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Digital innovation in distribution

Digital innovation in distribution was a pilot scheme to help film rights holders apply for funding for innovative, long-lead digital promotion campaigns.

The scheme aimed to help independent films reach a bigger audience using online tools and services, and share data and experience with others in the industry.

In total, we made 12 awards of up to £30,000.

Key findings and observations

The case study format was chosen because of the inherent difficulties in judging the success or failure of innovation relating to specific titles. Since there are many factors that affect the performance of a film, not least the film itself, but also the execution of the strategy – an account of the entire project is likely to be more useful that simply looking at the resulting statistics.

Despite the varying nature of each project, a number of recurring themes emerged, including:

1. It is never too early to start planning your digital campaign

The Fund’s guidelines were for applications to be received 16 weeks before release at the latest but several of the case studies report issues arising due to underestimating the necessary lead time. Equally, it is important to have built in the flexibility to adjust a campaign post-launch.

2. Simplicity of concept and design

A user experience that is clear, uncomplicated and doesn’t require too much time or effort from users appears to be an important quality.

3. Identify a clear target audience

Projects reported particular success when they identified a very specific target audience. Careful targeting and a clearer focus on a target audience generally lead to more efficient and effective campaigns.

4. Creating traction and driving awareness

A recurring issue with many of the campaigns was the challenge of creating awareness of the campaigns in the first place. Those which relied exclusively on online PR and seeding to do this struggled to bring in the numbers to make the campaigns effective. Conversely, the inclusion of an offline hook was an effective way of translating online awareness into something wider.

5. Integrating social media

Without exception all campaigns employed Facebook as a core part of their strategy. However, there were different approaches to this, ranging from applications built directly on the Facebook platform to those simply using it as a communication channel. The platform’s constantly changing Application Programming Interface (API) means that the question of how best to integrate Facebook and other social media platforms into a campaign is one of the key strategic decisions to be taken at the outset.

6. Conversions and measuring success

It was apparent that exposure to a campaign doesn’t necessarily translate into audience. The ultimate challenge, therefore, is one of conversion which means that the measurement of conversion is extremely important.

Next Steps

Case studies will be added to this page on an ongoing basis as and when the projects have been completed and reviewed.

Anglia Ruskin University Research Project

Anglia Ruskin University has also reviewed the UK Film Council’s Digital Innovation Award Scheme as part of a wider research project on the Culture of Digital Economy and new business models within the Creative Industries. The findings are presented in a short film which features clips from the films and campaigns, and interviews with those people involved.

Campaign case studies

Film Rights holder Release date Campaign in a nutshell
Metrodome Distribution 5 Mar 2010 ‘House Parties’: a multi tiered digital PR campaign including the opportunity to preview the film at home.
CinemaNX Distribution Ltd 12 Feb 2010 ‘Win the Premiere’: online game and competition
Lions Gate UK Ltd 12 Oct 2010 Facebook polling ad campaign
Momentum Pictures 13 Jan 2010 Multi-tiered digital campaign
Revolver Entertainment 9 Apr 2010 ‘Which Religion is the Funniest’: viral online comedy competition
The Works UK Distribution 2 Jun 2010 ‘Put you and your friends in the movie’: Facebook app that inserted you and your friends pictures into a scene from the film
E1 Entertainment UK 8 Oct 2010 Online competition and promotion
Momentum Pictures 27 Aug 2010 Multi-tiered digital campaign
Vertigo Distribution Ltd 13 Dec 2010 Foursquare-based competition


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