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New Technologies Essay

To what extent has the internet played a significant role in the marketing and exchange of media products in the area you have studied?


Towards the end of the 1890s, motion picture cameras were invented and film production companies began to surface. A key aspect to releasing a film is raising awareness of the film through marketing and advertisement. In the early stages of film there was no internet and so films were marketed through physical items such as posters, trailers before viewings of other films at the cinema and word of mouth. Exchange and distribution of film was carried out by sending huge reels of film around the country; this was difficult, unreliable and expensive. If people wanted to see a film, they had to visit the cinema. However, marketing and exchange of films changed entirely due to the invention of the internet. This new technology has triggered many new forms of marketing and exchange and has played a significant role in the industry for better and for worse…

With the invention of the internet, soon came the introduction of various social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The easiest and most efficient way to access large numbers of users would be via social media.  The aim for marketing a film is to get the word out about the film to as many people as possible and so this is a perfect way for films to receive advertisement. For the independent film, ‘A Field In England’, the director Ben Wheatley used his 12,000 followers on the social media account of Twitter in order to raise awareness regarding the release of the film. An advantage of this is also that Wheatley was directly marketing towards the target audience of the film as the people following him on Twitter would have been fans of his work. This is a more direct way of marketing in comparison to in the past when posters around the streets were aimed at everyone passing by. Due to the worldwide, ever increasing use of the internet and social media, all people involved within the film could use their social media accounts in order to create a buzz surrounding the film. On the Friday of the release, ‘A Field In England’ was trending at number one on Twitter which contributed to the fact that social media was the primary source of awareness with 54% of the under 35 year old category and 35% of the over 35 year olds saying this is how they came across the film and it’s innovative release method. On the 23rd of March 2016, Ricky Gervais debuted the first official trailer for the film ‘Special Correspondents’ on his Twitter account. This meant that millions of people from all over the world could have access to the trailer at any moment in time. In comparison to this, before the internet, trailers may have been shown in cinemas before other films; this meant that there was a limited amount of people being able to watch the trailer and it could only be accessed through a trip to the cinema. The film’s Facebook page for ‘A Late Quartet’ accumulated 10,500 likes; this would have largely increased the word of mouth aspect to the film as friends would see on their timeline if someone had liked the page and so once again is spreading awareness of the film before it had been released. For ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, the social media aspect of marketing was pushed even further as by simply liking the Facebook page, fans gained access to exclusive content, giveaways, games and updates on the films progress. This allowed general buzz about the film to spread like wildfire before it had even been released. These features also allows the fans to feel more involved and so much more likely to watch the film. Social media is a quick and easy way to generate awareness surrounding a film, it is often considered as a fairly important part of modern day marketing and without the internet none of it would be possible.

The famous video sharing company that is ‘Youtube’ was created on the 14th of February 2005. Youtube allows people to upload and watch videos at anytime and anyplace. Because of this, many film companies use the site to share their upcoming film’s trailer as anyone can access it at the touch of a button. For the film ‘A Late Quartet’, it was heavily promoted through trailers which were uploaded onto Youtube. The official trailer for the film accumulated 155,000 view; this allowed many people from all around the world to have an idea about what the film is about and why they may want to go and watch it. However, this method of marketing was not too successful for this particular film as many of the target audience, in the elder generation, may not have been users of Youtube. If the marketing was more physical by using methods such as posters and trailers before similar films in the cinema, alike what was done before the internet, then it may have created more of a buzz as news may have reached the target audience. On the other hand, perhaps the most useful tool for the ‘Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”s marketing team was Youtube. This is because it allowed fans to get as much sneak peak, behind the scenes footage as possible. Official trailers were released via Youtube, in addition to production videos. The official Hobbit Youtube channel worked hand in hand with Peter Jackson’s personal Youtube channel in order to promote the film. Video sharing sites such as Youtube not only allows people to learn large amounts of information about the film with one click of a button, but it also allows companies to work together in order to broaden the target audience. Youtube could also play film’s trailers before other videos on the site which would also largely increase the awareness of the film but also broaden the target audience. Youtube could also be used as a fanbase as fans upload videos about their opinions and views upon the film that may encourage more to watch it. Youtube brings efficiency and opportunity to marketing of a film.

With new websites emerging each day, it is very easy to create your own website. Film companies may do such thing in order to market their upcoming film. For the ‘Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, the website served as a hub to tie all of the online marketing together in one place. In addition to all of the photos, videos, downloads, and information fans could possibly want, the site also features interactive games and activities like ‘Recipes from Middle Earth’, the Dwarf Combat Training game, and the ‘Riddles in the Dark’ puzzle game. The site brought together not only Hobbit fans, but Lord of the Rings fans as well. The site added interactive marketing strategies such as games that allowed people to feel more involved. For ‘A Field in England’ one particular success story in helping the film to attract a wider audience and create a larger buzz by using the new technology of the internet was to do with online masterclass. By the middle of October, it had attracted 80,000 page views and 54,000 visits with an impressive 34% following links tho screenings or purchasing options. Also, there was a high level of engagement from visitors to the masterclass with 15,000 of the visitors generated 23,000 video views. The increased common attitude towards owning a smartphone, tablet, laptop or device that can connect to the internet also meant that a wider range of people would have been able to easily and efficiently access the masterclass videos made by Wheatley. Film companies can use websites in order to find innovative, new ways to attract a wider audience. This is made much easier by the internet as it is accessible to millions, quick and efficient.

The introduction of the internet has not only transformed the way that films are marketed, it has also had a significant role in the changing of how film are exchanged and distributed. In the past, before the introduction of the internet, huge wheels of film were sent around the country to cinemas. These were very expensive and could very easily be damaged, which could ruin the viewing experience for the audience very easily. This method also meant that only a limited number of cinemas could show a film at the same time as there were limited numbers of the reels. Along with the internet came a much more efficient system. Films can now be sent on secure files over the internet; this means that many more cinemas can play the film at once, they are of a higher quality and there is a reduced risk of damage that could have previously potentially ruined your cinema experience. The internet has not only changed the distribution of films for the cinemas, it has also opened up a whole new world of methods of watching films from the comfort of your own home…

One way how this has changed is through various Video on Demand (VoD) services. As the amount of active users on the internet increases, as do the range of sites and technologies available to people surrounding the internet. For example, there are many different types of VoD sites, that can be accessed through smartphones, tablets, computers, laptops, smart TVs and so on. This evolution has meant that people no longer only have the choices of visiting the cinema to see a film or waiting for the release of the DVD and having to visit the local Blockbusters with the hope that the film you want to watch has not already been rented out. They now have a broad range of options to choose from. An example of this is for the film ‘A Field in England’; this film was released in the style of a day-and-date release. This meant that viewers could have the luxury of choosing how they wanted to watch the film all on the same day. Thanks to the invention of the internet and increased use of technology, viewers could choose to view ‘A Field in England’ online. Out of all methods of watching the film, ‘A Field in England’ was most watched on Film4OD, which accounted for 30% of it’s 4OD weekend sales. Initially, Wheatley and others had suspected the film to reach figures of around 2,000 of VOD. However, this was exceeded because the VOD rental figures were well ahead of the 2,000 forecast with 3,133 on iTunes, 1,746 on Virgin Media, and 714 on Film4OD. With the backing and financing of Film 4, this meant that Channel 4 (with a viewing audience of 23 million)  could use advert space in order to generate more of a buzz for the film. They released adverts in-between shows on 4OD or Channel 4 and Film4 in order to increase awareness of the film; this also helped other parties involved as they could advertise about it being in the cinema or iTunes etc. Due to improved technology, millions of people own a television and Channel 4 is available to everyone. Therefore, the film would have been being advertised to millions and millions of people nationally! Even films with a much older target audience, such as ‘A Late Quartet, are aware of the need to target the potentially younger VoD audience. Distributors for ‘A Late Quartet’ chose to spend £40,000 on online and VoD marketing and distribution as an ever increasing number of people are using the internet and on demand sites. However, they were correct to think about the older generation not using the internet as much because Curzon Film World had predicted 10,000 sales on all non–theatrical platforms but ended with 3,000 rentals and 2,000 downloads from Sky, 300 views on Curzon Home Cinema and 705 from FilmFlex. This could show that although the internet has had a fairly significant role in changing the way that films have been marketed and exchanged, it has not entirely been altered as the internet could be considered to many of the older generation as a new and mysterious thing. However, on the other hand, before the invention of the internet, it would have been impossible for viewers to have the same flexibility as they do nowadays. The internet has had a hugely significant role in changing how modern films are exchanged and distributed.

An example of a subscription VoD service that has changed the way of distributing films is Netflix. Netflix began as a service that mailed the DVDs to the home of the purchaser, however as the internet developed and became more popular Netflix altered their methods so that films could be seen anyplace and anywhere when subscribed to their site. An example of how the exchange and distribution of films has been changed due to sites such as these on the internet is with the film ‘David Brent: Life on the Road’.  Netflix won the rights to distribute the film in all territories except the UK, Ireland and Australia. In America the first full trailer was released by Netflix on the 17th of January 2017. The full film was then released through the popular VOD service on the 10th of February. Ricky Gervais was “glad” about this direction for the film as he viewed Netflix to be the “perfect platform”. It could be argued that the release of the film through Netflix allowed the film to reach as many people as possible around the world; this is because Netflix is the “world’s leading internet television network with over 86 million members in over 190 countries”. Another example of a film distributed by the subscription VoD service is ‘Special Correspondents’. Netflix, pre-bought the distribution rights for ‘Special Correspondents’ for the entirety of the world for $12 million. At the dawn of the creation of the internet, the thought of a film being successful and making large amounts of money, $5,511,343 for ‘David Brent: Life on the Road’ at the box office, from being distributed on a website must have been unthinkable. However, the rising popularity of the internet has brought about various features such as Netflix that have changed the way that films are exchanged and distributed forever.

The internet has played a very significant role in changing how films are marketed and exchanged nowadays. It has acted as a root and underlying factor in the creation of many features such as social media, VoD services and individual sites. The internet has also added efficiency and reliability to marketing of films but also how they are exchanged from the creators to the distributors. However, the internet has not only made a positive impact in how films are now marketed and exchanged. The main issue surrounding the internet for the film industry is piracy. With improved technology and the freedom of the internet, it has become fairly easy for people to make copies of films, which then results in films being watched by people for free and nothing going back into the film industry. Websites such as ‘123movies’ and ‘Putlocker’ are used frequently by a huge proportion of the population. The film industry are losing profits and numbers due to websites such as these; this could prove to be a much larger problem in the future and so this problem needs to be tackled as soon as possible. Either way, the creation of the internet has played a hugely significant role in changing how films are marketed and exchanged. However, the internet is still fairly new and so this could simply be the lead up to much bigger and better things for the film industry.