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5 ways to drive traffic to your film festival

Damian Bartolomucci
Damian Bartolomucci
 • 
March 16, 2022
 • 
2 minute read
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A 2018 Live Nation survey of 22,500 global participants aged 13-49 showed that 73% had a strong desire to “experience real rather than digital life.”1 A further 66% said that they’re “starving for experiences that put them back in touch with real people and raw emotions,”* demonstrating that audiences’ appetites for in-person events isn’t diminishing despite their escalating engagement online.2

For film festivals, this means there’s an opportunity to use a video on demand (VOD) platform to drive traffic to in-person events (and vice versa) and tap into that audience’s desire for the best of both worlds.

Here are 5 tips for getting started.

  1. Annual VOD programming

       Keep your festival fresh in people’s minds with annual programming on your VOD        platform. Staying engaged with your brand throughout the year keeps the spirit of        the festival alive and builds anticipation for the upcoming event. Use your platform to        revisit past selections, make announcements, and share sneak peeks from        behind the scenes to make audiences excited about attending your festival in person.

  1. Offer free VOD content

        Studies have shown that when customers receive something for free, they’re         significantly more likely to go on to make a purchase.3 This is in part because         getting a taste of what you have to offer makes them hungry for more, but it’s also         because it develops a sense of loyalty. When you get something for free, you         feel compelled to pay it back, especially when that free content perpetuates a sense         of quality and value.

       Free content on your VOD platform can be the hook that brings in new audiences who        may not be familiar with your festival. Once they’ve enjoyed those freebies, targeted        ads, promotions, and special offerings can entice them to join you in-person for your        upcoming festival, or make a purchase on your platform.

       Melbourne International Film Festival experienced this first hand as 80% of viewers        who watched free content on MIFF Play went on to make a purchase.

“The more free stuff you put on the platform, the bigger the box office winds up being at the end of the day. It brings people in and it builds their confidence.”
Claire La Greca, Head of Marketing & Communications at MIFF.
  1. Use VOD to saturate your in-person programming

        Build hype around individual films, cultivate an air of exclusivity, and eventize your         in-person programming by premiering films in-person before adding them to your         VOD platform. This draws in audiences like those identified in the Live Nation survey         who said they crave exciting communal experiences.

       Physical premiers carry another significant benefit: it allows you to screen more films        in person. Previously, you might have run a film 2-3 times per festival. But with VOD,        you can screen each film as a one-time exclusive, then host it online to open up more        physical cinema space and screen more films overall. It also saves money as you        won’t need as many cinemas to fit your programming. In effect, VOD means you can        do more with less and advertise a saturated program to draw in audiences who want        more bang for their buck.

  1. Use insights to identify your hungriest VOD users

       Data insights from your VOD platform can identify the users most likely to attend your        in-person festival. Reporting tools on audience, sales, and streams allow you to        identify who’s watching (and buying) what, and the content that’s trending at large.        These insights can help you develop targeted ads, promotions, and email        campaigns for the most engaged users on your platform. Connecting these users        with events that align with their viewing habits can drive traffic from VOD to your        physical festival and cultivate new, loyal fans.

  1. VOD bonus content

        Films that screen in-person can have context built out online, giving your audience         plenty of reasons to visit your VOD platform. Bonus features like interviews, Q&A’s,         and panel discussions lets your audience dig deeper into the films they enjoyed in         person and keeps your festival present in mind longer.

        And with the flexibility a digital platform provides, you can scale up your         programming by bringing in previously unattainable special guests who were too far         away, expensive, or busy to attend your festival. Adding Zoom interviews or         interactive chats with fans adds gravitas to your platform that encourages traffic         from your festival.

1 Lavigne-Delville , Melissa, and Amanda Fraga. “The Power of Live: Global Live Music Fan Study.” Live Nation, 2018

2 Lavigne-Delville , Melissa, and Amanda Fraga. “The Power of Live: Global Live Music Fan Study.” Live Nation, 2018

3 Everett , Holly. “The Psychology of Free: Does Giving Free Samples Increase Sales?” Upserve, July 26, 2018. https://upserve.com/restaurant-insider/does-giving-free-samples-increase-sales/

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5 ways to drive traffic to your film festival

Use a video on demand (VOD) platform to drive traffic to in-person events (and vice versa) and tap into the audience's desire for the best of both worlds.

A 2018 Live Nation survey of 22,500 global participants aged 13-49 showed that 73% had a strong desire to “experience real rather than digital life.”1 A further 66% said that they’re “starving for experiences that put them back in touch with real people and raw emotions,”* demonstrating that audiences’ appetites for in-person events isn’t diminishing despite their escalating engagement online.2

For film festivals, this means there’s an opportunity to use a video on demand (VOD) platform to drive traffic to in-person events (and vice versa) and tap into that audience’s desire for the best of both worlds.

Here are 5 tips for getting started.

  1. Annual VOD programming

       Keep your festival fresh in people’s minds with annual programming on your VOD        platform. Staying engaged with your brand throughout the year keeps the spirit of        the festival alive and builds anticipation for the upcoming event. Use your platform to        revisit past selections, make announcements, and share sneak peeks from        behind the scenes to make audiences excited about attending your festival in person.

  1. Offer free VOD content

        Studies have shown that when customers receive something for free, they’re         significantly more likely to go on to make a purchase.3 This is in part because         getting a taste of what you have to offer makes them hungry for more, but it’s also         because it develops a sense of loyalty. When you get something for free, you         feel compelled to pay it back, especially when that free content perpetuates a sense         of quality and value.

       Free content on your VOD platform can be the hook that brings in new audiences who        may not be familiar with your festival. Once they’ve enjoyed those freebies, targeted        ads, promotions, and special offerings can entice them to join you in-person for your        upcoming festival, or make a purchase on your platform.

       Melbourne International Film Festival experienced this first hand as 80% of viewers        who watched free content on MIFF Play went on to make a purchase.

“The more free stuff you put on the platform, the bigger the box office winds up being at the end of the day. It brings people in and it builds their confidence.”
Claire La Greca, Head of Marketing & Communications at MIFF.
  1. Use VOD to saturate your in-person programming

        Build hype around individual films, cultivate an air of exclusivity, and eventize your         in-person programming by premiering films in-person before adding them to your         VOD platform. This draws in audiences like those identified in the Live Nation survey         who said they crave exciting communal experiences.

       Physical premiers carry another significant benefit: it allows you to screen more films        in person. Previously, you might have run a film 2-3 times per festival. But with VOD,        you can screen each film as a one-time exclusive, then host it online to open up more        physical cinema space and screen more films overall. It also saves money as you        won’t need as many cinemas to fit your programming. In effect, VOD means you can        do more with less and advertise a saturated program to draw in audiences who want        more bang for their buck.

  1. Use insights to identify your hungriest VOD users

       Data insights from your VOD platform can identify the users most likely to attend your        in-person festival. Reporting tools on audience, sales, and streams allow you to        identify who’s watching (and buying) what, and the content that’s trending at large.        These insights can help you develop targeted ads, promotions, and email        campaigns for the most engaged users on your platform. Connecting these users        with events that align with their viewing habits can drive traffic from VOD to your        physical festival and cultivate new, loyal fans.

  1. VOD bonus content

        Films that screen in-person can have context built out online, giving your audience         plenty of reasons to visit your VOD platform. Bonus features like interviews, Q&A’s,         and panel discussions lets your audience dig deeper into the films they enjoyed in         person and keeps your festival present in mind longer.

        And with the flexibility a digital platform provides, you can scale up your         programming by bringing in previously unattainable special guests who were too far         away, expensive, or busy to attend your festival. Adding Zoom interviews or         interactive chats with fans adds gravitas to your platform that encourages traffic         from your festival.

1 Lavigne-Delville , Melissa, and Amanda Fraga. “The Power of Live: Global Live Music Fan Study.” Live Nation, 2018

2 Lavigne-Delville , Melissa, and Amanda Fraga. “The Power of Live: Global Live Music Fan Study.” Live Nation, 2018

3 Everett , Holly. “The Psychology of Free: Does Giving Free Samples Increase Sales?” Upserve, July 26, 2018. https://upserve.com/restaurant-insider/does-giving-free-samples-increase-sales/

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How to Market a Film Festival: From A to VOD

See how leading regional film festivals like Toronto International (TIFF), South by Southwest (SXSW), Melbourne International (MIFF) and more expanded their reach to a previously unreachable audience.