Alibaba develops big data film marketing platform

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 17, 2019
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Film executives and media representatives exchange their views on film marketing at a subforum of "Insight & Momentum: Word-of-mouth momentum for films" held in Shanghai on June 15, 2019. [Photo/]

At the forum held on the opening day of the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival, the executives of Alibaba Pictures shared that the company has integrated its resources and big data into a convenient and powerful marketing platform for China's film industry.

The platform, named Beacon, was launched in April 2018 at the Beijing International Film Festival. Li Jie, senior vice president of Alibaba Pictures and CEO of Alibaba's ticketing app Taopiaopiao under China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, said at the festival's subforum of "Insight & Momentum: Word-of-mouth momentum for films" that after one year of development and exploration, Beacon has gone from a concept to effective practices, becoming a new marketing and promotion infrastructure tool used by a wide range of film producers and distributors. 

Yuan Juan, general manager of Beacon, explained that the platform's mission is to create the easiest marketing option for film industry clients. According to her, since the establishment of the platform, they have served 176 film projects and 109 clients. They have held 82 test screenings, created 210 custom-made service reports and 117 market observation reports, and influenced 320 million film viewers' decisions. Their most successful cases include "Dying To Survive," "Hello Mr. Billionaire," "Green Book," and "Capharnaum."

Li Jie, senior vice president of Alibaba Pictures and CEO of Alibaba's ticketing app Taopiaopiao, speaks at a subforum of "Insight & Momentum: Word-of-mouth momentum for films" held at the 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival, June 15, 2019. [Photo/]

Take "Capharnaum" for example, Road Pictures CEO Cai Gongming, who imported the critically-acclaimed "Capharnaum" into the Chinese market, said Beacon's data helped them find out that they can market the film alongside the blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame" rather than escaping the season early this year because both films attract different target audience. Moreover, "Capharnaum" already has a great word-of-mouth marketing campaign, high critic ratings, and huge support from female viewers. The film eventually grossed more than 373 million yuan ($53.86 million) at box offices, exceeding everyone's expectations. 

Beacon, the all-in-one solution for maximizing efficiencies in film advertising, performance monitoring, and consumer metrics, now has development plans for the next three years. Based on the big data collected from Alibaba's platforms, including the ticketing app Taopiaopiao and video site Youku Tudou, it can locate the most accurate targeted audience, and it can even monitor how long you watch a film trailer before you quit, which provides valuable information for film studios, so they can analyze and improve their promotional materials, said Li Jie.

Li added that he doesn't think a bad film can get good box office results nowadays as the online word-of-mouth and internet ratings have changed audiences' choices and cinema bosses' showing dates arrangements. A bad film may earn some sizable box office income in the beginning due to its marketing hype, but that won't last for long. But he also believes an effective marketing campaign for a good film will help multiply its box office results. 

Wang Yibing, CEO of the Dirty Monkey Studios, Liu Ruifang, CEO of the Joy Leader Culture and Communication, and many film executives later at a subforum exchanged their views on the effects and influences from audiences' word-of-mouth. They recognize that the Beacon platform is a great marketing tool for their films while seeking for future collaborations with Beacon and Alibaba.

The 22nd Shanghai International Film Festival will run from June 15 to 24, 2019.

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