Have an iffy email list? It may still be actionable

How movie studios can turn an underperforming email list into a relevant marketing opportunity

What if you could connect 77% of your existing email list to profiles of real individuals? Or what if you could use your email list to reach 40 million people on your email list outside of the email channel—across the internet, devices and connected TVs?

You’d probably be pretty psyched. There aren’t many brands that would scoff at those match results, but it’s simply unheard of for a movie studio to build such a vibrant customer repository. Theaters own the box office purchase data, retailers own the home entertainment purchase data and cable providers or streaming services own the TV tune-in data—leaving the studios with few opportunities to build their own database of customers for marketing.

Without that direct connection, it’s a challenge to reach the people most likely to buy movie tickets in a meaningful and engaging way.

But now, studios can change that game.

A new way to connect the data dots

One of our major movie studio clients had been building an email list over the years, collecting about 84.5 million addresses from sweepstakes, newsletter subscriptions, games and other promotions. They figured this was a list of their “high-value moviegoers,” but they didn’t know for sure—and they didn’t know how to reach them consistently across other channels.

Specifically, they wanted to figure out:

1) How many of these email addresses are actual people that can be matched to individual profiles?

2) How many of these individuals can be reached online, outside of the email channel?

3) How many of these individuals are moviegoers?

Without access to purchase data, the studio had to come up with a new approach. They decided to conduct a match test against Epsilon Conversant’s movie buyer audience, using only their list of email addresses, which were hashed for anonymity.

The results were unexpected. Here’s how they did it (with some help from our team)—and what they discovered.

Step 1: Clean the list

Did the studio’s list have multiple addresses for the same person? Fake emails? Typos? We needed to find out.

They anonymized the addresses, and we matched them to those in our known universe—which turned out to be 73% of the studio’s list (or a total of 61.7 million addresses). This match rate was higher than we expected to see for an email-only file, and it proved the majority of the studio’s list was real, as opposed to fake or incorrect email addresses.

The remaining 61.7 million matched email addresses that we had seen before became our baseline “customer file,” similar to a retailer’s CRM file that we would then match with our database.

Step 2: Match to real people and learn more

The next step was to find out how many of those 61.7 million emails belonged to real people—complete with past transactions, devices, cookie IDs and more.

We compared the email list to our database of profiles, which are built on anonymized purchase data from 4,300 brands and include attributes like online browsing history and TV viewing behavior.

This comparison left us with 47.4 million people, or 77% of the matched email list. Again, this is incredibly high for an email list match. This match allowed the studio to know which future releases and messages would be relevant to each person—and which devices to reach them on.

Step 3: Determine who is online

By this point, we knew the studio had a lot of real people on their list, but how big was their addressable audience? How many could they reach across online channels outside of email?

We took a look at how many of the 47.4 million people we had seen online in the past 90 days to understand who we could actually help them reach with new messages across channels and devices. It turns out, we matched a full 85% to active digital profiles, meaning the studio could efficiently reach 40.3 million real people with personalized video and display messages across devices.

For comparison, when DMPs sync their audience with DSPs for campaign activation, they will typically lose about 50% of their audience in the process because each individual step—and provider—has a different data set. If you start with 100 people, the DMP might match 75 of them; when those 75 are brought to the DSP, they might only match 50 people, and so on and so forth. The bottom line is the more unique providers you use for different services, the more people you lose along the way.

Step 4: Figure out who is a moviegoer

The studio now had a list of real email addresses that belong to real people that are actively using the internet and can be reached online with digital media. But how many of these individuals go to the movies?

The final piece of this puzzle was to review the studio’s list of 40.3 million people against our box office data that includes online and offline movie ticket purchases at the title and merchant level.

We confirmed that 16.4 million individuals in the studio’s email list have purchased movie tickets in the past few years.The studio could then have more efficient digital media spend by focusing their marketing only on people who buy tickets, as opposed to a more general spray-and-pray approach. And, they could reach that audience exclusively, with one-to-one messaging to highlight movies most relevant to each individual, across various digital channels.

Step 5: Bonus contacts!

We also identified at least 12.4 million reachable individual movie ticket buyers that were not a part of the studio’s original email list. The studio can now activate this incremental of verified movie ticket buyers that were previously unreachable outside of email.

Email list, activated

The movie studio matched their email list to consumer profiles, and they identified the relevant people on the list they should reconnect with and send relevant digital advertising over time.

Although activating an email list compiled over time might not sound particularly exciting, this is kind of a big deal. They turned their under-used, unverified email list into something actionable for their digital marketing team—all without the data most brands rely on for this kind of list activation.

Because movie studios don’t regularly interact with consumers—people buy tickets to see movies at theaters or through their TVs, not through the studio directly—most movie studios turn to audience buying and industry website advertising (like IMDB and Fandango) for their digital media efforts. In this case, our client proved to the industry that there’s a better, more efficient way to reach the right people with the right messaging across devices and channels.

Will your studio be next?

Learn more about how we work with movie studios like yours.