowans runs the Nordstrom Data Lab and shared his perspectives on what it takes to walk the thin line between providing great customer experience through personalization and becoming “creepy”. We discussed where Big Data has proven value and where it has disappointed; talked about how Marketers can benefit from Big Data Analytics and what kind of data is useful for enhancing insights.

I spoke with several people in the audience after the session and one of the questions that stood out was: “How can we start small, working with multiple data sources?” My recommendation is to have a look at a tool that you most likely already have: Excel. Excel 2013 has some interesting new capabilities with PowerBI. The democratization of data and the democratization of tools is empowering everyone to get started working with multiple datasets, combine them and create great visualizations to derive insights. Check out some of the examples from my previous blog posts:

  1. Analyzing Seattle 911 Data using PowerBI
  2. Using Power Map to Analyze Public Retailer Data
  3. Visualizing Wal-mart
  4. Lets visualize Beer because it’s 5 pm somewhere
  5. How To: Visualize Real Time Flight Data & Correlate with Local Airport Weather

REGISTER NOW! September 12th Cross-Channel Engagement Panel in LA

Register

Use the Promo Code ESAGEVIP to save 35%!

Today as marketers, we are faced with the challenge of allocating marketing spend across more channels than ever before – social, web, TV, print, mobile, digital advertising, email, etc.
  • How do we effectively evaluate the relevancy of a channel to our target customer?
  • How do we measure what channels will give us the biggest bang for our buck?
  • How can you influence the customer journey both on and off-line?
  • How do you attribute sales?
On September 12th, enjoy an evening of learning and lively discussion with industry experts including:

Doug BaraschUniversal Music Group
Sr. Director of Digital Marketing and Strategy

Joshua ColeUniversal Studios
VP of Marketing and e-Commerce

Sarah JohnsonNestle USA
Manager of Multi-Brand Scale Marketing

Moderator will be Duane BedardeSage Group
Founder & President

             
Date: September 12, 2013
Time: 6:30pm-9:30pm
Where: CAP Theatre map
13752 Ventura Blvd
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
Cost: $35 for Members
$45 for Non-Members
$50 at Door
Cost includes entrance to event, light appetizers,
and beverages
Register now
Use the Promo Code ESAGEVIP to save 35%!
       

Insights into Big Data and Marketing

Recently, I came across an article by Michael Brenner, VP of Marketing and Content Strategy for SAquestionP and Forbes contributing author. He highlights that to derive value from Big Data, make sure that you start with a set up well thought out questions. He also refers to some tips that eSage Group’s own Dean Bedard wrote in a prior Information Management article about the same subject.

Check out Michael’s article here: http://bit.ly/13Iapji